WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney made fun of President Barack Obama's new campaign slogan, "Forward," on Wednesday night at a fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Pentagon City, Va.
"Forward, what, over the cliff?” Romney said, eliciting laughs from the crowd of approximately 250 well-heeled donors, who paid from $2,500 to $20,000 for the privilege of attending.
Romney awkwardly led into his joke by saying Obama's "new slogan is: Progress. No, forward. Forward! That’s it!" Progress would be better. I might use that one myself, actually."
Romney also criticized what he characterized as the "divisiveness" of the Obama campaign's populist message, which he said "is seizing upon envy and jealousy to attack fellow Americans and try to divide us."
"It's time for us to stop the attacks on success at home," he said.
Other speakers at the event echoed the sentiment, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who said his state's "pro-growth" policies make it "so more people can live the dream Romney has lived."
Romney delivered his standard stump speech, recalling his meetings with entrepreneurs and with "everyday Americans" struggling to make ends meet. "Sometimes it's kind of heartbreaking," he said.
"Obama didn't create the recession, but he has overseen the most tepid recovery we have seen since Hoover," Romney said.
Romney also said he "looks forward to eliminating programs," a line that caused controversy last month when he was overheard telling donors in Florida that he plans to consolidate and eliminate some governent programs, and suggested that the Department of Housing and Urban Development "might not be around later."
In Virginia, however, the only program Romney singled out for elimination was "Obamacare," the president's health care reform law.
HuffPost was one of only two media organizations present at the event, part of a new pool reporting system in which individual reporters take turns covering an event and providing notes for the entire press corps. HuffPost's Michael Calderone reported earlier on the controversy stirred by Romney's campaign refusing to allow the website BuzzFeed to be part of the pool, classifying the growing site as a "blog," rather than a news organization. Reporters in the pool pushed back, and Buzzfeed has been added to the pool list and will presumably take a turn covering Romney fundraisers.
UPDATE: 6:39 p.m. -- A fundraiser for the Romney campaign told HuffPost that the total raised from the evening's events was "north of $2.3 million." This, combined with a Feb. 9 fundraiser at the JW Marriott in nearby Washington that netted $1.6 million, puts Romney's fundraising since January from events in the Washington area at approximately $3.9 million.