Obama 'victim'-izing Romney
September 28th, 2012
06:25 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama 'victim'-izing Romney

(CNN) - President Barack Obama wasted little time recently adding a new element to his stump speech which makes Mitt Romney the victim of his own comments.

At a fund-raiser in Florida last spring, Romney said that that 47% of people pay no federal income taxes, are dependent on government, and view themselves as victims - and will support Obama regardless of the arguments Romney makes about lowering taxes.

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His comments were secretly recorded and posted on a left-leaning website last Monday and Tuesday.

Romney said his words were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but Obama proceeded to use them against him.

A spokeswoman for Romney, Amanda Henneberg, commented to CNN on this report, saying "This election presents a clear choice between the government dependency of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s vision of economic freedom."

Obama debuted a form of the line at a town hall-style meeting for the Univision television network three days after the video was first released.

"When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven't gotten around a lot, because I travel around the country all the time and the American people are the hardest working there are," Obama said to applause from the audience, which consisted primarily of supporters.

"Their problem is not that they're not working hard enough, or they don't want to work, or they're being taxed too little, or they just want to loaf around and gather government checks. We've gone through a challenging time," he continued. "People want a hand up, not a handout."

That was on Thursday. The Obama campaign went on to turn the comments into campaign ads, and meanwhile, Obama was refining the line he would use at campaign rallies.

The next day, Obama used the "47%" sentiment in his remarks at the AARP convention, though he did not mention the word "victim."

"But when it comes to gridlock, look - I came in in 2008 and I said, even though I got 53% of the vote and 47% of the country voted against me, that I'd be the President for everybody, and I'd listen to everybody's voices," Obama said, referring to a theme he spoke on after his election.

Later on Friday, the president rolled out a version of his victim line which has become standard fare in his stump speeches since then.

"I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who think that they're not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives," he said in Woodbridge, Virginia. "I don't see a lot of victims in this crowd today. I see hard-working Virginians."

"Some of you may be students trying to work your way through college. Some of you may be single moms like my mom putting in overtime to see if you can provide a better life for your kids," Obama continued. "Some of you may be senior citizens who have been saving your whole life for your retirement. Some of you may be veterans who have served this country bravely soldiers who defend our freedom today."

He brought the personalization - "I see hard-working Virginians" - on the trail with him. In Milwaukee on Saturday, he saw "hardworking Wisconsinites." This past Wednesday, there were "hardworking Ohioans" in both Bowling Green and Kent. And the "hardworking Virginians" were back on Thursday in Virginia Beach.

Since the Woodbridge event, his language has remained generally similar - citing students, moms, and senior citizens.

Obama used the comment again on Friday at a fundraiser in Washington - "when I travel this country I don't meet victims" - though he dropped any geographic reference, perhaps a victim to speaking inside the beltway.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Jake

    I thought the 47% were the victims here. Now Romney wants to be a victim and see what he can get out of it. This guy is a clown. Wish the election were today so we wouldn't have to see this "victim" anymore until 2016, 2020, 2024, 2064...etc. Like a bad dream, he doesn't go away.

    September 28, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. Dar

    Yup, Like we really believe what Obama says too.
    Politicans lie, thats is what they do best. It is up to us to decide who the worst of the two are and then hope we were right when we cast or ballot.
    Either way both of our choices stink. We are screwed. Get ready to empty your bank accounts to fund what ever one of these two want. Because we are out of money and somebody has to pay. In case you don't get it "Yes that is you I am talking about"

    September 28, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  3. yasmine

    be relentless President Obama....
    as relentless as the racist
    as relentless as the birthers
    as relentless as the GOP controlled house of rep

    Romney didn't apologize or say he mis-spoke.. he meant it..

    Go Obama!

    September 28, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Romney is a victim .

    He deserves the right to be President , it's his time !

    King Romney and his new wardrobe .

    September 28, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Perhaps Mitt was more narrowly focused on the people who's jobs he shed when he was at Bain Capital when talking about 47% of victims? Naw... He said people (in general...) that we would write off. ! doubt that he actually helped as many as 53% while at Bain. Mitt is a vulture. Show us you tax returns!

    September 28, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. ThatsIt121

    All I see is a bunch of rhetoric. No plan, no vision, no understanding of what the average individuals going through. Just carefully worded sound bites designed to purchase votes from the ignorant voter.

    September 28, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. Romney Said Let Them Eat Cake

    President Obama is a class act, intelligent and a great leader. I think Romney is victimizing the republicans. It will take republicans years to dig out of the hole Romney has dug for them. Republicans don't like Romney they just wanted someone they thought could beat president Obama. They are already throwing Romney under the bus, talk about loyalty. Republicans would not know loyalty if it sat on their face.

    September 28, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Borderless

    "After this election, I will have a lot more flexibility." – President Obama

    After this election, the 10% to 15% in the middle of the political spectrum will be Obama's victims. Every person he has made a promise to will be betrayed on some level. Those who helped keep him in office deserve what they get. It's a shame the rest of us have to suffer too.

