WOODBRIDGE, VA - President Barack Obama used a campaign rally in the northern reaches of this state to fight back attacks that his recent statement that Washington had failed to change " from the inside" was an admission of defeat.
Today the president attempted to frame his argument as one of reaching directly to the American people.
"I said, one thing I've learned is that you can't change Washington just from the inside," Obama told supporters in the Old Dominion. "You change it from the outside. You change it because people are mobilized. You change it with the help of ordinary Americans who are willing to make their voices heard."
During a town hall run by Spanish-language network Univision yesterday, the president said his "most important lesson" of four years in office was that Beltway politics could only change "from the outside." Republicans immediately seized on the comment, with Mitt Romney telling supporters that Obama's quip "threw in the white flag of surrender."
"I can change Washington," Romney told a crowd in Florida. "I will change Washington. I will get the job done from the inside."
Obama shot back today, trying to tip his opponent's response back onto the former Massachusetts governor.
"Now, for some reason, my opponent got really excited," Obama continued. "He rewrote his speech real quick. He stood up at a rally, proudly declared, I'll get the job done from the inside. What kind of inside job is he talking about?"
Obama told supporters that if a Romney's administration's job was "letting politicians decide who you can marry or control the health care choices women can make for themselves, we'll take a pass."
He suggested a Romney presidency would continue to let oil companies "rot" energy policy and let "outsourcers write out tax code."
Using outside pressure to effect change in the nation's capital has long been a recurring theme for the president, going back to his 2008 run.
The president also used the event to continue to poke at Mitt Romney's assertion that 47 percent of the electorate see themselves as "victims," dependent on government and unreachable by the Republican candidate's votes.
"I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims, who think that they're not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives," Obama said. "I don't see a lot of victims in this crowd today. I see hard-working Virginians."
Roughly 12,000 crowded into the stands of a Virginia minor league baseball team to hear the president speak, according to the local fire department, with overflow onto the field. This was Obama's 13 th trip since January to this traditionally red state, which Obama stole during his run in 2008.
The president's visit comes as new jobs numbers indicate Virginia lost 12,400 jobs in the last month, currently sitting at 5.9 percent unemployment. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the state has also seen a net gain of 151,000 workers since the recovery began in March 2010, a stat cited by both Democrats and Republicans as progress.