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White House: 'Redistribution' video a 'desperate effort' by GOP

Citing a 14-year-old tape featuring Obama's comments about redistribution, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused Obama of wanting to redistribute wealth instead of creating it. The Obama campaign dismissed those remarks, and Democrats launched TV ads replaying hidden camera clips from Romney's headline-grabbing fundraiser. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.


The White House called Republicans' efforts to charge President Barack Obama as a supporter of "redistribution" as a "desperate effort" of a campaign looking to regain its footing.

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White House press secretary Jay Carney said there was little damaging about a video edited circulated by Republicans and the Romney campaign which purportedly features Obama, then a state senator, speaking about "redistribution."

“All of us who follow politics and policy… have seen circumstances like this where a campaign is having a very bad day or a very bad week. And in circumstances like that, there are efforts made -- sometimes desperate efforts made -- to change the subject,” Carney said during the daily White House briefing.

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In the video, Obama is heard to say, “the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution – because I actually believe in some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

At an October 19, 1998 conference at Loyola University, Barack Obama spoke against "propaganda" that said government doesn't work and the need to "pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution."

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Carney said the then-state senator had simply been calling for more effective city government, not the redistribution of wealth.

He added that the 2008 McCain campaign “tried and failed” to label Obama a “redistributor,” by playing up a clip in which Obama was heard telling Samuel Wurzelbacher (better known as “Joe The Plumber”) that "when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

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Like that effort, Carney said, this one would not succeed in defining Obama as supportive of wealth redistribution.

“The charge based on this 14-year-old video sounds very familiar to one that was tried and failed in 2008,” he said.