Gloves off: Obama readies for next showdown with Romney
October 11th, 2012
05:07 PM ET
6 years ago

Gloves off: Obama readies for next showdown with Romney

(CNN) - Less than a week before the second presidential debate, President Barack Obama pulled no punches when talking about his Republican opponent at a campaign rally Thursday, accusing Mitt Romney of going through "an extreme makeover."

"After running for more than a year in which he called himself 'severely conservative,' Mitt Romney's trying to convince you that he was severely kidding," Obama said at the event in Coral Gables, Florida.

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In February, Romney described himself as "a severely conservative Republican governor" when he led Massachusetts from 2003-2007. The line, which appeared in his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, came as Romney attempted to bolster his standing among the GOP base.

Obama on Thursday, however, made the case that the public now knows a "new version" of Romney. The president aggressively began to portray his Republican challenger as a flip-flopper one week ago, the day after Romney won wide praise for his debate performance, while the president was criticized for not going on the attack.

But Obama seemed eager to pounce at the Florida event, launching slam after slam. "What happened? Now what does he have to say, this new version of Mitt Romney, about all the things he's actually promised to do as president?"

Obama especially targeted Romney over his tax plan, repeating the claim that the GOP's proposal would cost $5 trillion–an argument debunked by multiple fact-checkers, CNN.

Romney proposes a 20% tax rate across the board, the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, and the elimination of the Alternate Minimum Tax, the estate tax and taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends for those making less than $200,000 a year.

"When he's asked about the cost of his $5 trillion tax plan, he just pretends it doesn't exist. What $5 trillion tax cut? I don't know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut. Don't pay no attention to the $5 trillion tax cut on my website," the president said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Obama got the figure from a study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Romney, however, has forcefully fought back against the study's statistic. Given that he has not laid out all the details of his plan, the study was conducted based on generalities from Romney's proposed tax policies, not an exact proposal.

The former governor argues his tax cuts for the middle class would not add to the deficit, saying he would pay for a reduction in the tax rates by limiting deductions and closing loopholes for the wealthy–though he does not specify which deductions he would eliminate.

"What he was selling was not working, because people understood his ideas wouldn't help the middle class. These days, Mitt Romney's for whatever you're for," Obama said.

A campaign spokesman for Romney responded to the president's remarks Thursday afternoon.

“Today, President Obama continued his campaign’s widely-discredited attack on Mitt Romney’s economic plan. This is what happens when a President has no record to run on and is unable to present a plan for the future," Ryan Williams said in a statement. "As President Obama continues his campaign of dishonest attacks, Mitt Romney will focus on his plan to fix our economy and restore prosperity for all Americans.”

At the rally Thursday, Obama also attacked Romney for vowing to repeal the president's health care reform law, even though Romney as governor enacted a similar plan that served as the blueprint for Obama's federal law.

In recent weeks, Romney has suggested he favors parts of Obama's health care law, such as the provision that make it illegal for insurers to refuse those with pre-existing conditions. Yet the GOP nominee still maintains he would replace the law with his own law.

"He even loves the most important parts of Obamacare," Obama said. "What happened?"

The president made no mention of his vice president, who takes the stage Thursday night in a showdown with Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. According to pool notes, however, Obama called Joe Biden to wish him luck earlier in the day.

Obama faces Romney in the second presidential debate on Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will moderate the event.

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • President Obama
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. ExRepublican

    We love you Obama.
    Thank you Obama for taken your gloves dont let Romney/Ryan get away with lieing.
    Romney/Ryan are not ready to be president or vice president.

    October 12, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. ST

    My President, if you somehow come to this website, I would like that you consider the following: Do you remember what you wrote in your book "Dreams from my father", the way how your Indonesia step-father taught you how to fight back. Please apply it. It is worthy doing it and you will make all of us proud.

    October 12, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  3. MIddle Class Independent Swing State Voter

    Look at Obama's record? What about Romney and Ryan's record? What have they done for the middle class? Romney can't even win in his own state b/c they know what he's about. And Ryan voted for all the Bush policies that got us into this mess in the first place. If we're going to talk about records, let talk about EVERYBODY's record.

