WASHINGTON – President Obama delivered a stern and stinging rebuke of the Republican vision for the country Tuesday, castigating the GOP as a radical party that has strayed so far from the political middle that its policies represent an affront to core American values and beliefs.
Singling out GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney for the first time, Obama sought to lump all Republicans under an ideological umbrella that, he argued, has shifted far from the days of the partys more moderate icons such as Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. Reagan, he said, would be unelectable in the modern Republican Party.
Obama said the House Republican budget plan, which has been endorsed by Romney and would slash entitlements and agency spending, is so far to the right on the political spectrum that it makes the Republicans 1994 Contract With America look like the New Deal.
This isnt a budget supported by some small rump group in the Republican Party, Obama said.
This is now the partys governing platform. This is what theyre running on.
Mocking Romney for calling the House budget marvelous, the president added that the plan, which aims to trim $5.3 trillion from federal spending over the next decade, would create a form of social Darwinism pitting the poor against the wealthy.
Its a Trojan horse, he declared in an address to newspaper editors in Washington.
Disguised as a deficit-reduction plan, its really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. Its a prescription for decline.
The speech was the third and by far the most aggressively partisan that Obama has given since late last year on what he describes as the countrys drift from its principles – most particularly a sense of economic fairness – that he contends has damaged the middle class.
He did not attack Republicans on Tuesday simply on their policies but also on their idea of what it means to be an American, calling their vision antithetical to our entire history.
The presidents blunt assessment opened a new front in the 2012 campaign in a week when Romney moved closer to securing the Republican nomination.
Obamas tone marked a sharp departure from his more nuanced approach of last summer, when he distinguished between the moderate and conservative wings of the GOP while trying to win bipartisan agreement on a grand bargain to reduce the budget deficit.
By veering from his 2008 campaign pledge to instill a spirit of bipartisanship in Washington, Obama is gambling that he can convince voters, especially the decisive bloc of independents, that his opponents are the ones to blame.