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. ThinkAgain: If you liked GW Bush's economic, military and foreign policies, vote for Mittens

    Wow, Mittens is desperate!

    You want to convince voters to cast their ballot for you? Release our tax returns and get SPECIFIC on your plans to move our country forward.

    Until then, we'll just take you on all the lying and flip-flops you've committed over your political lifetime, including your May remarks behind closed doors to your donors – because that's when you REALLY let it all hang out.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    September 20, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  2. Sam Hill

    Romney again misses the point. Obama didn;t fail at bringing change, he figured out how to get around Washington Insider blockades, by engaging and involving the voting public. Obama is the man!!!! Romney is a stooge.

    September 20, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  3. jak

    So Obama says that the people need to let their voices be heard. The change has to come from the people and not Washington. Sounds good to me.

    September 20, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. shaun

    Screams of Desperation

    September 20, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. stainpouch

    This is all he's got? He'll have to do better than that–two days ago he demoted me to the lower classes, and the very next day I became a drag on the corporate state. And after all that, he goes for same ole the out-of-context gaffe? I never warmed to Willard, and now I am really starting to dislike him a great deal. The 47% is not impressed.

    September 20, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  6. Sandra

    The man is a consumate liar who will do anything to get elected. No one should forget his campaign's stance that 'Fact checkers don't drive their strategy!".

    September 20, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Dave

    Mitt Romney as quoted on Dec 30, 2007: " I don't think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside."

    As reported on First Read. Google "Mitt on Huck, McCain, Ann" to find the quote. If you're going to attack someone, at least make sure it is on something you didn't say yourself.

    September 20, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Jake

    No, he has had such a hard time over the past 4 years because Republicans have made it their number 1 mission to ensure he doesn't get re-elected. From Day 1, they were a do nothing Congress. All leading up to this point, so they can say, "Look, he did nothing!"

    Sadly, the Republican's plan was a complete failure, not only will President Obama be re-elected, over the past 4 years, the American people have had to suffer in the muck instead of progressing with the rest of the world.

    September 20, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. BostonSteve

    Romney has my vote.

    September 20, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  10. Madden13

    Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million – Clinton, verified by politifact.

    September 20, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. LBAM

    Robmey is like a drowning man greasping for a straw..

    September 20, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  12. liberal disease

    you don't need to attack Mitt, leave that to Obama and the lib media,just state the facts about where are once great country is! the numbers don't lie, only liberals do!

    September 20, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. LBAM

    Robmey is so desperate, he is like a drowning man grasping for a straw. Darn Liar..

    September 20, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  14. Maryellen

    Oh Romney shut up, I am so sick and tired of hearing this bore complain. Stop tearing down Obama and campaign on what you can do for the country, I suspect it's not much! If you want to be likeable act likeable so far you are batting a zero.

    September 20, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. Sam Hill

    CNN is violating my first amendment right to free speech. CNN has created a PUBLIC FORUM, and through CNN's own ineptness or sloppy administration, my account is unable to post in the forum in realtime and thus I am denied participation in free speech in a public forum.

    September 20, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  16. ram

    So by saying that Washington needs to be changed from the outside, by the American people, the president is surrendering to what? Honestly, Mr. Romney is becoming simply incoherent.

    September 20, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. Gurgyl

    This guy is a tota idiot, justifying 47% victim stuff.

    September 20, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. David

    Silly and desperate, how about an actual idea.

    September 20, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. keljack99

    And so Romney keeps repeating the lie that Obama had Senate for 2 years, It was less than a year and Al Franken wasn't seated right away, Kennedy went out, that left 57, plus 2 independents, not enough to do anything since the GOP was in lock step against him.

    September 20, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. mac3333

    This man reeks of desperation.

    September 20, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. CBR

    Mr. Romney will never admit that he made a mistake. His refusal to take ownership of what he said to the Republican elite is just one example. He can change the tack he is taking but that does not solve the problem. He never said he would be president of all the people but now we are supposed to know that was what he meant. Unfortunately, he clearly stated that he could not worry about the 47% and that meant he was writing them off. Admit it was a mistake – Romney NEVER makes mistakes so he would have a hard time admitting he made one now.

    Now he chooses to quote then State Senator Barack Obama. Does he really think we are that dumb that we would hold Mr. Obama to a statement made years ago. I would hope that Mr. Obama has moved forward since then and has chosen more wisely. Perhaps Mr. Romney would like to quote a ten-year-old Barack Obama as well. Good grief!.

    September 20, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Facts R Facts

    Romney: Restore America to the Bush Era!

    September 20, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. aalisa31

    Ok Romney.... If 2007 you said the very same thing.. still grasping at straws I see... NEXT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Romney, campaigning against longtime Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2007, took the opposite position . "So he certainly has political skill, but I believe that at this time, to change Washington, it would be helpful to have somebody who comes with more private sector skill, experience outside Washington. I don't think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside." Romney

    Nevertheless, it was fresh fodder for Romney.

    September 20, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  24. maf

    This whole line of attack is based on false premise! The Democrats held a filibuster proof senate only twice for a period of less than six months total. Ted Kennedy's untimely death signalled the end of the first period that was less than two months!
    Between the appointment of a Democratic replacement and Scott Brown's election was a period of about 4 months. For the GOP and Mitt to claim the Dems had control for two years is just NOT TRUE!! Also Mitt's argument about Medicare funding the Affordable Care Act have also been debunked several times over. Mitt and Ryan are going to go down as the least honest campaigners in the history of US presidential elections!!

    The GOP are the main reason at the moment why Washington can't get "fixed from the inside". Mitt's shameless abuse of the truth is really quite frightening. Get out and vote Democrats!!! The only way to stop this insanity is to try to unseat as many Republicans as possible in the 2012 / 2014 elections! Hopefully enough change over will occur so that true progress can be made.

    September 20, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  25. JohnW

    So.... Obama tells the people that we should put pressure on our congressmen to enact change, essentially because he can't do it himself. And Romney's response is to attack him for... well, telling the truth, I guess. Makes sense considering his apparent disdain of the truth. What Obama's learned in his four years (especially the last two) is that the old saying about leading a horse to water is true. Except that in this case, even leading the horse has proved to be nearly impossible.

    September 20, 2012 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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