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. batjones

    Romney's stump speech might have been credible if he had a plan with real solutions. If the Republicans spent half the time trying to better the lives of Americans instead of distorting the President's words we would have paid off the debt by now. The remarks of the President related to his recognition that he has not used the bully pulpit to move Congress with him to the direction that the country must go. Congressmen both Republican and Democrat would be wise to get on board the Obama train now or feel the heat of being run over next session. Cheers

    September 20, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  2. acky55

    Why will Mitt continue to tell us what Obama is saying instead of telling us what he wants to do. Worst still he's not telling the truth about what the President has said. Pls tell us your plan.

    September 20, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  3. fukntbaggers

    AH YES, I see the WIMP Rob-Me trying to fool the Flordia Residents!. The sunshine State of Retirees that he wants to RAPE & pay them in return with Vouchers. It's time for American Citizens to IGNORE this BAFOON and turn him over to England on November 7th, 2012.

    September 20, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. rchirico221b

    If anyone knows change, it's Mittster Etch-a-Sketch.

    September 20, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. allens

    i know this is not ia very ntellectual, but romney is such a sissy. mitt, show us your tax returns, we do not trust you at all. this is not helping. maybe that does not matter to you, you still don't know you need us do you? to bad your daddy is not here to help you understand life and the little people

    September 20, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  6. stack


    September 20, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  7. Jim

    It would be worth mentioning in your reporting that Mitt Romeny said the exact same thing as President Obama when running for President in 2007. You have to admit, it takes some brass to criticize the President for saying what you said 4 years ago.

    September 20, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  8. Adevilson

    Please Mittens, just give up and let us alone, please!

    September 20, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. RudyG

    So, let me understand this; change comes from the outside? Obama is wrong! He has brought a LOT of change to Washington – Washington is more polarized and dysfunctional and adrift than EVER! What he's saying is "people, help me by changing the Congress into a Democratically-controlled group, and then everything will be OK. Never mind that many presidents before him, of both parties, have had to work with a Congress controlled by the opposite party, and gotten a LOT done!!

    September 20, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. tcaros

    Does anyone really believe anything Romney says?

    I don't.

    September 20, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. antibarry

    Your president and regime leader is a menace to the security of the U.S. Now it's not that big of a deal to have our Ambassador and three other Americans murdered by the terrorists, no "let's just move on". And as of right now Barry is down- playing the incident and saying it was not an act of terrorism even though those within his regime are calling it an act of terrorism! How damn stupid are you people that want another 4 years of this anti-American p o s that is occupying the White House????

    September 20, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. Doug

    If Romney has worthwhile reasons as to why he would make a good president, why does he seem absolutely incapable of honest arguments?

    This is a perfect example - Obama makes a simple, inocuous comment, and Romney childishly distorts it so that he can attack. It just seems that if Obama is as bad as Romney wants us to believe (or Romney is as good), it shouldn't be hard to come up with legitimate arguments that don't require distortions.

    September 20, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  13. on StreetWise

    Romney has a whole bunch of advice for President Obama... what he doesn't has is a new idea or plan to get fix our economy, except more tired old Reaganomics trickle down upper class tax cuts and reducing regulations on Wall Street.
    After nearly forty years of GOP policies, the people are real tired of the NeoCon B.S. Re-boot, recalculate or pivot as any times you want to,or you'll try Mitt, you come short on every angle. LOL pal!

    September 20, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. Debbie

    I agree you can't change Washington from the inside. That includes Obama and Romney.

    September 20, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. Mark in Detroit

    Obama supporters need to focus on getting ahead and improving themselves vs attacking Governor Romney! CNN is completely biased towards the Dems. Very sad!

    September 20, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. dina

    What I can't stand about this man, Romney , is that every time I hear him speak or see something he has written, all I can think is how much I dislike this man.He appears to be so desperate to win this election and will say anything to do it. I hope people see that and realize he is not one to be trusted.He is in it for his own ego.

    September 20, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. k3citizen

    I puke every time Romney says something stupid. I lost 60 pounds this campaign season.

    September 20, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  18. RudyG

    14 million out of work. Stagnant economy. Foreign policy incompetence. Lies and more lies on the libyan incident. And, now he can't change Washington – it has to be US! I voted for him 4 years ago, but REALLY, how can I do that again? I have doubts about Romney. But, I have NONE about Obama! He's inept, he's never responsible for anything, and the jobs aren't coming!!!

    September 20, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. gmen79player

    It is absolutely SHOCKING how many people are still willing to vote for this failed president. Most of it is Romney's fault so far though, for not getting his message of real leadership out enough at this point. Oh, I just love the new obama campaign flag.... Get ready for the change people. United Socialist States of America. Don't blame me, I'm proudly voting for Romney!

    September 20, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Throw in the towel you buffoon!

    September 20, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. Phil Thomas

    I can't believe you RNC water carriers are not angry at your party for presenting a better candidate. Seriously I'm independent and I wish they could give me some one to get behind the Lies this guy and Ryan tell no way I could ever back one of them.

    September 20, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  22. Mike

    Once again, Romney proves he does not have the intellectual heft to understand Obama's statement. Maybe if he watched Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, he would understand that the President knows the greatest agent of change is the people of the United States when they join their voices together. If Romney had any intelligence, he would understand that Obama references Ghandi – we are the change we want to see. We cannot depend on political authorities to make those changes without at least voices from outside government guiding them, prodding them. So... once again, Romney attacks Obama, faulting him for being right.

    September 20, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Mickey1313

    Mittins can twist obamas words all he wants. The only way he will be potus is to cheat just like bush did.

    September 20, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  24. Larry

    Wonder when Romney is going to break the 50% lies barrier. Sounds like he is still way above that percentage:) Does he really think seniors believe him when he talks about saving medicare or anything else related to health care? We know better than that cause his party plans to reduce ALL govt domestic spending. They plan to lower taxes on the rich and reduce domestic spending to pay for it. Factor in the big increase in military spending so our kids can get killed securing his pals more resources in far off lands and you have the same formula George Bush used to bury us in debt. Their ultimate goal – drive our govt bankrupt. No GOP, ever again. Obama/Biden 2012!!

    September 20, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  25. bibleverse1

    Must elections be about bashing the other guy? Cant politicians just explain the issues they want to address. Why must we take sides? Tell me what you believe tell me about you not the other guy.

    September 20, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
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