Romney ’redistributes’ Obama quote out of context


Trying to squirm out of his 47-percent video mess, Mitt Romney unearthed a 14-year-old video of then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama saying, “I actually believe in redistribution.” But we have come to learn through experience that video coming out of Boston must be viewed with caution.

The folks at NBC News’s First Read have done a great service by posting the full context of Obama’s 1998 comments. The future president was speaking at a conference at Loyola University.  

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I think the trick is figuring out 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.

Decentralize? Competition? Marketplace? Innovation? I wonder how many people in that audience then wondered if the fella with the funny name was a closet Republican. As David Firestone of the New York Times noted yesterday, this nation “has long redistributed wealth, and that the country expects it to do so.” That’s why, as Stephen Stromberg argued yesterday, this attack by Romney “makes him look even more desperate.”

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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