Facing intense scrutiny over comments at a May fundraiser, Mitt Romney sought to change the subject on Tuesday by drawing attention to audio released online of President Obama saying in 1998 that he believes, to an extent, in the redistribution of wealth.
“We have two very different views about America. The president’s view is one of a larger government. There’s a tape just came out today with the president saying he likes redistribution. I disagree,” Romney said in an interview on Fox News.
The Drudge Report linked to audio uploaded Tuesday on YouTube that is described on the video Web site as Obama, then an Illinois state senator, speaking at a 1998 conference at Loyola University in Chicago.
The audio clip is 96 seconds long. Toward the end, Obama says “I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure everyone’s got a shot.” The audio cuts off right after the word “shot,” so it is unclear what is said next.
The Obama campaign confirmed that is Obama’s voice on the recording and a spokesman moved to rebut Romney’s criticism of it.
“Fourteen years ago, then-Senator Obama was making an argument for a more efficient, more effective government – specifically citing city government agencies that he didn’t think were working effectively,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt in a statement. “He believed then, and believes now, that there are steps we can take to promote opportunity and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot if they work hard. Unlike Governor Romney, he doesn’t believe that if you’re a student who applies for a loan you’re looking for a handout.”
The video was posted to YouTube by an individual with the username “Nick Cruz,” who according to his profile on the Web site, just joined YouTube on Tuesday.
Additional audio from what appears to be Obama at the same event was posted by “Tim Thomas” on Aug. 7. That post utilized the same layout of text on a white background accompanying the audio. The subject of that clip is welfare reform legislation.
This isn’t the first time critics have tried to tie Obama to “redistribution” comments. During the 2008 presidential campaign, a 2001 interview in which Obama used the word “redistribution” came to light, but he did not appear to be advocating a wealth redistribution role for the Supreme Court, as an adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested at the time.
Also in 2008, Obama faced attacks from the McCain campaign after he told Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, “I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.”
“The Romney campaign is so desperate to change the subject that they’ve gone back to the failed playbook co-authored by Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber,” added LaBolt.