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Change Washington? Romney in 2007 echoes Obama in 2012

September 20, 2012|By Seema Mehta

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla.  -- Mitt Romney lighted into President Obama on Thursday for saying that Washington could not be changed from the inside, but the GOP nominee said the same thing during his unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.

While running against Sen. John McCain, Romney sought to position himself as an outsider who could shake up the nation’s capital.

“I believe that at this time, to change Washington, it would be helpful to have somebody who comes with more private sector skill, experience outside Washington. I don't think you change Washington from the inside. I think you change it from the outside," Romney said in late 2007, according to NBC News.

Obama made a similar statement Thursday during a Univision forum in Coral Gables, Fla., saying that one of his biggest failures was his inability “to change the tone in Washington” and that he had learned from his time in office.

“Most important is you can’t change Washington from inside, only from the outside,” Obama said, adding that it was the American people who prompted Washington to act. “That’s how some of our biggest accomplishments like healthcare got done — mobilizing the American people.”

Romney seized upon the first part of the statement at a late-afternoon rally in Sarasota, Fla., saying that Obama's admission of failure was another reason voters needed to reject him in November.

“We face a Washington that’s broken, that can’t get the job done. The president today threw in the white flag of surrender again,” Romney told 4,600 supporters at a sweltering outdoor rally. “He said he can’t change Washington from inside, he can only change it from outside. Well, we’re going to give him that chance in November. He’s going outside!”

Romney deemed Obama’s sentiment “amazing,” and pledged that if he is elected president, he would accomplish more by working with both parties.

“I can change Washington, I will change Washington, we’ll get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together. He can’t do it,” Romney said. “His slogan was 'yes we can.' His slogan now is 'no I can’t.' This is time for a new president. He went from the president of change to the president who can’t get change.”

 seema.mehta@latimes.com

@LATSeema

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