October 19th, 2012
02:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama diagnoses 'Romnesia'

(CNN) – After an evening of light-hearted jabs, President Barack Obama returned to his cutting criticism of rival Mitt Romney Friday, accusing the GOP nominee of forgetting the hard right positions he took during the GOP primary in order to seem more moderate.

Obama, speaking at a rally in the Northern Virginia suburb of Fairfax, told the crowd his opponent was suffering "Romnesia" after seeming to change his position on contraception, coal, equal pay, and taxes.

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"He told folks he was the ideal candidate for the tea party," Obama said of Romney's stance during the primary season. "Now suddenly he is saying 'what, who me?' He is forgetting what his own positions are and he is betting that you are too. I mean he is changing up so much, back tracking and sidestepping."

Obama said he and his supporters needed to come up with a term for "this condition he is going through," striking upon "Romnesia."

"That's what it's called," Obama declared. "Now I'm not a medical doctor. But I do want to go over some of the symptoms with you because I want to make sure nobody else catches it."

He continued using the neologism to slam Romney for what he said was a slippery set of positions, including on a set of issues important to women.

"If you say you're for equal pay for equal work but you keep refusing to say whether or not you will sign a bill that protects equal pay for equal work, you might have Romnesia," Obama said, referring to the Republican candidate's stance on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which strengthens the ability of women to sue employers over unequal pay.

Vice President Joe Biden piled on Friday, saying at a separate event in Florida that "Romnesia" was a "bad disease."

"And it's contagious, because all of a sudden Paul Ryan, the budget hawk, the guy who introduced a whole budget plan that actually already passed, it already passed the House of Representatives. All of a sudden he doesn't remember it, he doesn't remember it," he said, referring to Romney's running mate.

Romney has yet to clearly state his position on the law, though an adviser said after the second presidential debate that Romney would not seek to repeal it as president.

Obama continued Friday, "If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let employers deny contraceptive care, you might have a case of Romnesia. If you say you will protect a women's right to choose but you stand up in a primary debate and say you'd be delighted to sign a law outlawing that right to choose in all cases, then you have definitely got Romnesia."

Romney, who says he does not oppose contraception use in women, did voice opposition to a provision included in Obama's health care law that required employers – including Catholic colleges and hospitals – to provide contraception coverage in their insurance plans.

The Obama administration announced in February what it called a compromise to that rule in which free contraception coverage still must be offered to employees of religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals, but health insurers - rather than the employers - would have to cover the cost.

Romney promises on the campaign trail to repeal Obama's health law, including the contraception provision.

Romney's campaign recently battled back accusations the candidate is moderating his stance on reproductive rights after he said in an interview he wouldn't pursue any new abortion legislation. He later said he would seek to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices that would support revisiting and overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming a woman's right to have an abortion.

Barbara Comstock, a Virginia delegate and Romney campaign surrogate, said Obama was using his attacks on the former Massachusetts governor to mask a failed jobs record.

"When you don't have a plan to run on, you stoop to scare tactics," Comstock said.

- CNN Political Reporter Shannon Travis contributed to this report.

Also on the CNN Political Ticker

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- Poll: Races in Florida, Ohio remains tight after second debate

- Early voting opens in seven states, D.C.

- Sparring over economy in weekly addresses

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Virginia
soundoff (619 Responses)
  1. amos bwire

    Romnesia: A disease whereby a politician tends to forget, sidestep, backtrack or undergo slippery set of positions during the course of a gruesome campaign trail. #BOxfordDictionary.

    October 20, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. LonesomeDove

    There is a term for Barack too – "OBAMANATION" – for he is a demon spawn sent from hell to bring sorrow upon the earth. His failure of biblical proportions is evidence. Save your souls – Vote Romney!!!

    October 20, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. lyn

    Please God don't let Romney the FLIP FLOPPER be our President he is wrong for America, he don't care a dam about the people in need he only want POWER & MONEY.

    October 20, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Majav

    Romnesia? Isn't that next to Malawi and Mozambique? Who's Romney anyway?

    That is the question we will all be asking in a few years. Kind of a Muskie point right now, but still.

    October 20, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. jake

    Make sure I stay away from romnesia.

    October 20, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Ken

    I guess when your policies fail and you want to hide the record of your last four years, you create catchy buzz words to detract attention from your failures. Nice work mr. President.

    October 20, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. Don

    Romney is not the only person that has a form of amnesia; almost half the country has it! It is this condition that allows the non-patriots of this country to get people to follow them like sheep – and the tea party bleat the loudest.

