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. Robert Cogan

    IMHO, this "some redistribution" Obama quote actually works in Obama's favor with many voters. Given the enormously uneven distribution of wealth, many Americans can't even afford to buy food, private health insurance, decent housing to live in, etc. This while there are centi-millionaires and billionaires who are paying federal income tax on EARNED income at lower rates than Romney's 14 – 15 % on interest.

    September 19, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Sniffit

    Brass tacks: the entire theory of "trickle-down economics" is at core a theory of wealth redistribution. It stands on the sandy, sinking, cracked foundation of the idea that if nobody does anything, including the government, to make sure that all the wealth and resources are not collected, horded, consolidated and then protected in a tiny pocket of society, then the wealth and resources will magically redistribute themselves fairly. That brain damage is what has gotten us into the mess we're in right this minute.

    September 19, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. Mom3

    Seriously folks are you all for real????

    September 19, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Wilson

    There is no way I can vote for someone that believes it is fair to take more of the money I work really hard for, and give it to someone capable of working, but does not want to work. Redistribution from hard workers to lazy people, that is Obama's way, creating more democrat voters by making them dependent on the government. Romney is "Obama lite," which means his policies will do less damage than Obama's will over the next 4 years, until we can hopefully elect a decent president.

    September 19, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. KK

    Good shot Mitt.... Oops but you didn't aim first...... SORRY

    September 19, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. Dennis

    The huge difference here is you don't hear Obama saying he doesn't care about 47% of the American population, but nice try. . .

    September 19, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Deathstalker

    I love all the Obamabots on here ignoring the fact that their false idol was just discovered to have been promoting redistribution of wealth i.e. socialism. You're right that most won't be surprised by this though as they already understand that Barry was all about this from day one. Contrast the two messages of the candidates while we're at it. You've got Romney espousing less government intervention and less handouts, correctly calling out that 47% of the population doesn't pay federal taxes versus Obama, who wants to "spread the wealth around", claimes businesses "didn't built that", and that he believes in "redistribution" of wealth. You tell me which of the two comments is more outrageous. Most level headed Americans can sniff out a socialist when they see one. Obama numbers will continue to plummet regardless of all the "game changers" the state-run media pretent to toss Romney's way. You can only cry wolf so many times before the people wise up. They know who's side the media is on and they're not listening anymore.

    September 19, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  8. Mom3

    @Keeth – how is it redistribution UP if it's NOT their money to begin with????

    September 19, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Ready

    Yes good idea comrade Obama, then we will re-educate the free thinkers and take all the rich peoples money and land....Castro and Chavez has to be proud, he's one of them.

    September 19, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Bill

    Interesting. If we are going back that far, why not release those tax returns Mittens?

    September 19, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Metekrop

    Ooops ...Mitt....Please subtract year 1998 from Year 2012. The difference is 14 solid years. Now, are you telling us the story which is fourteen years old. In these fouteen years old, a lot has happened. You can look at the gray of OBAMA. Please grow up. You definitly lost this battle. Pleas don't west your money. You can do a lot of things for your country if you have the gut.

    September 19, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |

    "When I won in 2008, 47 percent voted for John McCain; they didn't vote for me. And what I said on election night was even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be your president."

    "One of the things I learned as president is you represent the entire country. When I meet Republicans as I'm traveling around the country, they are hard-working, family people who care deeply about this country, and my expectation is that if you want to be president, you've got to work for everybody. Not just for some." – President Barack Hussein Obama on David Letterman September 18, 2012

    September 19, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Anonymous

    If you read more than the one word "redistribute", what Obama was talking about redistributing resources amoung the various Government agencies so they could do a better job of providing services. Once again, the GOP is distorting what was said to make propaganda. Their campaign slogan 'we built it' is also based on a distortion of what President Obama actually said. The small business owner doesn't build the roads, bridges, etc. The infrastructure was the "it" in the quote and it's obvious to anyone watching the full video.

    The only thing the GOP can run on is lies and distortions. There are good people in the GOP with decent ideas but they're kept quiet by the horrendous leadership at the top. It's sad and pathetic.

    September 19, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. A not-so-stupid former republican

    This is the best Willard can come up with? It is readily apparent that Mittens is not ready for prime time!

    September 19, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. R

    1998! The GOP really had to dig that up! What a joke. A man who is hiding his taxes has the audacity to try this trick – who is advising this secretive man – the KGB? Obviously he now thinks we 47% care to go back that far – we know we have leadership in the White House that is relevant and cares about all Americans. Romney even said he does not care about the 47% – folks like me – a retiree – a veteran – the 47% You are going to have your advisory team Mittens to go back and start over on some other tactic. What ever you are doing, if this is any indication of what capability your staff has – we sure do not want them in the White House. We can't afford this type of leadership – lead by corporate money people who like to hear themselves talk and putting down us working Americans.

    September 19, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Mike D

    So heres the comparison...

    Mitt – insults 47% of the nation, telling a bunch of rich people that he doesnt care about "them."

    Obama – mentions the word redistribution on a small scale to provide opportunity for the less fortunate and struggling.

    You really got the Dems there GOP.

    Good Work...

    September 19, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "Who is running the Romney campaign?"

    The Hamburgler. ROBBLE ROBBLE ROBME!!!!

    September 19, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  18. GI Joe

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Nobody's really talking about this slice of the pie, but Mitt Romney's "47%" who pay no federal income tax include several thousand of the highest-income households in the country.
    The Tax Policy Center estimates that 4,000 households with incomes over $1 million ended up with zero federal income tax liability in 2011. Another 14,000 made between $500,000 and $1 million.

    Romney wants to re-distribute what's left of the poor to the wealthiest..

    September 19, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Brett

    Redistribution of taxation is a core component of any democracy. This is meaningless drivel from the GOP desperately trying to get the fat cats fired up over this insane notion that the red menace "Obama" is going to take all the rich peoples money and give it to the poor. F'in nonsense.

    September 19, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  20. Dan

    Wealth should be earned, no redistributed. At least CNN chose to run the story, not ignore it.

    Romney/Ryan 2012!

    September 19, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. kbob365

    Now Ann is claiming that Mitt's remarks were "taken out of context." You mean, he didn't realize the American public - including those "freeloading" seniors, students, military servicement, children, and the disabled - were going to get to hear what he really thinks about them? Sorry, but the "woe is me, it's that evil liberal media" just won't fly.

    September 19, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  22. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    obama makes NON_WORKERS, on welfare , on food stamps, next they will be stealing what you the worker worked hard for and obama will make it legal with his redistribution. obama and the non-workers need to be put to work and quit with the freebies, its time for obama to go and all non-workers to get a job and get off your butt.

    September 19, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    in simple terms, obamas redistribution means his welfare bros and sis can steal from the working person.

    September 19, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. NameChi

    Mitt u are so Desparate, lets talk about where are your taxes, republicans are miserable, redistrubution only good when going to top 1% corporate welfare!! Try something else!!!

    September 19, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    An audio clip from 14 years ago huh? Has it been authenticated? And that the tighty righties somehow fantasize that an unauthenticated audio clip allegedly from 14 years ago which claims that "I actually believe in some redistribution" is somehow more derogatory than mittnes voicing his utter contempt for servicemembers in combat zones, the elderly, young people and the working poor would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.

    September 19, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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