The Republican National Committee tried to turn the tables on President Obama Wednesday, arguing Mitt Romney is the one who wants to use government money to help the disadvantaged in America move up the ladder.
RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer tweeted a link to a new RNC web ad featuring quotes from a 1998 interview that Republicans insist proves Obama harbors socialist leanings:
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The Obama quotes are contrasted with Romney lines, including one where the Republican presidential nominee touts the same kind of government assistance he appeared to reject in the “47 percent” video that has roiled his campaign.
“I believe the right course for America is one where the government steps in to help those that are in need,” it says. “Then we let people build their own lives, create enterprises, we believe in free people and free enterprise, not redistribution.”
It’s a line reminiscent of one Obama has been using on the campaign trail for months, except Obama calls on the rich to pay more in taxes to help pay for government spending he says will grow the economy by helping more people rise into the middle class.
Romney has cast that as dangerous, while agreeing with Obama’s central view that government investment created the infrastructure even the most financially successful Americans rely on.
The quote is striking in the wake of the “47 percent” video. The RNC told TPM that Romney’s praise for government assistance for needy Americans is much different than Obama’s calls for shared sacrifice to strengthen the middle class.
“This is about the proper role in government,” RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said. “What the president is calling for is a government-centered economy. Gov. Romney is calling for free enterprise as the root of our economy, acknowledging we have to help those in need.”
The RNC ad edits the Obama quotes to make the president sound more like the socialist Republicans continue to claim he is.
The first quote, from a 1998 university speech that resurfaced on Drudge Report amid Romney’s damage-control efforts over the hidden camera footage, is Obama talking a lot like he talks on the campaign trail today.
Then state Sen. Obama described how to “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 everybody’s got a shot.”
The RNC web ad cuts off “at least at a certain level to make sure everybody’s got a shot.”
The second quote in the ad attributed to Obama — the the “you didn’t build that” line Republicans have made a rallying cry — is also taken out of context, though Republicans have insisted that the full context is worse.