WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitt Romney was this week seeking to get his campaign back on track 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.
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 conceded 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 acknowledged the remarks might dominate news coverage for days but disputed 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.”
After the video was 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.
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 Tuesday 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 was likely to start running new ads using Romney's words from the fundraising video.