    This undecided voter does her research and doesn't depend on the media to tell me what to do. That's why I'm voting for Obama.

    October 12, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. fiftyfive55

    I remember Ronnie Raygunz "Trickle down theory" economics,ya know,where the rich get tax breaks and these breaks would trickle down to us.Well,they didnt reinvest in us,instead they bought yachts,summer homes and went on exotic vacations.So this promise of lowering taxes on the wealthy so they will invest in us is a total crock.They cried for deregulation also and what happened,they went to China because deregulation allowed it.

    October 12, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. MIddle Class Independent Swing State Voter

    Romney and Ryan still haven't given any specifics. What loopholes? When specifically are we leaving Afghanistan? What will you do differently from the current administration to keep nuclear weapons from Iran? Another war we can't afford? How will you be able to cut taxes for the rich, increase military spending, AND keep important social programs for the middle class? So far no answers from either of them and that's why Obama/Biden has my vote.

    October 12, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  6. truth

    The retards are in serious trouble. Biden uncovered Ryan's deception when he revealed Ryan had personally ask him more than once for stimulus money for his state. The retards have been supposely campaigning against distribution of these funds from the outset. I am sure Romney/Ryan have more skeletons that will surface in the next several weeks. I'm also surprised no major new station pounced onthat story since Ryan openly admitted he did it.

    October 12, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    "What about the Republican gutting of the Obama administration's request for funding for embassy security to the tune of $270 billion?? "
    $270 Billion??? Really??Really??????

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  8. Ancient Texan

    CarolinaGirl- If Bush lied, then so did John Kerry, Hillary and Bill Clinton and most of the DIM leaders in Congress. ALL said Iraq had WMDS. THose talking points you just posted were false when Harry Reid started them and STILL are.

    October 12, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Ancient Texan

    Dave- Unemployment averaged 4.7% for the entire 8 years that Bush was in office. Anyone that WOULD work was working. 23 million are out of work or working part time under OBAMA.

    October 12, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. SuperD

    I think the country is tuning Obama out. They are sick of the excuses, the screw ups, just plain sick of Obama.

    His brand is worn out, nobody is buying it. His debate performance proves that, he had no answers to anything.

    Obama getting a "tough" is going to make him look even worse!

    October 12, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. Aliwisious Davendander III

    Never mind the details says Paul Ryan... "everything will just magically get better if you elect us" or "it'll be up to the do nothing congress to come up for our plan." But no folks, don't let facts cloud your prejudices.

    October 12, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. truth hurts

    Obama administration: The biggest Lie, Excuse, Smear, Failure Division Machine this country has EVER seen. In 4 years they have taken NO RESPONSIBILITY for their failure. The ONLY thing we can count on are an endless stream of lies, excuses, smear and division to conceal their failures and total incompetence. HUNDREDS of Mexicans and Americans have died because of this incompetence. MILLIONS remain unemployed because of it. MILLIONS will LOSE their healthcare because of it due to Obamacare.

    WAKE UP AMERICA. Four more years of this disaster and this country will be unfixable. We will have massive unemployment, massive debt and bankruptcy. Spain is now one step above junk bond status. WE will be there in four years. If Obama is re-elected you will see many people taking steps to protect their wealth and that means it will flood OUT of our economy to other parts of the world.

    October 12, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. UDidntBuildThat

    Bob said "@James: What makes you think that the request for increased security in Benghazi reached a level where Obama could have known about it? What about the Republican gutting of the Obama administration's request for funding for embassy security to the tune of $270 billion??"
    So once again it is the Republicans fault that the terrorist attack in Libya where our Amb. +3 others were killed? The Amb. in France has a marine detail in FRANCE!!! but not the Amb in Libya?!!! The same Libya where there were serveral attacks and it was known by Obama that Al Qaeda was growing there?!!! Why is it so hard for you blind liberals to see the truth. The buck stops with Obama. If he was unaware of what is going in his Admin then he is INCOMPETENT!!!! Obama has executive power to allocate resources wherever he chooses. He has done it over and over giving EPA, Immigration moeny that is not legislated by Congress. Republicans do not own Congress. Dems own the Senate still & the $270 million cut was reduced and most of it restored and signed into law by Obama. So again another lie!! Funding was not cut to the Embassy & this is not Republicans fault!