    October 20, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  8. gunnde

    Obama behaves like a movie star vs. a world leader. He goes on The View, Letterman, Leno, etc., and yucks it up with the hosts like he's a Hollywood star. We don't need a Celebrity President. It really is a pity that Oprah literally created Obama and promoted him and used her media connections to promote him over the most qualified woman to be president we'll see in our lifetimes: Hilary Clinton. How sad for America that we've had to endure this Hollywood wannabe vs. our outstanding secretary of state as POTUS. What a pity for her to be sandwiched between a Tweedle Dee husband who cheats and a Tweedle Dum president who was gifted with The White House by a billionaire media mogul. So sad for America.

    October 20, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. Chip

    Obamareah is another term for the fecal bilzzard that Barack Hussein spews

    October 20, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. SP

    Beyond stupid and really desperate for a sitting Prez to coin such a phrase. Having to reach really deep in the old well it seems to find something to slam or act gimmicky because the WH plan simply is absent.

    October 20, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Desperate talk from a desperate man (Obama). He obviously can't defend his record so the only choice is to attack Romney.

    October 20, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. lindaluttrell

    GOOD one, Mr. Prez!

    October 20, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Joe Mogusu

    Just pointing out mistakes does not guarantee that u can fix them.potical problems need political solutions.One will be elected or re elected.No more no less.

    October 20, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. cosmo

    How can people be so blinded with Romney/Ryan? They are the worst liars of all! How can people not understand the facts right on their faces? Are they in denial? Blinded by their bigotry?Misguided? Obtuse? Brainwashed? Would rather vote for someone who will take this country down to where it was when it was when it was under 'dubya'? Oh, they did not mind that, did they. It was ok be lied to- like the missing weapons of mass destruction that killed so many Americans! Oh, what about the attack on 9/11 by the terrorsits that happened right here in the USA? It's ok because dubya was one of them. You did not hear harsh criticisms on dubya administration then, like how did security breakdown in this country to have let this horrible thing happened? No, dubya was not blamed nor was he in Katrina mess. Enough of the Republicans. Vote straight Democrats so that Congress can't block Obama's policies.

    October 20, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. 4mercy

    Bonnie Crawford,Obama has a "jobs Council "he hasn't met with in over 7or 8 months. Republicans sent 40 job bills to the Democratic Senate which would not bring a single one up for a vote. this President has been absent on leadership and Americans continue to suffer.

    October 20, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. Joe Mogusu

    What allows a politician to make a difference is different from the difference.

    October 20, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Christine McKinney

    Jer – Congratulations on registering to vote. That is your right and should be your duty. However, you must pay attention to the facts. No, President Obama has not done everything he had promised, but no President ever has. He has kept more of his promises than Republicans would like to remember – Lily Ledbetter law for equal pay for women, repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, ending the war in Iraq, Health Care reform (for the first time in 80 years), etc. What we need is a Congress who is willing to help, willing to compromise and whose number one priority is for the good of the country, not for the good of one party. Think before you vote – that, too, is your duty.

    October 20, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. hot air warrior

    Romney certainly has changed his positions big time and frequently. I am always skeptical when news people accuse a canidate of this , but you can't miss Romney's complete and constant remake of his positions. Take your que from the Republican partiy's social platform to know what he really is about. Backward.

    October 20, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Full Disclosure

    Thank heaven for the internet. It's amazing to me how filtered and targeted CNN is on what stories and headlines to post out here. Far too Obama friendly. Evidenced by what people will believe would happen if Romney were to win - "Overturn Roe v Wade" - seriously?? 4 more years of this would be devastating to our country – and CNN is trying to promote it?

    October 20, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Peter Clarke

    You will never get a straight answer from Romney, he changes his position so frequently, who will be able to know what he's for and what he's against. For me his numbers don't add up and frankly I can't take a chance. I suppose I'm just one of his 47 percenters . The GOP's social issues are another worry I have. I shouldn't have to live in a country where personal freedoms are stepped on by the christian right.

    October 20, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. bigdoglv

    Romnesia, binders, Big Bird. Real clever defense. Plumeting poll numbers show it is not working. Can we get real?

    October 20, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Ball SO Hard

    He is right though. I want to vote Romney but he keeps changing up his stance. I do not know where he stands.

    October 20, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. Kenneth Janowski

    A bad case of Romnesia also explains Ryan's inability to remember his marathon time.

    October 20, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. Paul

    It may be a funny line but you know what, Obama is right. Mitt has changed his position so many times on so many items that he probably can't remember where he stands. Mitt has moved so far to the left in the debates that by election time, he will be left of Obama. Problem with this: Can you imagine the high pressure lobbyists telling Mitt what he should do???

    October 20, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. texassmasher

    i cant wait to see president obamas amnesia on libya

    October 20, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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