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. hippie power 69

    what about the republican house not funding the security for the state dept. what about ryan living on ss after his father died. what about the robmey/lyan republican pledge to not raise taxes even if the country needs them raised. who voted them in to office grover norquist or the people. how about the republican pledge to have obama be a one term president even if it trashes americans and america. what a great bunch of hypocrites they are. we do get the government that we deserve. vote obama/biden 2012

    October 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. GI Joe

    Gloom and Doom Ryan/Romney are disgusting.

    Even the republican idiots should be able to see it. Guess they are blind - or maybe threatened by their corporate employers like so many have been this year.

    October 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Critical Thinking

    Joe Biden Has Lowest Favorability Rating of Any Democrat Since 1992!

    WOW, I wonder if Joe is all smiles on that news?

    October 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. UDidntBuildThat

    Dave-"Had the Republicans not BLOCKED his legislation, we would have added another million or so jobs. "
    Obama controlled both houses of Congress his 1st yrs. He could pass anything he wanted then. To say Republicans is just regurgitating the liberal lies and show just how ignorant of the facts you are. Obama has spent more in 3yrs than any other president ever and look at the economy state. Obama had divide this country more than any other President. As for the tax rate for the weathy well they are the job creators. Do u want a job or govt handouts where you stay in poverty for the rest of your life? Something tells me u r the latter. But the really argument you fail to even reconize is if we let the Bush tax cut expire, it woudl only raise enough to fund the GOVT FOR 8 DAYS!!! (fact check that!). Tells you how serious Obama is about fixing this economy and how stupid you are to fall for the lies.

    October 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  5. Alois

    Does this guy ever stop running his mouth? All he has ever done the whole 4 years on the campaign trail is slam and blame others for his huge failures. Deadbeat obama and his super corrupt administration are destroying this country with his corrupt polocies, devisive rhetoric and outright lies about what he has done .There have been more scandals and coverups in this administration than any other in history. It's obvious that in the past 4 years ,crackhead obama and his super corrupt administration have no clue how to get our country back on track.Deadbeat obama is abusing his authority to push his corrupt personal agenda on America and the past four years are proof.

    October 12, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  6. GetEd

    Mr. President, make sure you expose them as the liars and hypocrites they are, just like the vice-president
    did last night. They don't even like it when Biden behaves like Romney, but adds facts and truths to his statements...

    October 12, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Republican strategist Alex Castello said he was pleased with Paul Ryan's debate but he said he was disappointed that there were so many questions on foreign policy. Well, he was disappointed because Ryan showed how phony and pypocritical he and Romney are when it comes to foreign policy. For example, Ryan rambled that the Obama administration has done nothing to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon although the sanctions imposed on Iran by this administration are the most stringent sanctions imposed on any country in world history. Secondly, when the moderator asked him what a Romney/Ryan ticket would have done differently on Iran, he had no response. Then he said O' we'd imposed sanctions too but the problem here is that the Obama administration waited too long. That's garbage. Furthermore, did GWB imposed sanctions on Iran in the 8 years he was in office? Absolutely not. Then when the moderator asked him what a Romney/Ryan ticket would have done in Syria, again he had no answer. Then he used the same irrelevent answer he used to attack the President on Iran by saying that the President waited too long to impose sanctions on Syria. But Ryan never once answered the question and explain what he and Romney would have done differently in Iran or Syria.

    Then when it comes to Afghanistan, he rambled on and on about a surge and about President Obama bringing our troops home early by trying to say it was political. Then he kept suggesting that American troops should be the ones maintaining the security in Afghanistan instead of Afghan troops. Perhaps 11 long years of spending trillions of U.S. dollars and and loosing our soldiers aren't enough for Ryan to say ok its time to end this war and bring our troops home. The only dissapointment I had in Vice President Biden's response is that he failed to point out that the Afghan war would have been ended years earlier had GWB and the GOP not invaded Iraq and pump tens of thousands of our troops and resources into an illegitimate and worthless war.

    October 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  8. Nietodarwin

    The GOP is full of religious delusional people who are basically mentally ill. The Talibangelicals who run the GOP are just as much of an opponent to our country as the actual Taliban. Being xstian is just being UNPATRIOTIC.
    Obama has done a great job, and this country deserves the ruin that will befall it if R and R somehow get in power.
    Get these religious mentally ill people OUT of our government.

    October 12, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. UDidntBuildThat

    CarolinaGirl-what about the young men who died going into Iran because Bush and Chenny lied about weapons of destruction? Give me a break! Also, buddy get your facts straight!
    Funny u mention that. Even Bill Clinton came out in support of Bush on the fact that he (Clinton) was told about the WMD in Iraq. Even Bill Clinton say what Bush said all along – the intelligence was faulty. Even Great Britain and France backed up GWB on this decision to go to war in Iraq, Even Joe Biden signed the approval giving GWB the authority to go to war in Iraq. But that all is not enough for you right CarolinaGirl? BUSH LIED.

