Mitt Romney touted the ability of Washington insiders and politicians to change the course of the country on Thursday, seizing on a quote from President Obama during a Univision forum. “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,” Obama said. “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, was because we mobilized the American people to speak out.”
Romney appeared to disagree during a rally at Sarasota, Florida, telling the crowd that he will change the country — not with the support of his constituents or his base — but by bringing “Republicans and Democrats” together to implement his agenda:
ROMNEY: He said he can’t change Washington from inside. He can only change it from outside. Well, we’ll give him that chance in November, he’s going outside. I can change Washington, I will change Washington, I’ll get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together.
The new attack is a departure from Romney’s repeated claims that only Washington outsiders, particularly those with private sector experience, can change the course of the country. The GOP presidential candidate has previously said that he plans to fill his cabinet with appointees from the business world (people like Meg Whitman or BET President Debra Lee), eschewing career politicians or bureaucrats.
It’s a message he echoed throughout his campaign. “The idea that somehow everything important for conservativism or for America happens in government is simply wrong,” Romney explained in January. “I’ve been in the private sector. I worked in one business that was in trouble and helped turn it around.”
During a debate in December, when he characterized many of his GOP opponents as career politicians, Romney said, “having spent my life in the private sector, I understand where jobs are created. They’re not created in government, they’re not created in Washington. They’re created on Main Streets and streets all over America.”
— Greg Noth contributed research to this post.
Back in 2007, Romney agreed that change does not start in Washington. “I don’t think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside,” he said on December 30, 2007.