April 18th, 2012
05:22 PM ET
10 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. NotFooledByDistractions

    After watching Romney for some time, I'd argue that he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

    Either way, the President is right all the way around on this one. Romneys sophomoric "I know you are, but what am I?" response is laughable. Although, Romney did say it was "his turn", so I suppose with his sense of entitlement, he believes that. I think he'll be proved wrong...resoundingly.

    April 18, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Christine

    I am a working mother. So, it is wrong to be a successful and wealthy American? Was it the fault of Romney's parents and our parents that they worked so hard to save for their childrens future? Should we just all Americans be poor then because it is wrong to prosper in this country? Should Americans be third-world citizens and just sit an wait for somebody to feed us? Should we tell our children to stop going to school, get masters degree, get PHD to do better in lives becuase it is wrong to make bigger money and be wealthy? Should my husband and I stop working so we don't get a better income because it is wrong to pass wealth to our children?
    What is happening to America? We are punish for making money.

    April 18, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. DanTheMan122

    JFK was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Does Obama like him? What about the 6 richest senators in the country, all democrats? Is he campaigning against them? I will cry if he gets re-elected, since it would prove America to be authoritarian

    April 18, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Voltaire

    Even Republicans don't trust Romney. What's more to be said?

    April 18, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. dnick47

    Romney made his money selling out America and American workers. Now the arrogant flip flopper want to finish what Bush I & II started, turninjg it into a 3rd world nation: rich and poor. Most repubs are to stupid to realize that their licking Romney and Trumps' boots will not keep them out of the slums.

    April 18, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. Keeping it Real

    Obama trying to stay away from his elitist roots is hilarious. He must think all liberals are really stupid. Well, ok, maybe he has something there...

    April 18, 2012 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. justaminit

    "He's over his head and he's swimming in the wrong direction," Romney said. A self-fulfilling prophecy from a chameleon with no real ideas. Mr. "I will kiss anybody's tukus to get elected".

    April 18, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  8. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Why do the republicans spew so much hate? Why doesn't Willard tell us about his plans for the United States rather criticize the President? Do you think it might be because Mittens has no plan or even a clue?

    April 18, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Donald H

    Obama's class warfare continues to attempt a divide and conquer victory at the polls.

    "Obama suggests Romney was born with 'silver spoon'"

    April 18, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. gay guy

    Go Mitt, ur the coolest

    April 18, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. Randi

    Mitt Romney made his own fortune, it wasn't given to him. He has had great success in managing money, whether his own, or as governor, or CEO at the Olympics. He wasn't just lucky; he studied hard and was diligent in his pursuit of money management. This is the time when our country needs a man of his background.

    April 18, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. gg

    he,d be a bigger puppet then bush.rove ,koch,carlyle group.military industral complex,haliburton,oil company,s,health insurance companys can,t wait to get there arms around this guy

    April 18, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Ray E. (Georgia)

    So, exactly how did you afford to go the Harvard? Who paid for you? And, why didn't you learn anything?

    April 18, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. Ant

    I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth neither, by the way I came to US with empty hands; now i've cars, house n education.

    April 18, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. CBR

    The statements made by Governor Romney are often difficult to understand. Sometimes it is like reading or hearing gobbly-de-gook. This idea of making your opponent out to be a fool may backfire. The Romneys were a family of privilege and as Mormons they expected their children to do missionary work. So far the missionary work of Mitt's sons has not come up. Did they go to Paris like their Dad?

    What is really bothersome is the comments that are not correct. People grab a headline and use it to make accusations against the President, the First Lady, the Secretary of State and anyone else they can think of it. Now we have folks doing that with Mr. Romney. Come on folks we are better than this.

    April 18, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Hammerer

    Where did oboma get his money?

    April 18, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. T'sah From Virginia

    @Stuart – He did not say he was poor all of his life – However, he was NOT born with a silver spoon in his mouth; his mom was on welfare!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    April 18, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  18. bill

    I wasn't either. Unlike uhbama, I have worked for a living.

    April 18, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. gt

    and.........so what...... you went to harvard and thats not cheap... and you rich now...and.... this election is about jobs..

    April 18, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
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