WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- "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. I don't see a lot of victims in this crowd today," President Barack Obama is saying, not having to mention Mitt Romney's name.
The friendly crowd knows whom -- and what -- he is talking about.
The fallout from a videotape of Romney at a Florida fund-raiser -- talking to his mega-donors about Obama's backers, a supposed 47 percent "who believe that they are victims," are entitled to government handouts and don't pay income taxes -- has dominated the presidential campaign since it was posted online Tuesday by David Corn, the Washington Bureau Chief of Mother Jones magazine.
It's Friday afternoon and Obama is at a rally in a minor-league baseball stadium -- the home of the Potomac Nationals -- punching at Romney over the videotape and a new line of attack from the Romney team that has some promising possibilities -- that Obama failed to deliver on his promise of changing how Washington works.
Which is true.
And Obama said so in a Thursday interview. He's using his remarks at this rally to do some table-turning repair work.
If Obama indeed wins a second term -- this week might be seen as significant, a turning point.
Several polls released in the past days have put Obama ahead in Virginia and other battleground states: in Wisconsin, where Obama stumped and fund-raised in Milwaukee on Saturday; Iowa, Colorado and Ohio.
And a new survey also shows the damage the "47 percent" remarks have done to Romney. A poll for Reuters/Ipsos released Wednesday found 59 percent "felt Romney unfairly dismissed almost half of Americans as victims" and 43 percent "viewed Romney less favorably" after they were shown a portion of the video -- secretly shot in May at a Boca Raton home.
The stadium where Obama is speaking to several thousand folks holding up "Forward" signs under the hot sun is in northern Virginia -- with much of this turf made up of Washington suburbs whose residents are swing voters.
Four years ago on election eve -- Obama held his last rally of the 2008 campaign a few miles away, in Manassas, and it was a keeper, a massive crowd. I posted on my blog as it was happening:
"A sea of some 90,000 people rallied for Barack Obama in northern Virginia late Monday night, in the last rally of a two-year presidential campaign that is poised to vault the Illinois senator to the White House on Tuesday.
"Even if we're successful tomorrow, we will be facing bigger challenges than probably any administration since FDR. But you and I know, you can feel in your gut, something happening here. That it is time together. It is time to look at the future again," Obama said.
As we all know now, the future did not include Obama ushering in a post-partisan era in Washington. A central premise of the 2008 campaign was that Obama would somehow transform the "same old politics in Washington."
Which he did not.
On Thursday, during a Univision Town Hall in Miami Obama said -- and this seemed like a concession -- "The most important lesson I've learned is that you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside."
Romney immediately pounced on that opening -- saying he wants to give Obama a chance to do just that -- be on the outside.
Obama, doing damage control at the rally, is dismissing what he said at Univision as old news.
"Now, yesterday, I made this same point at a town hall in Florida. . . . Now, for some reason my opponent got really excited. 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? Is it the job of rubberstamping the top-down, you're-on-your-own agenda of this Republican Congress? "
Now Romney in that damaging video -- being disdainful of Obama supporters -- said, "my job is not to worry about" them.
Obama at the rally -- winding up -- said that his job is to worry about the 47 percent who did not support him in 2008 -- and those who may not in 2012.
Said Obama, leveraging that videotape one more time at P-Nats park, "for everybody who is watching, or anybody here who is still undecided, I don't know how many people are going to vote for me this time around . . . but I'm telling the American people I will be fighting for you no matter what.''