    When anything went wrong during the Bush Admin, and plenty of it did, it was ALL BUSH'S FAULT!!!!! Obama and the DEMS controlled 2/3 of the govt and it is all OBAMA'S FAULT!!! It was Sept 11th, State Dep testified they had cameras following the situation as it unfolded!!! Obama knew fr day one this was not spontaneous attack and lied!!!

    October 12, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. Enough is Enough

    The emperor has no clothes makes sence.

    October 12, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. Bessy

    I think that some of you people should stop and think about something. As bad as Romney is, and he is bad news for this country, just imagine something happening to him, if he were the president, and Ryan was then your president. That would be like putting Palin in there. People, stop and think what is good for your country. This president had his hands tied every step of the way, and still, things are improving. STOP LISTENING TO LIMBAUGH AND ALL OF THE FOX NEWS BUNCH. They haven't a clue and only people who want to destroy our first " black " president pay attention to what they say. WAKE UP AMERICA.

    October 12, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. ARam78

    Only in America a guy can insult 47% of the population, change his position on critical issues daily, does not give any specifics to anything he says he will do, hides money in offshore bank accounts, refuses to show his tax records, is so eager to go to war and wants to go back to the same policies that put the country in the mess it's in right now and yet he still has a good chance on winning the election!!! The world is scared at the thought of Romney becoming president of the US (I travel throughout Europe and Latin America for business and this is what people say over there, but if you're in Asia, China specially, you probably don't mind because you would have more jobs coming your way) but at the same time they laugh at the stupidity of Americans. Can Romney supporters give specifics as to why they would vote for him (specifics please not talking points)? Obama has put policies in place that are at least heading in the right direction, and has had to do it without the help of Republicans, now imagine how much better we would be if Republicans would have co-operated just a little. And please stop using the tragic incident in Libya as your talking point for Obama's failed foreign policy, Bush is responsible for thousands of soldiers killed in a pointless war but no Republican seems to mind that, and remember the biggest attack on US soil happen under a Republican president, which by the way is the model Romney is using for his foreign policy!!!

    October 12, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. Free Thinker

    Look at all the disgruntled repubs on this blog who are criticizing President Obama for telling the truth about Romney's
    "fake over". Romney has had to explain or backtrack on about 70% of what he's said–or he's doubling down on his lies. It does not take a genius to see that Romney is re-inventing himself in order to win. If he were so sincere about the middle class, why didn't he apologize for the 47% remark when it was released? first he doubled down on it, but said he was not eloquent when he said it. One day after the debate, he decided it was time to apologize for the remark–only because his handlers smelled a big bump coming to him. It was a crocodile tears apology and I'm not buying into this lying plutocrat's game.

    It is a scary thought that Mitt might be in the same room with Vladimir Putin when he shoots off his mouth–Russia will never cooperate again. Hell, they might even just hand a few nukes to Iran. Think about your choice fellow countrymen, our lives depend on it.

    October 12, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Brian Hester

    The modern Right doesn't care what their nominee's positions are. They see his reversals as admirable clever expedient strategies to win, and yes, that is all they really care about. They have chosen a side, against their own interest, without insight, and indeed only care about winning.

    And yes, the electorate has not been paying much attention, and doesn't really understand the issues, and is indeed bamboozled by image and posturing. Romney looked at least marginally 'presidential' in his confidence and bluster, and that's enough for quite a large number of Americans.

    I have had the great fortune to know lots of great knowledgeable intellectuals, and to have had worthwhile debates with them. But I'll tell you, I've done some traveling around the nation this year, and I have not had but one or two real conversations where there was some intellectual parity. In spite of people having generally good hearts and minds, I've found most people, especially outside of urban centers, to be uninterested in "politics" and unconcerned with civic responsibility. I don't blame them. They're being poisoned against real participation every day, and the timbre of the national conversation is not being improved by those who are in a position to do so.

