ATLANTA — After two days of being derailed by a secretly recorded speech to donors, Mitt Romney sought Wednesday to reframe the presidential contest, insisting he does care about all Americans, offering a full-throated defense of his view of government’s role in society and slamming President Obama for supporting wealth “redistribution.”
“The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class? I do. He does. The question is who can help the poor and the middle class? I can! He can’t!” Romney told about 1,000 cheering donors who spent up to $50,000 to attend a fundraising luncheon here.
Romney has faced a rough 48 hours on the trail because of a recording released Monday of him describing the 47% of voters who support Obama as dependent on government, believing they are victims and not paying income taxes. Romney said he had no hope of swaying these people to his side.
"[M]y job is not to worry about those people,” Romney said in the recording, which was obtained by Mother Jones magazine. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Romney seized on a videotape posted Tuesday of President Obama discussing the distribution of resources 14 years ago to argue the president has a world view that is “foreign.”
Obama “really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society. I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America,” Romney said. “There’s a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said yes he believes in redistribution. I don’t. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all."
Obama has received heat for such statements in the past, notably in an exchange with Joe the Plumber during the 2008 campaign. Romney sought to link the tape to a statement Obama made earlier this year about how government spending helps businesses.
“This idea of redistribution follows from the idea that if you have a business you didn’t build it, someone else did that,” Romney said. “It’s the same concept. That see, government is responsible for everything that’s gone on here. And therefore government can take and give as it chooses. It’s an entirely foreign concept that will not work, that has not worked. That has never worked anywhere in the world.”
The recording of Obama, posted by the Drudge Report, is of the then-state senator speaking at Loyola University in Chicago about how government can help the poor.
“I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution,” Obama said, “because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure everybody’s got a shot.”