    September 28, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. on StreetWise

    Like the police say; "Anything you say, and I'll use your words against you." Keep shooting off you big lying mouth... it will only worse for you and use your own words against yourself. There's a whole ream of information from the last primaries to nail you with, Mitt!

    September 28, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Linda

    Romney deserves every thing he gets, except being the President of the United States. & we thought Bush was a goof, at least we liked him. I wouldn't trust this guy as far as I could throw him. Release all 10 yrs of your tax returns buddy if you have nothing to hide. & Ann, no we people do not know every thing we need to know about you people & your tax situation. Voting Obama

    September 28, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Facts don't lie

    Mitt Romney really hurt the right wing when this comment was made public in more ways than you think. The saying that "half the country pays no income tax" had been a right wing talking point for years and was very effective. When this was mentioned of course the image that came to mind, the image that they wanted you to have was of a lazy fat person on welfare, more than likely a woman, a minority, with 4 or more kids that was sitting at home watching reality tv all day drawing a check not working. And certainly that was enough to anger any American especially a conservative one. Yet when Romney's statement was made public and some research was done and the so-called 47% was made known egg was all on their right wing faces. So much for that fear card talking point.

    September 28, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  12. onlyfacts

    Romney did this to himself. Not many were really suprised by Romney's remarks. Its obvious by the few policies he has mentioned he and Ryan aren't in it to help "those" people. They judge a person by their income level. If they win 99% of us are toast.

    September 28, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  13. ron ray

    Go get him mr.p his all yours

    September 28, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Steve

    Everybody knows politicians cater to their audience and that they stop campaining in states they won't win and don't focus a lot on demographics they don't think they can get. But this theme of ignorance of what is happening on the ground and elitism keeps coming out with Romney over and over again. He may be a decent guy but he doesnt understand the problems most citizens face and assumes most people in hard times put themselves there by being lazy.Is this true for some? Of course. But Romney's way of thinking doesn't distinguish between those people and people who through no fault of their own are unemployed. God help them if the hard workers ever need any kind of assistance because Romney sure won't. The man was a decent governor. Now that he must answer to the entire base the agenda he will promote is obvious. Single moms, veterans, unemployed, etc can all be found in the 47%. Until Romney gets that, he shouldn't get anybody's vote

    September 28, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Kr55

    Nice to see for once one side attacking the other over exactly what they said in the correct context in which they said it.

    September 28, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. IronyBurrito

    There has been much commentary and analysis of Romney's now infamous indictment of half of the American people.  It reveals a character flaw that is more fundamental than arrogance:  lack of confidence in the American people.  How can Romney effectively represent us in the World when he believes half of us are hopeless victims?   Regardless of differences over social, fiscal and tax policy, a President of any party must possess confidence in the capacity of the American people to achieve national goals.  When JFK declared to the World that the U.S.A would put a man on the moon before 1970, he believed that we could meet the challenge.  When Reagan declared that the U.S. would develop a system to defend against a nuclear missile attack, the Soviet Union took it seriously because they knew that he believed that we could do it.  How will a future President Romney credibly make similar bold pronouncements to World leaders now that he is on record dismissing half of us as worthless deadbeats?  He cannot.  That is the reason that this issue will not go away.  

    September 28, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. Mike

    A majority of Red States receive more Federal Tax dollars than they give back in taxes. Vote Romney!

    September 28, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Fact

    Obama Cares!

    September 28, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  19. wjchucklebutt

    Go ahead, Willard – say that you're a victim of Obama using your own words against you.

    September 28, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  20. mike sylvan

    Mr. Romney has doomed himself with his foolish remark about 47% of Americans being "moochers" and "victims". The Obama victory celebration will be on November 6th.

    September 28, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  21. Temi

    Mitt Romney finds himself in a difficult situation of his own making. It seems that anything he says now, whether a gaffe or unintended slip of genuine opinion, he "doubles down" on because he is so aware and fearful of charges of being a flip flopper. It appears he rather err on the side of being one that sticks to his guns, even if the guns are pointing at his own foot, then wanting to appear weak and waffling. Apologizing for just about anything seems to be heresy in today's conservative wing. Since Bain's strategy was to situate companies for "harvest" it seems appropriate that Romney is now reaping what he has sown.

    September 28, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  22. Steve

    A vote for Obama is a vote for $6/gal gasoline in 2013.

    September 28, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  23. DJESQ

    As an Independent, I believe it is obvious the GOP should win this presidential election and carry a majority in both the House and Senate ...

    However, if the GOP cannot win this year, with one of the worst presidents since James Buchanan and a do nothing Senate, the GOP may never win again ... too many blue people ...

    So ... GOP ... put up or shut up ... if you lose, the nation will fiscally fail, go bankrupt, by 2024 (see CBO report) ...

    … too many blue people … Avatars …

    September 28, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. Carlos

    Obama's arguments are word games. Meanwhile, the reality is still out there.

    September 28, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  25. SPQR

    Mitt is a victim of Mitt.

    September 28, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
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