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Romney tries to get on track after video remarks

By Nedra Pickler and Steve Peoples

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:00 a.m. HST, Sep 18, 2012

WASHINGTON » Mitt Romney sought to get his campaign back on track today after the revelation of a video in which he said nearly half of Americans "believe they are victims," are dependent on the government and bound to vote for President Barack Obama. The Obama campaign worked to spread the quotes to any voters who hadn't already heard them.

Obama himself headed for New York for an appearance on David Letterman's TV couch and a fundraiser with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Romney planned no apology but was expected to respond to questions about the video by reinforcing the reaction he delivered Monday night: that Obama favors "a government-centered society" with people dependent on public support.

Obama's campaign, seeing an opportunity to build on its earlier efforts to cast the Republican as out of touch with average Americans, emailed a fundraising appeal to supporters and posted a video online asking voters to watch Romney's comments and respond.

"I actually felt sick to my stomach," one woman says in the web video.

Another woman says, "That's not somebody who I'm thinking, 'Oh, I want him as my president.'"

Romney advisers concede the video came at a bad time — seven weeks before Election Day and with early voting beginning in two dozen states by this weekend. They acknowledge the remarks may dominate news coverage for days but dispute the notion that Romney's comments could fundamentally change the election.

The unscripted moment was reminiscent of the 2008 campaign, when Obama was caught telling the wealthy wing of his party at a private fundraiser in San Francisco that some residents of depressed rural areas get bitter and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."

In the Romney video, recorded at a Florida fundraiser in May, the candidate says 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes and believe they are entitled to extensive government support. "My job is not to worry about those people," he said.

After the video posted late Monday afternoon on Mother Jones magazine's website, Romney told reporters that while his comments were "not elegantly stated," he stood by his remarks.

"Those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government," Romney said in Costa Mesa, Calif., doubling down on his statement.

Romney running mate Paul Ryan focused on the limited-government argument while campaigning in New Hampshire, without mentioning the video. He mistakenly called it the "Ryan-Romney plan" for a stronger middle class before correcting himself and promising the two would put Americans back to work rather than encourage dependency on government.

Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Iowa, declined to comment on the video. "I'll let his words speak for themselves," Biden said while shaking hands with voters after a speech in Ottumwa.

A pro-Obama super political action committee quickly pushed up the air date for a new television advertisement in response to the video.

The ad, from Priorities USA Action, was previously shown online and never mentions the Romney video because it was produced before it became public. But the super PAC says it believes the ad's message serves as a counter to the Republican nominee's words and bought time to begin airing it as early as today on stations in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Doesn't Mitt Romney understand we can't rebuild America by tearing down the middle class?" the narrator says. The group also is likely to start running new ads using Romney's words from the fundraising video.

Obama was told about the video Monday afternoon by staff traveling with him on a campaign trip to Ohio. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say whether Obama had watched the video or to characterize the president's reaction to Romney's remarks.

"Setting aside what Gov. Romney thinks, I can tell you that the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims, that students are irresponsible or are victims," Carney said.

The president has not publicly commented on the video, but could do so today when he tapes an interview with David Letterman and delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. After that, Obama was set to collect nearly $4 million at a $40,000-a-ticket fundraiser at a Manhattan nightclub with husband and wife musicians Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Romney had no public appearances scheduled today and planned to raise money in Salt Lake City and in Dallas with former first lady Laura Bush at the Bushes' Texas home.

Looking to change the subject, Romney's campaign rolled out a new television ad featuring a mother and infant, aimed at cutting into Obama's advantage with female voters. It argued that Obama's economic policies would make women's lives harder.

In the video, Romney said 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. About 46 percent of Americans owed no federal income tax in 2011, although many of them paid other forms of taxes. More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

In the clip released by Mother Jones, Romney also is asked about the "Palestinian problem." He gives a rambling response, then says "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace" and "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Los Angeles, Holly Ramer in Dover, N.H., and Charles Babington, Julie Pace and Philip Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.

