Romney, Republicans hit back with Obama 'redistribution' tape
September 19th, 2012
10:23 AM ET
11 years ago

Romney, Republicans hit back with Obama 'redistribution' tape

(CNN) – After withstanding searing criticism from both rivals and fellow Republicans on his secretly recorded remarks at a fund-raiser in May, Mitt Romney and his campaign are mounting a counter-offensive with a recording they hope will go viral as well: then-Illinois state Senator Barack Obama speaking favorably of "redistribution."

The audio clip first surfaced Tuesday, as Democrats were seizing upon their own video of Romney speaking at a private fund-raiser in Florida. That event was held in May.

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The clip of Obama was recorded in 1998 at Loyola University, according to Romney's campaign and fellow Republicans who are aggressively promoting it. It features the future president discussing what he calls a "propaganda campaign" against government funded entities, and suggesting better ways to make government more effective.

"There has been a systematic – I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign – against the possibility of government action and its efficacy," he is heard saying in the audio clip. "And I think some of it has been deserved."

Later in the recording, Obama says he wants to "resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how – what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live."

He continues: "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution – because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

It's those final words – "I actually believe in some redistribution" – that Republicans have latched onto, characterizing them as an endorsement of redistributing wealth, rather than making sure government agencies were well supported. Many conservatives argue redistributing wealth is akin to socialism.

The clip, which appeared Tuesday afternoon on the conservative Drudge Report website, was subsequently tweeted by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

When Romney appeared on Fox News later in the day, he made the "redistribution" video a central part of his first answer.

"The president's view is one of larger government," Romney said. "There's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution. I disagree. I think a society based upon a government centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that's the wrong course for America, that will not build a stronger America, or help people out of poverty."

On Wednesday, Republicans continued the onslaught, releasing a web video tying the 1998 comments with more recent remarks, including the "you didn't build that" line which has been played on repeat by Republicans since Obama made the comment in July.

It also includes video of "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft grilling Obama on so-called "redistribution of wealth," but doesn't include any of Obama's answers.

In the "60 Minutes" interview from December, Obama doesn't say that he's for redistributing wealth, but rather that he wants people to feel like they're being given a fair shot.

"Look, everybody's concerned about inequality," Obama said in response to Kroft's question. "Those folks in there, who were listening to the speech, those are teachers and small-business people, and probably some small-town bankers, who are in there thinking to themselves, 'how is it that I– we're - working so hard, we now have Mom and Dad working hard,' maybe if they're lucky, they might have two jobs to try to pay off their house note, and it just seems like they're treading water?"

In the 2008 presidential campaign, the "redistribution" argument arose when Obama told Samuel Wurzelbacher (known to most as "Joe the Plumber") that "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, claimed Obama was running "running to be redistributionist in chief." His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, went further, saying "now is not the time to experiment with socialism."

Matt Rhoades, Romney's campaign manager, wrote in a memo Wednesday that Obama's "vision for America is a government-centered society, where government grows bigger and more active, occupying more of our everyday lives."

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, responded to the "redistribution" clip in a statement Tuesday.

"The Romney campaign is so desperate to change the subject that they've gone back to the failed playbook co-authored by Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber," LaBolt wrote.

"Fourteen years ago, then-Senator Obama was making an argument for a more efficient, more effective government – specifically citing city government agencies that he didn't think were working effectively," LaBolt continued. "He believed then, and believes now, that there are steps we can take to promote opportunity and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot if they work hard. Unlike Governor Romney, he doesn't believe that if you're a student who applies for a loan you're looking for a handout."

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– Biden on Romney tape: 'words speak for themselves'

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • RNC
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. ColoradoDad

    Are they serious? Talk about a STRETCH! I believe in redistribution too, make sure all our tax money doesn't go toward the wealthy neighborhood schools, and some of it goes toward the poor neighborhood schools. Ensure that we have an educated populace. Otherwise, people will believe anything they are told... oh wait, we're already there. I've never truly felt hatred for anyone in my life, but i'm getting close in my feelings for republicans.

    September 19, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. Nametodd harrison

    This may be 14 yrs ago, but it wasnt that long ago he made similar comments to Joe the Plumber. This is what he believes.

    September 19, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Mom3

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    September 19, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    What is wrong with it??? Mr. Robme, Bain-Capital.

    September 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. The Real Tom Paine

    Sicne the GOP has redistributed more wealth from the middle class and sent it up to the plutocrats, sure, they favor redistribution.

    September 19, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  6. Joan in MS

    Mr. Romney: This is old "news." We have had President Obama for 3 and 1/2 years. He hasn't redistributed your wealth, or anyone else's for that matter. But now that you mention it, it is TIME for YOU to pay your fair share. 13% doesn't cut it when the average worker pays 15% for just the payroll tax, not to mention the income tax. Pathetic!

    September 19, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  7. carlos

    then Senator Obama, 14 years ago said......., well willard if you are going to go back that long, what about your TAX RETURNS from 14 years ago????, man up and stop that feminine walk ....

    September 19, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Ready

    Yeah, it's the same thing he told Joe the plumber, time to pay your fair share Joe. You didn't build that..etc.. Sometimes you get to see the real Obama when the teleprompters are off.

    September 19, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. vic , nashville ,tn

    In 2008 Joe the plumber was GOP hero for “spread the wealth” Obama’s comment it didn’t work then
    Republicans please wake up we have 6 weeks to go Voters need new ideas

    Romney step side or work something different to attract democrat and independents

    September 19, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. Mom3

    Quick would you feel if your child worked hard or not (school comes easier for some than others) and got straight A's but was told he/she had to share his/her grades with others who didn't do as well. Or in a sports game, a team had to give their winning point to the losing team because it's not fair. How is the redistribution Obama craves any different??? No one is saying we shouldn't help those who need help but those people shouldn't have this cradle to grave dependency on government. It's not healthy for them or our country!!!

    September 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Jim Hahn

    Desperation is setting in and it won't take long for it to show up in the polls. Romney should lose 2 to 3 points in the next two weeks and baring any other distractions, should lose 5 to 6 points in total before November.

    September 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Once again I find myself shaking my head and saying, "Pathetic". If this is how he runs a campaign, how can we possibly think he is able to run a nation?

    September 19, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. ExRepublican

    Romney you is disgrace to our country..Digging up info years ago what are you going to do for our middle class and your answer will be nothing.
    Romney/Ryan are a joke.

    September 19, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. Becky Cochran

    It begs the question, how can anyone listen to MItt Romney's campaign and still think he might be a viable candidate for the most respected office in the world? The more I hear him speak, the more I hear our President speak the more I want MORE of our President. President Obama, is self assured, strong, bright, articulate and his heart and mind are in the right place in regards to our country and her people. I can't figure out what it is that Mitt Romney is or what he wants, he seems to blame every single thing on earth on our President.

    September 19, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  15. Mel

    Wow...14 years ago he said something he still believes in today. Something he has said publicly (not behind closed doors) & what a majority of Democrats & Obama supporters believe in. Shocking! You know, desperation really has a bad smell to it.

    September 19, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  16. Machaku Sheky

    What happened to the Republicans? They're going for trivial issues! Oh my foot. This is another 4 years for my countryman in the White House.

    September 19, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Brighgom young

    Send all our jobs to China and the blame us for needing assistence!

    September 19, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Gurgyl

    What is wrong with it, Yo!!!!

    September 19, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Michigander

    Why don't the religious Republicans ever quote Luke 3:11 :John answered, anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same". I guess the Bible spoke to income redistribution. This verse didn't mention anything about providing the 'opportunity' but actually sharing what you have.

    September 19, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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