SALT LAKE CITY - Seeking to shift the attention away from a leaked video from a private fundraiser in which he said he doesn't have to worry about 47 percent of non-income tax paying Americans, Mitt Romney today sought to draw attention to a 1998 audio clip in which President Obama said he supports redistribution of wealth from "some" to "the others."
"The president's view is one of larger government, there's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution," said Romney during an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, the candidate's first interview since the leaked videos showed Romney referring to 47 percent of the American people who feel "entitled" and who are "dependent" on government.
"I disagree," said Romney on the issue of redistribution. "I think a society based upon a government centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that's the wrong course for America."
Romney was referring to an audio clip of then-Sen. Barack Obama's speech at a conference at Loyola University in 1998. Obama said at the time that he thinks he does "believe in redistribution."
"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 everybody's got a shot," Obama said at the time.
The audio file was posted on the conservative website The Drudge Report, which is run by Matt Drudge, a close friend of Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, under the headline "Revealed."
Romney used the audio to try and paint Obama as someone who supports the government taking "from some" to "give to the others," dubbing it an "entirely foreign concept."
Asked by Fox News' Cavuto if he was concerned he may have lost the electorate with his remarks at the fundraiser, Romney defended his argument.
"I recognize that those people who are not paying income tax are saying, gosh, this provision that Mitt keeps talking about, lowering income taxes, that's not going to be real attractive to them and those that are dependent upon government and those that think that government's job is to redistribute, I'm not going to get them," said Romney.
"I know there's a divide in the country about that view. I know that some believe that government should take from some and give to the others. I think the president makes it clear in the tape that was released today that that's what he believes," Romney added.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt fired back.
"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. 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," LaBolt said. "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."