April 18th, 2012
05:22 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama: 'I wasn't born with a silver spoon'

Elyria, Ohio (CNN) – An aide to President Barack Obama's reelection campaign downplayed any potential reference to rival Mitt Romney Wednesday after the president told a crowd in Ohio he "wasn't born with a silver spoon" in his mouth.

The aide said Obama has used that line in the past, though its use Wednesday seemed to take on new meaning now that the general election in underway. The remark could be construed as veiled criticism of the likely GOP nominee's wealth and background.

"I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth," Obama said in his remarks on the campus of an Ohio community college. "Michelle wasn't. But somebody gave us a chance - just like these folks up here are looking for a chance."

Obama never mentioned his likely Republican competitor by name.

On the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney has handled the issue of his wealth with some awkwardness. Romney has built a fortune estimated to be between $85 and $264 million in a twenty-plus year career in the financial sector, and his father his own success becoming the president of American Motors and then the governor of Michigan.

Obama made his case for the so-called Buffett Rule, a proposal that millionaires and billionaires would pay at least 30% of their income in taxes. As expected, the proposal failed a Senate vote on Monday.

"I'm saying you make $1 million a year. And we said you should at least pay the same percentage in income tax as middle class families do - as a teacher or a bus driver," he said.

Obama and Republicans, including Romney, are drawing their battle lines in the 2012 campaign, with the Buffett Rule as one front and the federal government budget as a second. The president said GOP proposals would result in dramatic cuts to federal programs.

"Job training programs like this one would be forced to cut back. Thousands of Americans would lose out on critical employment and training services. That's the truth," he said.

The impact of GOP-favored cuts is not completely known, and the president alleges their plans have been strategically opaque.

"When you ask the Republicans, well, what do you say about that, they say, well, now, 'Obama is making this up because we didn't specify which cuts we would make,' " he continued. "Well, they - the reason they didn't specify it is because they know folks wouldn't like it."

Romney, meanwhile, campaigned Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, near where Obama will speak at the Democratic National Convention this summer. He billed his remarks as pre-buttal to the Democratic candidate's eventual convention speech and criticized his handling of the economy.

"He's over his head and he's swimming in the wrong direction," Romney said.

- CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Also see:

Nugent threatens death if Obama wins in November

Romney campaign 'bracketing' aims to 'step on president's message'

Dems, Republicans make their picks in election to replace Giffords

CNN Poll of Polls: All knotted up between Obama and Romney


Filed under: Mitt Romney • North Carolina • Ohio • President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Little Jimmy Truth

    Oh yeah, Obama already had blast time with women in Columbia with his trusted agents and Hillary last weekend.

    April 18, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. Cindi VonAllman

    Froo fra fra......................get to it!

    April 18, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. Stuart

    Obama grew up in the house of his grandfather who was a bank president and went to the most exclusive private school in Hawaii. I know that because I went the same school. Obama will continue evidently to deamonize anyone who has done well financially. Its sad. Mitts father did well and Mitt did better – thats great. Obamas father was a sheep herder and Obama is President – thats even better.

    April 18, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    What's romney going to do, buy the pentagon cheap and sell off the military pensions to China, oh I forgot he didn't say what he was going to cut yet.

    April 18, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    As much as republicans refuse to take the blame for their economic vision which brought our country to the brink of a great depression, they have shown that they are in over their head when they have to make a choice for the type of toast for breakfast. Bush and the republicans are like herpes, their stupidity is forever.

    April 18, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Lh2011

    Romney made his forture and was taxed on his income accordingly. Then he invests his money which is taxed a second time at the lower rate and people have a problem with it? As opposed to Obama who has now wiped all capital gains and dividen income off the map along with his school records, travel records and college thesis. How convenient for him!

    April 18, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. weR4freedom

    Romney is Right for America!

    Romney 2012/2016
    Believe in America

    April 18, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Just Say No to Flipper Rmoney

    Given his regular string of gaffes, it's more like Rmoney was born with a silver foot in his mouth (not sure who coined that phrase, though it certainly applies here).

    April 18, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. jb

    Oh well, I guess that's his excuse for eating the dog he talked about in "Dreams of my father". Michelle's school lunch menus just may be a little suspect. Maybe that pink slime isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

    April 18, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Gail

    Go back to 2008, he said the same thing then. This is the truth about HIS life and HIS wife's life. Has NOTHING To do with Mittens!

