Apparently, the Romney campaign has an audio clip stuffed in a drawer for such an eventuality as this.
The audio clip first surfaced Tuesday, as Democrats were seizing upon their own video of Romney speaking at a private fund-raiser in Florida. That event was held in May.
The clip of Obama was recorded in 1998 at Loyola University, according to Romney's campaign and fellow Republicans who are aggressively promoting it. It features the future president discussing what he calls a "propaganda campaign" against government funded entities, and suggesting better ways to make government more effective.
"There has been a systematic – I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign – against the possibility of government action and its efficacy," he is heard saying in the audio clip. "And I think some of it has been deserved."
Later in the recording, Obama says he wants to "resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how – what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live."
He continues: "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 some redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
It's those final words – "I actually believe in some redistribution" – that Republicans have latched onto, characterizing them as an endorsement of redistributing wealth, rather than making sure government agencies were well supported. Many conservatives argue redistributing wealth is akin to socialism.
The clip, which appeared Tuesday afternoon on the conservative Drudge Report website, was subsequently tweeted by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
When Romney appeared on Fox News later in the day, he made the "redistribution" video a central part of his first answer.
"The president's view is one of larger government," Romney said. "There's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution. I disagree. 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, that will not build a stronger America, or help people out of poverty."
This, of course, is gobledygook, and a gross exaggeration of what the president was saying (14 years ago). Of course Obama likes redistribution "to a certain extent". Redistribution comes in many forms: Social Security, Medicare, veteren's benefits, grants to students. It also comes in the form of relief to the victims of Katrina, for example. If Romney wants to end all that, then he needs to say so, but he won't because he's in favor of it, too.
Sillier still is the idea that America will re-assess Obama because of what he said 14 years ago. Obama has been president for the past 4 years. If he were a redistributor in a way that offends Americans, we would know by now.