Mitt Romney arrives at a campaign rally in Sarasota, Fla., on September 20, 2012. (Jim Young/Reuters)Mitt Romney pounded President Barack Obama for saying, "You can't change Washington from the inside" at a rally in the sweltering Sarasota heat on Thursday. And he proudly promised Florida voters that he would "get the job done" where the Democrat did not.
"We face a Washington that's broken, that can't get the job done," the former Massachusetts governor told some 4,600 supporters. "The president today threw in the white flag of surrender again. He said he can't change Washington from the inside. He can only change it from outside.
"Well, we're going to give him that chance in November! He's going outside!" Romney said to cheers from the crowd. "I can change Washington, I will change Washington! We'll get the job done from the inside! Republicans and Democrats will come together!"
Romney was riffing on a comment Obama made Thursday at one of two town hall-style events hosted by Spanish-language network Univision at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. (Romney was at the network's first one, held on Wednesday.)
At the forum, Obama had said, "I think that I've learned some lessons over the last four years. And the most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside—you can only change it from the outside. That's how I got elected, and that's how the big accomplishments, like health care, got done. ... We mobilized the American people to speak out. That's how we were able to cut taxes for middle-class families.
"So something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term," the president continued, "is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward."
Romney painted the comment not as a testament to grass-roots activism, but as a betrayal of the "Hope and Change" vision and "Yes We Can" slogan from Obama's history-making 2008 run for the White House.
"His slogan was 'Yes We Can,'" said Romney. "His slogan now is 'No I Can't.' He went from the president of change to the president who can't get change.
"The president of the United States says he can't change Washington from the inside," continued Romney, who repeated that line more than once during the rally. "Isn't that amazing? No wonder he's had such a hard time over these last four years."
Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said in a release that Romney is "once again" taking the president's words out of context. "What the president said today is no different than what he has been saying for many years—that change comes from outside Washington, not inside," said Smith. "Mitt Romney apparently doesn't believe that change comes from the American people. Maybe that's because he has written off half the country in this election."