Romney campaign on damage control after Florida fundraiser comments

September 18, 2012 2:48:48 PM PDT
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is trying to contain the damage from comments he made at a Florida fundraiser. He said 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes and are dependent on the government.

The comments were captured on a cellphone camera and posted on a liberal magazine's website.

The progressive Mother Jones magazine obtained the video made inside a private Romney fundraiser. The candidate says he was answering a question about his strategy to win the presidency, including which voters he did not expect to support him.

"I don't think it has that much of an impact because, technically, Mitt Romney was correct," said Republican commentator Dan Proft.

Proft and others at the Illinois Policy Institute conference do not believe the secretly recorded comments by Mitt Romney to donors will hurt the Republican's campaign.

Romney told wealthy donors he expected Americans who benefited from government programs to vote for President Barack Obama.

"There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them," Romney said. "These are people who pay no income tax...So my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

"I think he was definitely speaking a truth in that there are too many people in this country who look toward government to solve all their problems and get them through life," said Rep. Joe Walsh, (R) northwest suburbs.

Romney had second thoughts only about how he made his point.

"It not elegantly stated, let me put it that way," said Romney. "I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question...I'm sure I could have stated it more clearly and in a more effective way."

"Governor Romney, take your time and give us an elegant response and try to explain to us how the 47 percent of the American people are irresponsible," said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.

Senator Durbin said even he needed a government-backed loan to finish college.

"There are a lot of hard-working, middle-income families who send their kids to college because of the help of a government program," Durbin said. "Are these people irresponsible?"

In his comments last spring Romney did not specify if he included student loans, Medicare, Social Security, housing and veterans' programs among the "entitlements" that he says nearly half the American public receives.

Already, the Obama campaign has released a video featuring voters reacting to Romney.

Illinois Republican Congressman Aaron Schock criticized his party's presidential candidate for conceding any votes to President Obama.

"I believe as a Republican officeholder, our party has to compete for every vote," said Rep. Shock, (R) Peoria.

Already, the Obama re-election campaign has used the Romney recordings in ads on YouTube with angry voters reacting to the Republican presidential candidate's comments.

Republicans ABC7 interviewed Tuesday do not believe this controversy has "legs," as they say. They expect it to blow over in a couple of days. But that's two more days of Governor Romney "off-message."


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