Update: Turns out the Romney people cut off the last sentence of the Obama quote in question.
So now Romney is picking on Obama's 1998 remarks about "redistribution," claiming that redistribution has "never characterized America" (paraphrased). Ye gods. One has to be either profoundly ignorant or profoundly stupid (or both) to say such a thing. I guess I'll go with profoundly ignorant.
This is just more of the same old tired ploy of trying to portray Obama as a socialist. I know some socialists. Believe me, Obama is not one. And that will remain true no matter how often Romney repeats that he, Romney, is for a "free society" as opposed to a "government-centered" society, that he (Romney) knows that "redistribution" is so un-American, blah blah blah.
Ever since Reagan's election in 1980 Republicans have been trying to bottle the Reagan magic by repeating his bromides. But Reagan didn't win because of his bromides. He won because he projected an image of confidence and optimism. He was an actor by profession whose favorite recreation was to ride horses and split logs. Romney does not, as far as I know, split logs (although his wife does like horses). As a youth, Reagan was a lifeguard. Romney by contrast carried the hockey team's sticks and helped cut off a kid's hair because he thought it was too long. Romney's efforts to channel Reagan by repeating all this garbage about redistribution will fail. It's really a sign of desperation.
Added later (to cross the t's and dot the i's): Virtually every country's public policies are redistributive, both upward and downward, to one extent or another. That there is less redistribution, particularly less downward redistribution, in the U.S. than in certain other countries does not mean there is no redistribution at all or that the notion of redistribution is alien to the U.S.
Romney is interested in contrasting European domestic policies on redistribution to U.S. policies but this is a contrast that easily can be overdrawn. Of course, for political reasons Romney has an incentive to overdraw it, or at least he thinks he does.