Romney opens new line of attack against Obama
September 20th, 2012
05:54 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney opens new line of attack against Obama

Sarasota, Florida (CNN) - GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney launched a new line of attack against President Barack Obama on Thursday, seizing on comments Obama made about change in Washington earlier in the day.

"The most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside," Obama said Thursday afternoon at a presidential forum the candidate taped to run on the Spanish-language network Univision.

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Change was the theme of the candidate's 2008 campaign slogan, and he said at the Thursday forum that change from the outside was essential for his election and policy.

"That's how I got elected, and that's how the big accomplishments like health care got done, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out," he said. "That's how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families. So something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term, is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward."

Within hours, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney had seized on the comments. Standing before a sign that declared he would "protect and strengthen" Medicare, Romney instead peppered his speech with references to Obama's comment.

"The president today threw in the white flag of surrender again. He said he can't change Washington from inside, he can only change it from outside," Romney thundered to an audience of several thousand in Sarasota. "Well, we're going to give him that chance in November. He's going outside!"

Romney said he "couldn't believe it" when he heard reports the "president of change" had said Washington needed to be changed from the outside.

"Isn't that amazing? No wonder he's had such a hard time over the last four years," Romney said. "His first two years he had a Democratic House, Democratic Senate, he got to do whatever the heck he wanted to, but he says he can't change it from the inside. Well, I will."

Obama's campaign responded to Romney's remarks on social media, tweeting quotes of prior Obama statements about change coming from outside of Washington.

"'This campaign can't only be about me. It must be about us-it must be about what we can do together.' -Barack Obama, 1/10/07," Obama's campaign account posted.

And another post: "'The change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the people demand it.' -Obama, 8/28/08."

The campaign also released a web video of comments Obama has made on the campaign trail this year - and to make their point that Romney was taking Obama out of context, the video takes comments of Romney out of context.

"America's role as leader in the world is a thing of the past," he is seen saying in one of the clips. It removes critical words from around that bite, as Romney regularly makes the opposite point in his stump speeches.

The Republican White House hopeful did take aim at Obama over Medicare, claiming $1.4 billion marked for Medicare recipients in Sarasota would be used to pay for the president's health care plan.

"What he has done to Medicare to pay for Obamacare is wrong," Romney said during the sunny, outdoor rally, where several elderly supporters had to be ushered out in the heat. "I will reverse it. I will save Medicare and protect it for our seniors of today and our seniors of tomorrow."

But at the end of his speech Romney returned again to his theme of the afternoon: "I will change Washington and I will do it from the inside when you elect me on Nov. 6."

- CNN's Kevin Liptak and Adam Aigner-Trewordy contributed to this report

Also see:

- Ryan gives House GOP a 'pep talk'

- Defending Romney, McCain cites 2008 campaign trail misspeak

- Romney to ramp up campaign schedule with bus tour

- Pawlenty takes post at Financial Services Roundtable

- Letterman: No hard feelings toward Romney

Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (423 Responses)
  1. Don

    M!tt is desperate for anything that will keep his campaign alive.

    (1) His campaign is already millions in debt.

    (2) He cannot keep his foot out of this mouth.

    (3) He has begun to alienate even his own party and we are seeing folks jump ship including Pawlenty and several donors.

    (4) The President is being honest and realistic in his statement about Washington. The truth is not always pretty – best to accept it and address problems as they exist rather than pretend they do not exist.

    The G0P should bag it for 2012, regroup and not get too far into debt with respect to their finances and their reputation.


    September 21, 2012 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  2. UpintheAir

    I have to admit that as an Independent, I may be leaning towards Obama because Romney scares me a bit. He seems to be taking these desperate measures to capitalize on moments like Libya, 47%, and now this "inside-outside" comment that he himself said in 2007. I fear that his "jumping the gun" as our President could cost us Americans dearly. Also, I still can't get over the orange makeup at the Univision interview.

    September 21, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  3. Thomas

    Why are people jumping on my comments???????
    Can you believe Obama said this?????????

    Such a hypocrite.

    September 21, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  4. breakmyrustycage213

    Obama 2008: Yes we can. Obama 2012: No I can't.

    September 21, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  5. breakmyrustycage213

    Obama in 2008: Yes we can. Obama in 2012: No I can't.

    September 21, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  6. Brenda Morrisey

    "His first two years he had a Democratic House, Democratic Senate, he got to do whatever the heck he wanted to, but he says he can't change it from the inside." Absolutely, wasted time!

    September 21, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  7. 4mofo44

    Talk about "grasping at straws"...po' Mitt! lol!!!

    September 21, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  8. Pete

    Romneys staffers are desperate throwing everything they have about the president against the political ad wall and seeing if it sticks,most haven't!!He's spending more money or pulling out of states all together knowing well that state is reserved for the future two term president..He's saying more and more lies and he can't stay on message even after fellow republicans try to give him advise,he already has FOX news on his payroll,they're being investigated from the FCC for violations in solely collaberating with Romney as a political advisor...He's a Mormon bishop and his religion advocates lying to gentiles for advancing religious truths,so its political lies,Romneys thinks its religious to him right!!Romney won't be able to lie publicly because in the debates he'll be called out and admonished by the president,can you say game over,it'll be after the debates watch and see!!!