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Ronin006 wrote:
Romney is right about nearly half of Americans believing they are victims of the system. And you know what? His position is supported by the Democrat Party itself. That’s right. Massachusetts Senate candidate, Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, said in a key-note address at the Democrat National Convention that “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right." And here is another painful part: that makes them victims. Delegates signaled their agreement by bursting into applause.
on September 18,2012 | 09:10AM
hotdoggin7 wrote:
all this guy wants is to take away what little we have. cut cut cut programs for the middle class and the poor,.hope this keeps him out of the white house. the media blew off the fact he beat up and cut a gay guys hair back in college, but this wont go away. bout time he got burned for playing with fire :-P
on September 18,2012 | 09:17AM
Ronin006 wrote:
What Romney wants is what most hard-working income tax paying Americans should want, and that is for able-bodied working age deadbeats living on government handouts to get off their hind sides, get a job, and start paying their fair share of income taxes. How can anyone except deadbeats find fault with that?
on September 18,2012 | 09:43AM
lee1957 wrote:
What middle class programs are being cut?
on September 18,2012 | 11:32AM
EightOEight wrote:
Well, we don't really know do we because Romney refuses to provide specifics on his budget proposals, which the Congressional Budget Office said is mathematically impossible to achieve based on the information he has provided. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated, "...Romney's proposals to cap total federal spending, boost defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget would require extraordinarily large cuts in other programs, both entitlements and discretionary programs.". Medicaid, Medicare, education, research, law enforcement, environmental, vet health care etc. etc. etc. so it will adversely affect EVERYONE. AND, he wants more deregulation. Get you head out of your a55.
on September 18,2012 | 04:35PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Even if Romney gets into office (fat chance) there will be alot of push-back from any programs he plans to cut or reduce.
on September 18,2012 | 09:20AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I wonder how much taxes Jay-Z and Beyonce paid?
on September 18,2012 | 09:44AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Romney reveals that he is not even about survival of the fittest, but survival of the chosen. Where in history have we heard that before? What result? True color? You bet. This guy is trying to be President of the place you live. The place your friends live. The place you Family lives. The place your kids live and will live. Will they ever be in the 47% MR. ROMNEY OPENLY BRAGS HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT???? Will you? If so, you want him at the wheel?
on September 18,2012 | 11:11AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Agree. Remember this was at a private fundraiser in a millionaire's posh home in Florida, where Mitt was surrounded by his kind of people. The right kind. So, there was no slip of the tongue. It was all intentional. He thought he was amongst friends who thought the way he did. It must have been someone on the catering staff who "inadvertently" left his iPhone on video and pointed it "accidentally" at Romney's table., recording the fact that Romney doesn't care about the people who he deems beneath him. Mitt, Mitt, what about the 47%ers who are on Social Security and Medicare, or the disabled veterans collecting unemployment? Talking to the empty chair: What's that Mitt? "Let them eat cake!", you say? I thought you were running for President, not Queen.
on September 20,2012 | 01:24AM
group22 wrote:
Oh....who cares what Romney thinks about the 47%. I'm unemployed, not looking for a job and able to but don't intend to look for one. I'm getting free stuff from the government, getting taken care of by the government, so I'm good, happy and proud and yes, I don't pay taxes. Hell, I feel like I'm getting paid not to work so in my mind I feel like I'm working. For those of you who are busting your butt, working everyday to make a living, I respect you because I need you. Without you, I would not be where I am. I admitt it, "I didn't build that." I feel like I've got a good deal. Obama, great guy!! Our government, great government!! Our country, great country!!! An oh, I don't have any kids so I don't care much about the future generation...the government will take care of them as long as we keep the democrats in control. And one more thing, the Islamists, all we need to do is keep saying, "I'm sorry." We need to keep apologizing and they'll simmer down. Yeah right!!!!
on September 18,2012 | 02:09PM
mitt_grund wrote:
Nice try, Mitt. Or is it you, Linda? Making like you are one of the 47%ers. Guess you silver spooners just hate the seniors who are collecting Social Security and Medicare, and those on disability retirement. This includes retired seniors in Florida , Hawaii, and other states who generally vote Republican.. They probably don't think "this song is about your" and will vote blindly for you two silver spoon in mouthers. But we will spread the word that you don't care and will do your best to destroy Social Security and Medicare. Don't try the old Trojan horse trickand try to be someone you are not. Everyone knows that you could care less for the 47% who don't pay income taxes, or non-whites, or those not in your high society circle, or those who don't own football teams, or who count football team owners as friends, or whose wives have two Cadillacs at their disposal. And you, Linda, how dare you say you really care! You sure didn't show it when you bungled a billion dollar investment with current budget funds, resulting in a $1.2 billion shortfall, cost the people an additional $40 million for the Superferry by thinking you were above the law, and set education back by your invoking furlough Fridays, so that the effect is still affecting education today in low test scores on national aptitude tests.
on September 20,2012 | 01:06AM
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