Mitt Romney is trying to explain why he gave up on winning more than 47 percent of the nation. And he's also trying to explain why he described them as government dependents.
Senator John McCain is stumping for Mitt Romney in Tampa, we asked him to respond to what Romney said about nearly half the population.
"I think Governor Romney cleared that up. He made it very obvious, and stated his desire to have every vote," McCain said.
And that is what Romney said after the secret recording went public.
"Of course I want to help all Americans, all Americans [to] have a bright and prosperous future," he said in a press conference late Monday night.
Romney also pointed out that he was discussing campaign strategy in his video, not policy.
"It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I'm speaking off the cuff," Romney explained.
Romney said his point was that his tax cut plan does not connect with 47 percent who don't pay income taxes. He did not apologize for his remarks, and McCain suggested he shouldn't.
"I remember when President Obama said people cling to guns and the Bible. He never apologized for that," McCain said.
McCain was referring to four years ago, when then-candidate Obama was secretly recorded at one of his fundraisers. Obama said voters in rural Pennsylvania respond to frustration by becoming bitter, clinging to guns and religion.
McCain called him on it, though he slightly flubbed his comeback.
"You know, Senator Obama has said some pretty nasty things about western Pennsylvania lately and you know what? I couldn't agree with him more," McCain said in a campaign appearance at the time.
But Obama made his controversial remarks in the spring of 2008, some six months before the general election. The Romney recording has surfaced with fewer than 50 days to go before the election.
And the Obama campaign has already made a video with people reacting to it.
"I actually felt sick to my stomach," one woman says in the video.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor criticized Romney's remarks in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
"It's hard to be president of all the people when you write off half of them," Castor said. "An overwhelmingly majority of Romney's 47 percent are: 1. working families, 2. are older retired neighbors, 3. students, and 4. people with disabilities. The vast majority of these Americans are working today and they pay a significant percentage of their income in taxes, whether they are federal payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes or other state and local taxes. They often pay an even higher share of their income in these taxes than wealthier families, like Mitt Romney's."
But with so many voters locked in, the whole episode may not end up moving the needle much in the polls.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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