Obama's 'revenge' remark reverberates on presidential campaign trail

GOP nominee Mitt Romney began his final weekend campaign blitz in New Hampshire Saturday morning, ripping President Obama for telling supporters that "voting is the best revenge."

"Vote for revenge? Let me tell you: Vote for love of country," Romney said to cheers. 

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Obama made the remark at a Friday rally after supporters booed Romney. “No, no, no. Don't boo. Vote,” Obama told a crowd in Springfield, Ohio. “Voting is the best revenge.”

The GOP nominee jumped on the comment later that day, and his campaign released an ad attacking the president for it Saturday morning.

The Obama campaign said Saturday that the president's comment was made in the context of Romney's “scare tactics.”

Spokeswoman Psaki said a Romney TV ad running in the state that suggests Chrysler was moving production of Jeep models to China was an attempt at “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job.”

“And the message he was sending is if you don’t like the policies, if you don’t like the plan that Gov. Romney is putting forward, if you think that’s a bad deal for the middle class, then you can go to the voting booth and cast your ballot,” Psaki said. “It’s nothing more complicated than that.”

At rallies Saturday in Mentor, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Obama again used his "don't boo, vote" line, but he did repeat the revenge comment.

The president did, however, attack Romney on the Jeep ads during the Ohio appearance. 

“Changing the facts when they’re inconvenient to your campaign, that’s definitely not change,” Obama said at the rally in Mentor, Ohio. “But that’s what Gov. Romney’s been doing these last few weeks right here in Ohio.”

Team Obama continued to get questions about the “revenge” remark on a conference call with reporters late Saturday afternoon.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt did not repeat Psaki’s explanation that Obama was referring to the Jeep ads. Instead he said Obama’s revenge comment was just replacing his common “don’t’ boo, vote” refrain.

“If you disagree that we should return to the same policies that crashed the economy and devastated the middle class in the first place, the place to make your voice heard is at the polls, and that’s exactly what the president addressed last night,” LaBolt said.

LaBolt also took a shot at the Romney campaign for focusing on the comment.

“It’s interesting that that’s the closing argument that the Romney campaign is making. I think that it seems very small,” LaBolt said.

While Romney and Obama are deadlocked in most national polls, the president has held the lead in most swing-state polls, including those in every state Romney is visiting this weekend. While Romney's momentum following the first presidential debate seemed to be dissipating by the end of the week, to some observers it seems that Hurricane Sandy further stalled it — and gave President Obama a boost.

“If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to [Romney's] advantage,” top Republican strategist Karl Rove told The Washington Post Friday night.

The president visited Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters early Saturday before leaving for appearances in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Virginia. 

After a briefing and conference call on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, Obama said that his team was putting “120 percent” into making sure communities have the resources they need, adding that “there's nothing more important than us getting this right.”


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Romney also touched on bipartisanship during his New Hampshire appearance. After criticizing President Obama for last meeting with Republican leaders in Congress in July, Romney promised to do better.

"You know that if the president were to be reelected he would not be able to work with Congress, you know there would be more gridlock… the president just can't work with Congress, he's proven that time and time again," he said. "We can do it, I've done it before. We're going to work in Washington to help the people."

Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney has never worked across the aisle.

"Despite his claims in the final days of this race, Romney refused to work with Democrats as governor. And throughout this campaign, he has shown himself to be too weak to stand up to the far-right wing of the Republican Party – whether it’s Grover Norquist, Richard Mourdock, or the architects of Republican obstruction in Congress," Smith said.

Romney went further in an afternoon Iowa appearance, warning that the partisan gridlock that's gripped Washington the last two years will lead to more fights over the debt ceiling if Obama is reelected.

"There'll be a shutdown of government or a default. Can you imagine four more years of that?" he said.

Romney will also be in Colorado later on Saturday.

Romney also delivered the Republicans' weekly radio address on Saturday, touting his business experience and promising to kick-start the economy with his five-point economic plan.

"The question of this election comes down to this: Do you want more of the same or do you want real change? President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it," he said. We need a real turnaround if we are going to get our economy growing and get Americans working again. And I’ve led that kind of effort many times before."

--This report was originally published at 12:26 p.m. and last updated at 6:47 p.m.

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