The 14-year-old audio clip circulated by the Mitt Romney campaign this week to attack Barack Obama as favoring “redistribution” of wealth was “deceptively edited,” Democrats say, leaving out important context that Obama provided in his next breath.
In the clip Republicans are pushing around – and Romney now cites on the stump – then Illinois State Sen. Obama is heard speaking at a university conference in October 1998, appearing to endorse “redistribution” of wealth.
“I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot,” Obama is heard saying on the clip, which then abruptly ends.
In the full recording, obtained by NBC News, Obama continues to explain in the next sentence that he is speaking broadly about making city and state government more efficient in their use of resources — and endorses “competition” in the “marketplace.”
“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,” he says.
The edit of the last line out of the clip earned Romney and the Republican National Committee a “four pinocchios” rating by fact checkers at the Washington Post.
When asked about the newly revealed context, RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski insisted that Obama’s comments still reflected a commitment to fostering government dependence.
“His policies over the past three and a half years bear that out,” Kukowski said. “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.”
The Romney campaign notes that secretly-taped videos of Mitt Romney at a Florida fundraiser in May – in which the GOP nominee is seen disparaging the 47 percent of the country who don’t pay federal income taxes – were also edited when they were first posted online by Mother Jones magazine.
The magazine later posted the entire raw, unedited footage, though up to two minutes of Romney’s remarks were missing, according to Mother Jones, because the recording equipment operated by the anonymous videographer failed.
One of the edited Romney clips suggested he had given up on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But the entire tape made clear that he thought it was wishful thinking without more action from the Palestinians.
This post has been updated and the headline of this item has been changed to reflect it is not entirely clear who edited the audio posted on Youtube.