    April 18, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Dave

    My money is on the President. Despite all the allegations to the contrary, he's genuine and a worker. Mitt I'm afraid has not the slightest idea about putting in a days work. Obama 2012 !!!!!

    April 18, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  12. eMan

    GOP= Obstruction, obfuscation, no ideas, no clue, but on the take, corrupt, and NOT representing THIS country, hypocritical. I have much more, but I have to go...

    April 18, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. eMan

    Against choice, and birth control... equal pay for women, forced medical procedures. Wjat losers...

    April 18, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Arman

    I take that as a bonus Mitt has money. That means he does not have to sponge high end vacations and ridiculous amounts of time on golf. He can do that now or after he is President unlike the current resident of the White House.

    April 18, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. hate and lies from the right

    President suggests it. People with even half a brain know it.

    April 18, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. Four and The Door

    Dave
    My money is on the President. Despite all the allegations to the contrary, he's genuine and a worker.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Well then why doesn't he work up a Plan for the American national budget that addresses debt? Answer: Because it is easier to raise taxes and spend spend spend. The thing is, e doesn't even realize it is part of his job to control federal spending.

    The Republicans have provided a budget that does not raise taxes and does begin to lower the federal debt. Our generation owes it to our nation to address the exploding debt and not to just pile it on like Obama has in the last 3 years.

    April 18, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. XxMacleodxX

    love how you throw that mask on when you need to Obama.....yeah us regular people go to private schools while flying around the world in our childhoods.....we all don't hold a real job until the government gives us one ...yeah that is us the normal people

    April 18, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. MaryA

    What's all the hatred about for the successful people that have made money by working hard and investing? Romney's first job was as a security guard at a Chrysler plant. His father was successful but Mitt worked for his money. So what if he has an expensive home with a car elevator? He paid for it and created jobs in its construction. He doesn't take multi-million dollar extravagent vacations at the taxpayers/ expense. It's his money; he earned it; paid taxes on it and is entitled to enjoy the fruits of his labor. So stop with the divisiveness and class envy.

    April 18, 2012 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. kuewa

    The Silver Spoon line borrows from Ann Richard's criticism of Bush– only she said silver foot (LOL). And for all of you who are viciously trying to alter the President's history, after his mother's death, the President grew up in a modest apartment with his grandmother, a bank VP (not very highly paid in Hawai`i) and his grandfather (who was mostly unemployed). I know the neighborhood since I grew up near that area at about the same time. Most of the household expendable income probably went to sending him to Punahou School, a very selective and expensive prep school.

    April 18, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Unlike republicans, I believe in America. Obama 2012

    April 18, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Larry L

    The Koch brothers picked Romney because he only understands the needs of the elite and has no regard for the rest of America. He will also assume any character and pretend to embrace any ideology requitred to get votes – perfect for the Karl Rove election plan.

    April 18, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. MR.AL

    Finally somebody told the truth about Romney!! Ive said this for months that he supports only Millionaires and Billionaires, he's out of touch with the lower class!! His distructive plans for SSI, SSI Disability, Medicare and the Food Stamp Program!! All are used by the lower Class!! By hs income in 2009 and 2010 both combined Income $45million Tax Paid $6.2million That"s $3.1 million each year!! No wonder he and Repulican Lawmakers most it not all are millionaires want to stop the "BUFFET RULE" I don't see him a President of and for the "People"

    April 18, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. Your Politics are a Mess

    Mr. President:

    You should be better than this. I'm not impressed.

    April 18, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. April

    The now president's mom was an archeologist-how many poor ones do you know-he was raised by his banker grandparents in a gated community–attending an exclusive , expensive, private school in Hawaii from the age of 6, and hung out with the political families of the islands at the country clubs. Wow he thinks people are really stupid

    April 18, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. chuck weidemann

    There is no dispute. Romney was born to wealth.... His ignorance about everyday concerns of the working class are real. His compassion is intellectual, the question is where is his heart? In a mansion up on the hilltop or in the dinners and auto shops and construction sites across our country? Obama is more like me even if our skin is a different color. He has wondered where his next meal is coming from and eaten MAC and Cheese for days on end to save money.

    April 18, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
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