Susan Walsh, Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks about choice facing women in the election during a campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Friday, Oct. 19, 2012.
FAIRFAX, Va. — President Barack Obama offered a mocking medical diagnosis Friday for what he considers rival Mitt Romney's bout with shifting positions: "Romnesia."
Making a direct gender-pitch in hotly contested Virginia, Obama told a crowd of women and college students that when it comes to issues important to women's health and jobs, Romney has conveniently overlooked his past stands.
"He's forgetting what his own positions are — and he's betting that you will too," Obama told an audience of 9,000 at George Mason University. "I mean he's changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping. We've got to name this condition that he's going through. I think it's called Romnesia."
Obama, a broad grin on his face, borrowed heavily from the style of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, known for his "you might be a redneck" standup routines. The comedy offered the president a warm-up of sorts before Monday's final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla.
"If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be 'delighted' to sign a law outlawing that right to choose in all cases, man, you've definitely got Romnesia," he said.
Riffing as if he were still delivering one-liners at Thursday night's Catholic charity dinner in New York, Obama said he had good news for anyone who suffers from Romnesia. "Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions," he bellowed. "We can fix you up. We've got a cure! We can make you well, Virginia. This is a curable disease," Obama said, pounding the podium.
Republicans said the exchange was steeped in irony, noting that then-candidate Obama said during a Virginia event in 2008 that voters "don't deserve a bunch of name-calling" or a "bunch of mud-slinging."
"Women haven't forgotten how we've suffered over the last four years in the Obama economy," said Republican Barbara Comstock, a member of Virginia's House of Delegates.
Obama renewed his criticism of Romney's economic plan, quoting a line in a New York Times column by economist Paul Krugman. "There's no jobs plan. There's just a snow job on the American people."
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Obama added, "If he offered you that deal when he was in corporate finance, you wouldn't give him a dime." So why, Obama asked, would voters cast their ballots for him.
Obama's message was aimed at suburban women who form a formidable voting bloc in northern Virginia. The president raised once more Romney's comment during the second debate that he received "binders full of women" when he sought to diversify his cabinet as Massachusetts governor. "You don't want someone who needs to ask for binders of women. You don't want that guy," Obama said.