Obama: 'You Can't Change Washington From the Inside'

And Mitt Romney quickly pounces

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 20, 2012 8:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – This one is shaping up to be the soundbite of the day, courtesy of President Obama. At a Univision forum in Miami, the president said this when reflecting on his first term:

  • “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.”
Cue Mitt Romney, who sounded like a man very happy to deflect attention from some soundbites of his own:
  • "I couldn't believe it when the president of the United States said he couldn't get change from the inside," Romney said, as per the Hill. Obama's slogan, he added, has gone from “Yes we can” to “No I can’t.”
  • And: "I can change Washington, I will change Washington. We'll get the job from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together."

Other reaction:

  • From the right: "The President of the United States is powerless to influence Washington’s inner workings?" asks Erika Johnsen at Hot Air. "I thought that was supposed to be the entire point of America electing him?"
  • From the left: Come on, Obama has said much the same thing before, and he'll say it again, writes Jed Lewison at Daily Kos. And Romney thinks he can create change by uniting the country? "This is a guy who can't even get Republicans on his side. This is a guy who appeared at a fundraiser earlier this year and sneeringly dismissed half of Americans as worthless moochers who will never, ever support him."
  • Neutral ground: Maggie Haberman at Politico finds Obama's comment "surprising" for an incumbent. "If the small pool of persuadable voters see Obama as saying Washington is irretrievably broken, even for him, they could be open to a fresh case from his opponent."
  • Deja vu: "I don't think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside." Mitt Romney, 2007, as noted by Politico.

President Obama participates in a town hall hosted by Univision and Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos, left and Maria Elena Salinas at the University of Miami.
President Obama participates in a town hall hosted by Univision and Univision news anchors Jorge Ramos, left and Maria Elena Salinas at the University of Miami.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In this Sept. 12 photo, President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House.
In this Sept. 12 photo, President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
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A BuzzFeed clip of the president's comments.   (YouTube)

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