    September 21, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  9. kenredbar

    I have not made a decision regarding my vote. However I do agree with POTUS Obama's assertion Washington cannot be changed from inside. If anything the Bush (shrub) and POTUS Obama year has proven change is impossible from inside.
    In my opinion the 2 party partisanship gives itself to oppose change. Voters who cast a vote for a candidate based on subscribing to a political dogma defeats a message for change. Change will only come from the outside when voters realize there is a need to vote for candidates who can govern and lead such as John F. Kennedy the last true POTUS to govern and lead.
    I believe it is time for real change and vote real consideration be given to voting for candidates not supported by the national RNC / DNC / INC.

    September 21, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Tony

    What is wrong about what President Obama said? He was stating the obvious, just ask the Conservatives. Didn't they publicly say they would do whatever it took to see that President Obama fails?!?!

    September 21, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  11. WinniDog

    The 2 candidates are slogging it out–who will do the best for America, etc. Obama's approach has been a disaster. A change has to be made. We can pick at Romney's past–at least he has one. Obama doesn't have a past of any consequence.Charisma is nice, but not really necessary qualification to be a good leader. His background–small time school lecturer, local community organizer, law degree but never practiced. Instead he has used the office of the President to try implementing his grandiose social redistribution program. But with no business experience and no real experience in managing, he is failing badly. Office of Budget now has 6 million people, not 3 million people projected to be fined $1,200/yr for not buying health insurance. If 6 million people can't pay for of health insurance, they aren't going to pay the $1,200 fine either. That's $9.6 billion that isn't going to appear out of thin air to pay for Obamacare. (Figures from Office of Budget). Obamacare hasn't even started and the disaster of his mismanagement keeps growing. It's time to re-direct our nation's path by electing a different president. He can have his 4 years to prove his worth or he can be fired too.

    September 21, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. Michael Jenness

    Romeny will change things from the inside except for the 47% and "oh yea the Israels and Palastinin's. Those are lost caused don't you know!

    September 21, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  13. ObamaFail

    Obama = INEPT LEADER. Cannot change from the inside means, I am weak and don't know how to lead or negotiate.

    September 21, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  14. acdcguy

    I think Obama has done a pretty good job "changing" from the inside........just too bad it is change for the worse.....

    September 21, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  15. Dano558

    Affecting change requires leadership. If Obama says he can't change Washington then he is saying he's not a leader.

    September 21, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. onemansvote

    Robme, are ya kidding me?

    September 21, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  17. tomnikoly

    "'The change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the people demand it.' -Obama, 8/28/08."

    Exactly. Obama 2012!

    September 21, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. Langley Whickersham

    Ohhhh Mittens! Keep hurling accusations at Presdient Obama eventually something will stick! Keep changing your stances eventually something will resonate with the American people!

    September 21, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. amarjeet

    Yes, it is right that GOP & Tea Party candidates are not certain & stable about their concepts of American economy. They have none of their original & genuine belief. They swing with crowds & the mistakes they do in their speeches. GOP candidates are busier in correcting their own statements, speeches & video rather than correcting their visions. Now they are impressing on people of America that change starts from people. When GOP & Tea Party cannot change outlook of 435 members of Congress with uniform intellectual vision, how they can millions outside with great diversity, disability & characteristics in whole of America. GOP & Tea Party republican are choosing what can never be done & make it an illusion for people of America well aware of their policies, philosophy & practice in public, worksites, markets & industry. Their complete swing in favor of taxing middle class, repealing Healthcare Act, anti-women & ant –abortion, anti-people like privatization of social security & tax cuts to rich & tax hikes to working class are well known facts of republican policy & practice. GOP & Tea Party just desire profits for wealthy not jobs for middle class. GOP just want all immigrants all illegal immigrants to be deported not helping the farmers to deal with draught as it will increase prices of basic food, meat & poultry. GOP want to start wars & borrow more billions by placing extremists candidates in Presidential & VP position without valid & basic public service records & unaware of social needs of people of America.

    September 21, 2012 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  20. Wisconsin Boy

    Poor Romney! He just flails around hoping something, however taken out of context, will resonate with the voters. You don't have my vote, but how about specifics of how you are going to create millions and millions of jobs, decrease the deficit, spend hundreds of millions on the military, revamp the Affordable Care Act, all without increasing the tax burden on the middle class? I will be waiting to hear them.

    September 21, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Robert

    You have to get elected first Mitt, and that's not looking too good.

    September 21, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  22. Gina

    Etch – a- sketch moment. Morning Joe showed a clip with Romney saying the same thing. Oh- yes he did!!! Anyways, if someone does not want to work for the better of the country (republican party) fire them – as in any job. The people who vote these moochers in have the power to remove them – change Washington from the outside.... yes sir!!

    September 21, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  23. xirume

    All Romney ever does is cry about how Obama has done everything wrong but he never says how he plans on doing it right and that's because he has no idea.

    September 21, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
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