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White House calls Gingrich's food stamp rhetoric 'crazy'


The White House on Tuesday responded to criticism of its welfare policies, denouncing as "crazy" a suggestion by Newt Gingrich that President Obama has increased the number of people on food stamps.

Press secretary Jay Carney dismissed of a question about a claim made by the former House speaker during Monday evening's presidential debate about Obama's record on food stamps.

"More people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than by any president in American history," Gingrich said at the South Carolina forum, using a line of rhetoric that's become a staple of his stump speech.

But the White House wouldn't let the claim go unanswered Tuesday. Carney explained that, due to the recession the country had been suffering when the president took office, there was an increase in “the number of people who…needed assistance.”  

Carney went on to say: “I would simply say that those are the facts, and the economic policies that helped create that situation are ones that, in the case of the candidate you just mentioned, he supported. And they're the kinds of policies that he advocates to this day. This president takes a different approach.”

When pushed on the policies Gingrich advocated which contributed to the recession, Carney responded that the economic policies that lead to the economic crisis in 2008 were supported by almost all of the leading Republican candidates for president.

It wasn’t the only political moment of today’s White House briefing, either. 

Carney also took aim at Mitt Romney’s reluctance to release his tax returns, pointing to a precedent started by the former Massachusetts governor's own father when it came to financial disclosure. 

“President George W. Bush, President Clinton, nominees for each party for years and years and years. I think going back to 1976, this has been a very standard tradition…I think it was a tradition that was initiated by then-presidential candidate George Romney back in 1968, who released 12 years of tax records in '68, as I understand it.”

The press secretary demurred on calling on Romney directly to release his tax records.

Carney's hint of a smile upon finishing his answer may have prompted CBS’s Mark Knoller to respond, “You just happened to know that.”