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

- Ryan zeroes in on energy jobs in Pennsylvania

- 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. Todd

    Good tactic Mr Prseident. Use simple, cute slogans and names to appeal to the Republican voters out there. Thats the language they understand. If you make a concept too complex you'll never get them to vote for you.

    Now you have to start making up things to scare them. Thats served the Republican party well for years. It doesnt have to stand up to any know form of fact checking because Republican's have vowed to never use fact checkers. Now if you could just act a little tougher at the last debate you could sway enough conservapigs to wrap this thing up. You need to be the angry black man we all saw in 2008. Republican don't pick up on their candidates message as much as his style. In other words, its not what he's saying, its how.

    October 20, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Gloria in NW

    Realityblowz? "Country is in serious deep trouble, and now we have to listen to 5th grade name calling by the administration. Oh this is just great. This is what we have now? We as a nation are such a simplistic losing joke now for the whole world to see."

    EXCEPT that the rest of the world knows that President is a steady, sane man. Most of them are probably hoping Mitt Romney is not elected because they can see he is unpredicitable and dishonest. A lot of people in the world thought we were fools for electing George W. Bush, and they will think the same with Romney. We seem to be a population with the world's shortest memory, unfortunately.


    October 20, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Khagaraj Sommu

    Nice word like the Obamagasm that thrilled Chris Mathews.

    October 20, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Frank

    Let us HOPE that Obama is thinking about children that are coping with Amnesia.

    October 20, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. drjmng

    At this late in the game when Obama and his media cronies are talking about Big Bird, Romnesia and Binders...they ARE desperate and losing !!! Winning candidates should already start talking about big idease and their agenda for the country – which is precisely what Romney and Ryan are doing.

    October 20, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. bob

    All the comments on here just mimic one side or another's talking points. Americans are such sad little sheep.

    October 20, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Karina

    Childish name calling doesn't become a President.
    His incompetence is so obvious and so far he hasn't laid out a plan for the next 4 years.
    Hope and change didn't work and " forward " is going to take us where and how.

    October 20, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. truesinger

    Mr. Obama also said: "But there's good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. We can fix you up. We can heal you".

    October 20, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Vgott

    Some people are calling it silly to invent words like Romnesia...but I tell you what...never before a candidate for President like was all over the place on any policy. With the kind of flip flop and opportunistic brain he has, if not for FOX and Right wing nuts, Romney would not even qualify to become President. Inventing the word Romnesia comes out of desperation to explain in simple terms what is going on in these elections.

    October 20, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Karina

    Romney got it right. 51% of Americans can barely read or write, hence the quote-"please give us everything for free and more cartoons on t.v." With another four years of President Banana the "more welfare please lot" will end up with less!

    October 20, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. W8a2nd

    Why is Bush or the Dick, Cheney not campaigning for the new Republican candidate? Oh wait, just had a bit of a Romnesia relapse, never mind. Back to your holes Bush and Cheney, don't want Romney to be connected to your gutting of the American economy. Maybe, just maybe, Obama's second term will bring these scoundrels to justice. Then we can return to a nation guided by laws and not criminals.

    October 20, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Zenfire

    Gas prices have doubled since Obama took office. He keeps America independent on countries who are our enemies and want to do us harm. He did not fulfill his promise to reduce the deficit by half. He said if he didn’t make good on his promises that he would be a one term president. Let’s hold him to his word – one term! While Romney is by no means perfect – he can get this economy back on track. A strong economy means stronger schools, stronger military and stronger America.

    October 20, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Anne

    get the transcripts Candy! What have I done these past 4 years? no worries, Votnesia is working with my followers. Do I have any plan for the future? who cares, just move forward comrades, the light should be somewhere at the end of the tunnel.

    October 20, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Vgott

    Please watch 2nd debate again. Romney said all the candidates are MALE. As an employer, especially as a Governor of state, Romney was not supposed to find out the gender, race, age etc of the applicants. It is illegal to ask for WOMEN when you have qualified list of applicants. I strongly believe it is against the current laws to ask for resumes from WOMEN specifically and fill the position with Women.
    It is perfectly legal to select a woman if both men and women compete and you select the woman finally.
    Please note here..Romney was in private sector and majority of his staff and employees are men. It shows that Romney was always screening candidates based on Gender and always rejected them because he could give them time off till 8PM.

    October 20, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Jack

    Both Bush and Clinton used the phrase "act of terror". I dont recall pundits on the left or the right parsing words saying it is not the same as 'terrorism'. You have to ask yourselves why the same words dont apply to this President when it did the others. Do the pundits hold Obama to a higher standard and give Bush a pass? Or did they just drop the ball and not do any research before opening their mouths?

    October 20, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Lauren

    I don't have Romnesia. I did not vote for Obama in 08 and will not vote for him in 2012. I won't vote for him because I don't agree with his policies. If I was someone who was considering voting for him, I'd think long and hard about it after this comment. Sophmoric moron!

    October 20, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Denny

    Amnesia occurred when Obama forgot to send more security to protect our Ambassador in Libya – then he forgot that it was a terrorist attack and blamed it on a video. Hey, the video guy is still in jail and it wasn't even his fault. What a country.

    October 20, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. just can't forget

    to all those who keep squawking about the early reports out of Libya and how they were handled - have you people already forgotten how GWB convinced congress to go to war, based upon bad and/or misleading intelligence coming out Iraq? Early reports are often incorrect! The mentality of a candidate who'd jump in before any info was released and risked making a bad situation worse, frankly, scares me to death. Like Romney said in his 47% speech, if he had the opportunity, he would exploit a crisis for political gain. No regard, whatsoever, for the families. Sweet fella, isn't he?

    October 20, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Bigboard


    October 20, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Rosenhof Ameba

    Funny someone should say that. Maybe he forgot that he has "evolved" on many issues as well. I guess he and the GOP runner up are drinking the same Gatorade.

    October 20, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Aaron

    all the comments here .. its pretty clear that Obama is getting his second term ..and thats what America needs .. this election is really not that close ..at least not as close what media is predicting

    October 20, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Joel

    As a independent voter I really do not want to listen to jokes, I want to hear plans and future actions, this Obama does not have one and will not get my vote.

    October 20, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Well Big bird,binders and now this? Wow Obama is definetly who I want for another 4 years. Sorry Obama, 4 more years of the same policies is not going to cut it. Voted Obama last time, will not make the same mistake again.

    October 20, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Romnesia

    It is worth remembering what my pocket wants, not what your pocket needs.

    October 20, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. Galaxy Prime

    The term "Romnesia" just may be the knockout punch – that name is going to stick. Voters are going to doubt everything that Romney says from now on. A presidential candidate that appears uncertain where he stands on issues loses votes.

    October 20, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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