A newly released audio recording purports to feature a young Barack Obama saying he believes in government "redistribution" -- a comment that Mitt Romney quickly seized on to claim his opponent thinks "the government should take from some to give to the others."
The tape, posted on YouTube, was a throwback to the web video that emerged in 2008 showing Obama telling "Joe the Plumber" he wants to "spread the wealth around."
This recording purportedly was from a 1998 conference at Loyola University. In it, the young Obama tells the audience he believes there has been "a propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its efficacy."
"I think that what we're going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all," Obama says. "I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution -- because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."
The broader context of the talk is unclear. But Romney, who on Tuesday faced criticism about some of his own comments in a secretly recorded video, pointed to the Obama recording in arguing that he and his opponent have sharply different views on government.
Romney said there's a "great divide" in the country.
"I know some believe the government should take from some to give to the others," he told Fox News. "I think the president makes it clear in the tape that was released today that that's what he believes. I think that's an entirely foreign concept."
Romney, for his part, has endured a wave of criticism from Democrats over a video showing him speaking at a private fundraiser back in May. In the video, Romney could be heard saying the 47 percent of people who don't pay federal income tax "believe they are victims" and will support Obama "no matter what."
Romney defended his comments in the interview with Fox News on Tuesday -- and then cited the Obama recording to underscore his point that he and the president come at the job with two entirely different philosophies.
"Frankly, we have two very different views about America," Romney said. "The president's view is one of a larger government. There's a tape that just came out today (with) the president saying he likes redistribution. I disagree.
"I think a society based upon a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that's the wrong course for America. ... The right course for America is to create growth, create wealth."
Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus also flagged the YouTube link on his Twitter account, with the comment: "TELLING !"
The Obama campaign has not responded to a request for comment. But Obama hit back at Romney during a taping of the "Late Show" with David Letterman, disputing that Americans who aren't required to pay federal income taxes are "victims" and taking issue with Romney's comment that he didn't have to worry about those voters.
"My expectation is that if you want to be president, you have to work for everyone, not just for some," Obama said.