SARASOTA, FL—Mitt Romney seized on remarks delivered by President Obama today, attempting to seize the role of “change” candidate after the president seemed to suggest in a televised forum that he could not change Washington from the inside.
"We face a Washington that’s broken, that can’t get the job done. 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 said. “Well, we’re going to give him that chance in November. He’s going outside!”
Romney was referring to an answer President Barack Obama gave to Spanish-language broadcaster Univision at a forum in Miami just a few hours before Romney took the stage. At the forum, which Romney attended last night, the president was asked to name his biggest failure.
The president told the forum’s moderator that he felt his biggest failure was in not passing comprehensive immigration reform, then pivoted to lessons-learned.
“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,” bama said. “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.”
Romney campaign aides, on the defensive for much of the last week over Romney’s surreptitiously-recorded comments in a May fundraiser, began blasting out the comments on social media, while other aides brought them to Romney’s attention on the nine-minute drive from his lunchtime fundraiser to the afternoon rally.
Taking the podium under sweltering conditions, Romney attacked.
“This is time for a new president. He went from the president of change to the president who can’t get change,” Romney said. “I heard it from the reports that came out and they said the president of the United States says he can’t change Washington from the inside. Isn’t that amazing?”
“No wonder he’s had such a hard time over the last four years 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,” Romney continued. “Well I will. I’ll get the job done, we’ll change Washington we’ll restore the economic strength."
Republicans quickly flagged Obama's line as indicative of Obama's failure to deliver on high expectations he created as a candidate in 2008. The GOP argued that Obama's comment amounted to a concession that business persists as usual in Washington.
Noting that Obama regularly refers to change in Washington as slow-moving and a goal that must be sought for from outside the capital. "Change is hard" has become a refrain for Obama in his campaign stops, his plea to supporters from 2008 whose enthusiasm has waned.
The Obama campaign quickly labeled Romney’s comments as “wildly out of context,” and called the attack built on them an act of desperation.
Nevertheless, the Romney campaign, sensing an opening, made the concept of Romney-as-change-candidate the centerpiece of today’s rally here in a county John McCain won by only a few hundred votes four years ago, but where Republicans see an opportunity to run up large margins this November.
“Now I know that the people of America have a choice. They can choose thecurrent incumbent. He represents the status quo. If we reelect Barack Obama you know exactly what we're going to see,” Romney said, adding that a vote for the GOP ticket this fall would be a vote for “real change.”