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4 Pinocchios for a truncated, 14-year-old Obama clip

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“As we think about the policy research surrounding the issues that I just named — policy research for the working poor, broadly defined — I think that what we're gonna have to do is somehow  resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all. There has been a systematic, I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign, against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policy making. And neither necessarily have been the Chicago public schools. What that means then is that as we try to resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live, and my suggestion I guess would be that the trick, and this is one of the few areas where I think there have to be technical issues that have to be dealt with as opposed to  just political issues, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.

— State Sen. Barack Obama, at a conference at Loyola University, Oct. 1998 [missing section in bold]

Just as we have not been very impressed about many of the Obama campaign’s claims about Mitt Romney’s business career many years ago, we were not initially that impressed with the Romney campaign’s effort to dredge up a 14-year-old quote to demonstrate that President Obama wants to “redistribute wealth.”  The clip was so old — he was just a state senator — and the context was rather unclear. Also, it appeared as if the YouTube version was clipped in mid-thought.

 But now NBC News has obtained the rest of Obama’s comments, and it is clear his remarks were taken completely out of context. Obama is not talking about redistributing wealth at all — instead, he speaks about competition, the market place and innovation in an effort to improve government services in Chicago.

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Nevertheless, the Romney campaign had seized on the remark as evidence of Obama’s apparently socialist tendencies. “You know, President Obama said he believes in redistribution,” GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Tuesday. “Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute the wealth. Mitt Romney and I are running to help Americans create wealth.”

 Below is the YouTube version — which now has more than 500,000 views — touted by the Romney campaign. You can see it is missing the section outlined in bold in the quote above.

<iframe width=”610” height=”340” src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/ge3aGJfDSg4?rel=0” frameborder=”0” allowfullscreen></iframe>

A Romney campaign spokesman said that the campaign only had the clip that was used on YouTube, not the rest of the Obama’s remarks.

We realize that the Romney campaign was trying to change the subject from the damaging video of Romney’s remarks in a private gathering just a few months ago. Perhaps this is a lesson that they might check the facts before they rush out with unfounded accusations — let alone ones based on remarks from the distant political past.

 

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