The Romney campaign was going to invest considerable time and energy in a 1998 clip in which Barack Obama said he believes in some redistribution of resources, while at the same time fostering competition and innovation in the marketplace.
But that’s so two days ago. Now there’s a new, silly shiny object Team Romney says “will become a major part of his campaign’s message.” Jed Lewison had a good item yesterday featuring this clip from Mitt Romney on the stump in Florida.
Yes, as far as Romney’s concerned, the president “threw in the white flag of surrender,” Romney, unlike Obama, intends to “change Washington … from the inside.”
Remember, the president’s quote was about mobilizing the electorate to change politics from the grassroots up, using the power of regular folks to pressure policymakers to do the right thing. This is Romney’s new manufactured outrage.
Let’s count the ways in which this entire line of attack is absurd.
* Romney agrees with Obama: Mitt Romney said during his first presidential campaign, “I don’t think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside.” That is, almost word for word, what the president said yesterday.
* This isn’t new: Obama has endorsed the notion of a cooperative political process, dependent on engaged citizens, countless times before, including at his 2012 national convention. If it wasn’t controversial before, there’s no reason it should be controversial now.
* If anything, Romney’s the one who screwed up yesterday: As Greg Sargent noted, “[Obama] said he hopes to do more in his second term to mobilize public opinion – not just to achieve more of the change he achieved that way during his first term, but also to force more fundamental change in how Congress operates. If Romney thinks the promise to engage more Americans in the political process is a gaffe, that is certainly newsworthy.”
* This won’t work: I haven’t seen polling on this, but are we supposed to believe the American mainstream will hear the president talk about meaningful political change coming from outside the Beltway and voters will recoil? They’ll find this observation ridiculous? Please.