Obama in Virginia (Jason Reed/Reuters)
WOODBRIDGE, Va.—President Barack Obama took another shot at Mitt Romney's suggestion that 47 percent of Americans have a "victim" mentality, casting his opponent as out of touch with the country.
"I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as victims who will never take responsibility," Obama declared at a rally here.
The president also defended his suggestion before a Univision forum yesterday, in which he said he'd learned "you can't change Washington from the inside." Obama said that he meant the only real change comes from outside Washington—and mocked Romney for twisting his comments.
"My opponent got really excited. He stood up at a rally and proudly declared, 'I'll get the job done from the inside,'" Obama said. "What kind of inside job is he talking about? ... We don't want an inside job in Washington. We want change in Washington. ... That can't happen if you've written off half the country."
It was the second time in 24 hours that Obama took a shot at Romney's "47 percent" comment, which was captured in a secretly taped video of the Republican candidate speaking at a Florida fundraiser in May. The video, leaked to Mother Jones magazine, showed Romney saying that Obama's supporters—which he estimated to be about 47 percent of the country—view themselves as victims and are reliant on government handouts.
Romney has downplayed his comments, suggesting he was just talking about the political landscape of the race. During his appearance at the Univision forum, Romney insisted he was running to represent "100 percent of America."
But the GOP candidate's remarks have clearly given an opening to Obama, who wove in multiple references to the video throughout his appearance in Virginia, a hotly contested battleground state.
A Washington Post poll released earlier this week found Obama had significantly expanded his lead in the state, edging out Romney by 8 points—52 percent to 44 percent.
At least 11,000 people turned out to see the president here—spreading across the outfield of a minor-league baseball stadium. Echoing his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama repeatedly insisted he needed another term to accomplish the "change" he promised as a candidate in 2008.
"We've always said that change takes more than one term or even one president. It certainly takes more than one party," Obama said, insisting he would work with Republicans if they were willing.
Making yet another reference to Romney's "47 percent" remark, Obama acknowledged that half the country didn't vote for him four years ago—and that half the country might not support him again in November. But he explained he was not running "to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs" but rather "American jobs," and that he wasn't running to improve circumstances in "blue states" versus "red states." Obama insisted he's running to represent all Americans—whether he wins someone's vote or not.
"I still believe we are not as divided as our politics suggest," Obama said. "I still believe we have more in common than the pundits tell us."
To his supporters, he added, "I still believe in you, and I'm asking you to keep believing in me."