Obama's jab at Romney: Who describes a budget as 'marvelous'?

President Obama teased Mitt Romney for using that word. Was he being unpresidential? Or was it a smart, if subtle, attack on a rich guy who struggles with looking out of touch?

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Obama answers questions at the Associated Press annual meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

It was a light, throwaway moment in an otherwise dark speech that was aimed at painting Republicans – and Mitt Romney in particular – as believers in American decline, bent on destroying the social safety net.

But when President Obama tweaked Mr. Romney for using the word “marvelous,” the moment may have been telling as the two start to rumble for the fall election.

Mr. Obama noted that Romney has been supportive of the House GOP budget. “And he even called it ‘marvelous,’ which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget,” the president deadpanned, to chuckles from his audience Tuesday at the Associated Press annual meeting.  

Obama paused a second, the corners of his mouth curling upward. “It’s a word you don’t often hear generally,” he smiled.  The audience laughed.

With that one use of “marvelous,” Obama was letting us know that he’s onto the whole “Romney as out-of-touch rich guy” meme, and that we can probably expect more.  

Romney, of course, has set himself up for endless mockery, as he has made one “wealth gaffe” after another: His wife’s two Cadillacs. His plan (now on hold) for a car elevator in his home in La Jolla, Calif. His friendships with NASCAR and NFL team owners.

To some Republicans, such mockery in a serious policy speech was unpresidential. To Democrats, it’s red meat. Maybe next, Obama will borrow from Jon Stewart and start running campaign ads depicting Romney as Thurston Howell III. Or maybe he'll enlist Billy Crystal to reprise Fernando on “Saturday Night Live,” who told everyone, “You look mah-velous.

Or he could borrow from former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, who suggested a certain effeteness to Romney’s manner in a joke at the recent Gridiron press dinner in Washington.

"I keep waiting for him to say, 'Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?’ " the Texas governor said.

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