Obama: Romney has had 'extreme makeover' to appear more centrist

President Obama accused Mitt Romney of trying to convince Americans that he was "severely kidding" when he was running as a "severely conservative" candidate in the Republican primary. 

The charge came during an animated speech by the president at the University of Miami on Thursday.


"He's trying to go through an extreme makeover. After running for more than a year in which he [said] he was 'severely conservative,' Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding," Obama said. 

"Look, what he was selling was not working because people understood that his ideas wouldn't help the middle class, so these days Mitt Romney's for whatever you're for.

"Suddenly he loves the middle class, can't stop talking enough about it. He loves Medicare, loves teachers. He even loves the most important parts of ObamaCare. What happened? Now what does he have to say this new version of Mitt Romney about all the things he's promised to do as president? Tax breaks for outsourcers? Never heard of such a thing. Saying we should cut back on teachers? Doesn't ring a bell."

The president noted that during his administration, the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed, a new directive on immigration was implemented and his administration bailed out the auto industry.

Obama added that if Romney was elected, he would be a rubber stamp for Republicans in Congress.

"He is going to say whatever it takes to try to close the deal. And he's counting on the fact that you're not going to remember [that] what he's selling is what got us into this mess in the first place," Obama said. "So Florida, you gotta let him know we remember. We know full well that if he gets the chance, Gov. Romney will rubber-stamp the top-down agenda of this Republican Congress the second he takes office, and we cannot afford that future.

"His plan will not create jobs. It will not help the middle class. It will not speed the recovery. It will slow down the recovery. It will not reduce the deficit. It will not expand opportunity. We can't afford it. We're not going back back. We're moving forward, and that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States."

The president also alluded to much-criticized remarks by Romney that were caught on tape during a closed-door fundraiser earlier in the year. 

At that fundraiser, Romney said that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him and depends on government handouts. 

Despite his campaign's repeated criticism of Romney's remarks, Obama did not mention them during the first presidential debate a week ago, a point he has been criticized for since. But he did seem to refer to them during his speech Thursday.

"You know back in 2008, I won, but 47 percent of the country, but you know I didn't just dismiss 47 percent of the country," Obama said.

"What I said was, 'you may not have voted for me but I heard your voices and I'll fight just as hard for you as I will for everybody else.' And I've kept that promise. I've been fighting for every American to make sure they'll get a fair shot."