    Finally, are these political events really even debates? People who hover around academia know what a real debate looks like. If only we had those. But instead we have these sanitized and scripted things with no realtime fact-checking, no in-depth followup, etc. I have heard that the opposing candidates actually collude in advance to determine which topics are on the table, and which are not. And who runs these debates? The two-party establishment, essentially, and no Ralph Nader allowed on the premises. I would even argue that the very terms of understanding the issues are essentially generated by propaganda, and any out-of-the-box ideas are simply too untenable.

    I hope to see this all change, but it looks to me like the consolidation of power in the establishment will simply continue. There's no one on the inside who can viably challenge it. And even when positive things that might undermine the establishment do manage to get through, such as McCain-Feingold, they simply remain unimplemented in perpetuity. As for the populace, the concerted destruction of the public education system will keep them in line for a few more generations.

    How's that for cynicism?

    October 12, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  19. Ignore the Stocks

    To anyone touting the current state of the Stock Market as an Obama success...don't forget that it got just as high under Bush. What that you say? It's not the same, because that was due to Wall Street corruption and a housing bubble? Well, the next crash (and there will be one), will be due to the insane debt that we are now in.

    October 12, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. Goa Way

    "Obama got the figure from a study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Romney, however, has forcefully fought back against the study's statistic. Given that he has not laid out all the details of his plan, the study was conducted based on generalities from Romney's proposed tax policies, not an exact proposal."

    I would like to know what else do we have but generalities of Romney's tax plan? What EXACTLY is going to be cut? Romney and Ryan have done everything EXCEPT answer that question.

    October 12, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. Norma Vessels

    When you hear something from someone, that you know isn't true .. then, you hear them say something else that you know isn't true .. then that someone says, "trust me." That's when you walk away. So ... Obama/Biden, four more years!

    October 12, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Richard

    I have listened to all the debates and looks like no-one and I mean NO ONE is listening to what is going on!!! They are seeing but, they are not paying any attention or hearing what Ryan/ Romney are saying!!!
    I am a senior and a combat wounded veteran and I am also totally disable, my wife is also a senior and disabled, if Romney/Ryan get in there I might as well kiss are health plans GOOD-BYE!! At least now, I and my wife can get health care... We need are social security and medicare NOW!! NOT "MAYBE" LATER! Our nation of VOTER's need to start paying ATTENTION!!!

    October 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  23. chupacabra

    These debates don't mean nothing, we the people know who we will vote for several months ago.......but I would like to see Obama ask Romney why America isn't big enough or good enough to hold all his money......?

    October 12, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  24. Free Thinker

    Four and the Door. Your posts are pathetic. If you are so stupid as to not see Romney as a lying plutocrat based on what is being said about him, perhaps you should take a look at Romney's speeches and policies as governor and as a 6-year presidential candidate. He has flipped on every issue in order to pander to his audience/handlers.

    Don't think that President Obama is out–he leads in EVs, and that will improve even further when the foreign policy debate happens. Don't think that Romney will win against him on the Libyan terror attack. It is an ongoing investigation, and Romney is not privy to the findings and intelligence on that issue. Also, Obama will strike back at how republicans denied the requests for funding of security for embassy staff both in 2011 and 2012. It is the republicans that have blood on their hands on this–not the administratin.

    October 12, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. St Xavier

    If only the voters would set aside their colored glasses ( you know what I mean ) an take a close look at Romney you will see some one who has every thing an doesn't know what it's like to be with out an unable to connect to the common person. He wants the presidency bad an will say any thing to get it, look at the many times he flipped on issues. People please never for get how the economy got this way THE REPUBLICANS gave it to us in the last eight years of the Bush presidency. Do you truly believe the time Obama has been in office was time enough to correct the Bush years of spending, PLEASE do not vote no to Obama because you feel the economy hasn't gotten better. The gains that Obama has established ( truly not enough an needs more ) having Romney as president will bring hard ship to the ones who really need the better life. All Romney knows is MONEY money for his friends an his family of witch he has stashed away in over see's banks to keep away from the American people so that he doesn't have to pay tax's on. On election day THINK real hard a chose who you think is really out to help the common people.

    October 12, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
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