President Obama speaks at the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images )
President Obama mocked Mitt Romney on Sunday night for shifting his positions in the first nationally televised debate, saying his foe is not offering “change,” but a “relapse” to failed GOP policies. But Obama also acknowledged the poor reviews of his own showing.
As he took the stage at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles after a star-studded “30 Days to Victory” concert, the president praised the performers who entertained a crowd of 6,000, with a nod to the “old-school” Earth Wind and Fire, and the “new-school” Katy Perry.
“My understanding is it was an incredible show,” said Obama, who was whisked downtown only moments before he took the stage.
“They just perform flawlessly night after night. I can’t always say the same,” he added sheepishly.
Before some of his most fervent backers – most of whom paid at least $250 to attend – Obama also recalled that his 2008 campaign was not without its "bumps in the road."
“Things always look better in retrospect. But in the middle we made all kinds of mistakes,” he said. “We goofed up. I goofed up. But the American people carried us forward. And even with all the things we had going for us, all the way things just kind of converged, 47% of the country still didn’t vote for me.”
Obama said that everything he and his supporters fought for in 2008 "is on the line here in 2012."
"I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go through another round of top-down economics," he said. Linking Romney with the Bush administration record, he said: "That's not change. That's a relapse."
The president has been criticized for failing to respond aggressively in Wednesday’s Denver debate when Romney rejected assertions that his tax plan would amount to a $5-trillion hole in the budget. But on Sunday, Obama had an answer.
“A few weeks before this election, he’s trying to pretend it doesn’t exist,” he said of Romney’s insistence that his tax plan would not have that effect. “Because that’s a lot easier than trying to explain how he’d pay for it without asking middle-class families to pick up the tab.”
Obama noted that among the only specific cuts Romney listed to offset his proposed tax breaks was ending the subsidy for PBS. “So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry, somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird. Elmo’s made a run for the border,” he said.
Obama was in Los Angeles as part of a two-day California swing that is expected to add as much as $10 million to his war chest with fundraisers in southern and northern California. On Monday, he is also due to visit the home and gravesite of labor leader Cesar Chavez, which Obama will dedicate as a national monument.