Romney pounces on Obama’s remark about changing Washington

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pounced Thursday on President Obama's remark that “you can’t change Washington from the inside," saying the president had "thrown the white flag of surrender."

"I couldn't believe it when the president of the United States said he couldn't get change from the inside," Romney said, adding that Obama's slogan has gone from “Yes we can” to “No I can’t.”

Romney riffed repeatedly on the line during the speech in Sarasota, Fla., often using Obama's own campaign slogans to drive home the criticism.

"He went from the president of change to the president who can't get change," Romney said.

The Republican hopeful said that he, unlike Obama, sees a path to fixing the economy and the discord in Washington.

"He says he can't change it from the inside. He has no plan to get our economy working again. Well, I do," said Romney.

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President Obama made the comment at a University of Miami forum earlier Thursday hosted by Univision, while responding to a question about his biggest failures in his first term.

“I’ve learned some lessons,” Obama said. “Most important is you can’t change Washington from inside, only from the outside. That’s how some of our biggest accomplishments like healthcare got done — mobilizing the American people.”

Obama added that in a second term, “I want to concentrate having a much more constant conversation with the American people so they can put pressure on Congress to move issues forward.”

Republicans quickly seized on the remark on social media, urging supporters to share the comment and arguing that the president had undermined his argument for a second term.


The Obama campaign punched back, saying Romney is "trying to take the heat off himself by taking the president’s words wildly out of context."

"That’s twice in just 48 hours, which sets a new record in desperation," Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. 

"What the president said today is no different than what he has been saying for many years — that change comes from outside Washington, not inside. … Mitt Romney apparently doesn’t believe that change comes from the American people,” Smith said.


Romney also doubled down on Republican attacks over a 1998 video that surfaced earlier this week in which Obama says he believes in the concept of "redistribution." The Obama campaign has charged that the Romney campaign selectively grabbed the comment out of the surrounding context, during which Obama talks about the importance of competition and marketplaces.

"The idea of 'redistribution,' which is that we're going to take from some and give it to others — that's a foreign concept," Romney said.

The Republican nominee reiterated his attack on President Obama's healthcare law, emphasizing the cuts it makes to Medicare. Democrats have pointed out the cuts would not affect the benefits given to seniors and noted that they were also included in the budget proposal of Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.).

"I hope the people in Florida understand this. [Obama] cut Medicare by $716 billion," Romney said, adding that the cuts to Medicare amounted to $1.4 billion in Sarasota County alone.

This post was updated at 5:12 p.m.