    So last night night Joe Biden said the intelligence told them it was a video that caused the attack in Benghazi that led to Amb. Stevens death with 3 others. Evne thought intelligence testified in Congress 2 days ago saying the knew immediately it was not b/c of demonstrators. Joe Biden went further to say that the WH did not know about any request to beef up security for Amb. Stevens. All this while the Amb. in France has a Marine detail guarding him but not Amb. Stevens in Benghazi where Obama knew thru his own intelligence that Al Qaeda was growing and the Embassy was attacked repeatedly earlier this year.
    If Bush lied then did Biden & Obama Admin lie too?
    Something tells me you will say no. Why? b/c u r a sheep and a hypocrite!

    October 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Biden exemplifies what it has taken to build this country....determined,passionate will,mixed with the desire to bring all along. The battlefield mentality of leave no one behind. He's lived it. Ryan on the other hand reminds one of the kid who has read a

    I wonder if any of the people going on about Obama only making "speeches" has ever head the expression " the pen is mightier than the sword".... Yes Obama can speak,much better than most of the rightwing obstructionist opposition. If the worst you can throw at our president his he can speak well,that's pretty poor. Great Communicator was once a label of praise in the republican party. How far you have fallen!!! Please republicans NO MORE CUTS to EDUCATION....

    October 12, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. Yolanda Moore

    Did President Obama not get Osama and did he not end a war?

    October 12, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Wrenn_NYC

    1) I'm at a loss as to how 108,000 in Vienna (likely earmarked in the budget for green energy spending) would have been more than a drop in the bucket security wise in Benghazi. I wonder how budget for an Embassy in Vienna would cover budget for one in Benghazi. Bureaucrats don't give up their pennies. Shifting monies from one program and one embassy to another is not an easy thing.

    2) We are all well aware that 'more democrats (3 more) voted for the reduced budget to the State Department 2 years running. Which totally ignores the history that the Republicans were the ones who led the charge to tighten the budget strings, and the actual budget passed came in in between the number asked and the GOP led budgetary committees offering. (in plain speak... the GOP were the driving faces on the smaller State Department budget.

    That aside, I am still disturbed by the discredited and inflated rhetoric (on many things;of the other sides policies or potential policies, of outright known issues) and the mislabeling and misinformation that keep getting repeated. By both sides.

    October 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Once a Clueless Republican

    The Romney/Ryan campaign has given me several pre-existing conditions: constant heartburn, major headaches, whiplash, confusion regarding their positions, and an over-worked gag reflex. Thanks a lot.

    @ Steve – it is 5 trillion over 10 yrs. if there are no cuts elsewhere. And just where does Romney and the republicans plan to cut? I wager you have no idea because it's a secret. Shhhh. Just trust that it will all be worked out, k.

    October 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Wrenn_NYC


    we were already divided. This just brought it more sharply into focus.

    We 've been divided since the 90s. It's been my contention that, after the fall of the soviet union, when we didn't have a focus of us against them, our own internal us against them came to the fore.

    Just my opinion.

    October 12, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Rommey-the champion flip flopper-all you who SAY you want a change-you want to go back to the Bush policies that got us to the depression of 2008 and maybe 2 or 3 new wars-hope all of you are multi-millionaires because if you're not you will see NO health plan-except losing women's health-and those new jobs are in the miliary to fight the new wars with Syria and Iran

    October 12, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. Dave-Dallas

    Face it .....Biden won......

    October 12, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. carlos

    to all of you REPUBICS: The surprising thing about young fools is how many survive to become old foolls...PHEW

    October 12, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. carlos

    meant fools....

    October 12, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Malory Archer

    You can tell by the angry frothing and teeth gnashing on today's message threads the the tighty righties are well aware that lyin' got his backside handed to him last night!

    October 12, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. Tim

    Just what does Romney stand for? What does he truly believe in other than the desire to be president? Most people know where President Obama stands, like him or not.

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  21. Malory Archer


    Obamas record is great. His administration has already created more jobs in 3 years than Bush did in 8. He saved us from the worst of the Bush Depression. He turned around Wall Street.

    Had the Republicans not BLOCKED his legislation, we would have added another million or so jobs.


    Additionally, had rethug governors not laid off tens of thousands of police, firefighters & teachers, the UE rate would be a full percentage point lower. No reichwing agenda there!

    October 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. sambell1

    come cnn get the facts straight, if you add up romney's proposal it would cost $5 trillion. how he would pay for it is another matter. on the air with wolf blitzer he said a combination of limiting deductions and growth produced by the cuts. jim acosta picked up on his bush-style promise, but so far the dems jhaven't. how did it work for bush's tax cuts? not very well! if his tax cuts are his growth proposal, how can he say in the next breath that high earners will pay the same as they loose an equal amount of deductions? they're then paying the same as before so how will it promote growth. romney is talking out of both sides of his mouth and is clearly counting on enough voters who are ignorant to the facts, or hate obama!

    October 12, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    OK-I get it-Repulicans broke the economy in 8 yrs-but now Obama did not fix it fast enought for you -and now you want to get elected to ruin the economy again with the same ideas

    October 12, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. BCasero

    "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."

    I am confused. Your own CNN analysis section on your home page carefully explains the $5 trillion cost of the Romney tax plan. Then you say it's been debunked. Which is it?

    October 12, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Martha in CF

    Go gettum Mr. President. Show em your stuff. You have done a lot in your first 4 years despite the destructionism done by the redumblican party. If the redumblicans get in America is doomed......

    October 12, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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