Republicans’ line of attack this week is that President Obama favors wealth-redistribution policies based on a clip of Obama from 1998 in which he says he believes in “redistribution” — setting up the campaign as a choice between free enterprise and big government.
But the clip circulated by Republicans fails to include part of Obama’s remarks in which he went on to advocate for “competition” and “innovation,” according to a video of the full relevant remarks obtained by NBC News. The clip used by Republicans was posted to YouTube Tuesday by a user who has not been identified, according to an ABC News report.
“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,” Obama says in the clip released earlier this week.
In the fuller remarks, Obama went on to say: “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.”
Republicans began pushing the 14-year old clip Tuesday in an effort to mitigate the damage from leaked footage of Mitt Romney criticizing 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes. “The president’s view is one of a larger government,” Romney said on Fox News Tuesday, trying to change the subject from his own leaked comments. “There is a tape that came out where the president is saying he likes redistribution. I disagree.”
Republicans have kept up the attacks on Obama’s redistribution comment. “The telling audio from Barack Obama’s days as an Illinois State Senator only reaffirms his belief in a government-centered society,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement Thursday morning. “His failed agenda over the past four years has promoted government dependency and has left this country struggling.”
Update: RNC Spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski responded to the fuller comments in an email to TPM:
Barack Obama said he believes in redistributing wealth among Americans and his policies over the past three and a half years bear that out. Under Obama we have increased our dependency on government with 47 million Americans on food stamps, record levels added to our debt and gutting work requirements for welfare. Instead of pro-growth policies, the Obama administration says they are relying on increased food stamps and unemployment to stimulate the economy.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.