Democrats running for the House and Senate are pouncing on Mitt Romney's remarks that nearly half of all Americans think they are "victims" entitled to government help and that he doesn't worry about "those people."
"Mitt Romney and Dean Heller are reading from the same script when it comes to struggling middle-class families," said Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, who is seeking to unseat Mr. Heller in Nevada's competitive Senate race.
"It's a troubling and shocking position to take, especially for a man running for president of the United States," said Annie Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat hoping to oust Republican Rep. Charles F. Bass in one of the country's most competitive House races. "Congressman Bass needs to make clear whether he supports this view and explain why he continues to campaign with a presidential candidate who is this out of touch with the American people."
A few Republicans immediately distanced themselves, particularly those in tight races.
Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, quickly disavowed Mr. Romney's remarks as her opponent, Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, sought to tie her to Mr. Romney, releasing a statement talking about "the real McMahon-Romney agenda."
"I disagree with Gov. Romney's insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care," said Ms. McMahon, who has narrowed the race to succeed retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman. "I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be."
Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown, facing a tough re-election fight against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, also quickly backed away from Mr. Romney: "That's not the way I view the world," he said.
Mr. Romney set up a ripple down the ballot when a secretly recorded video surfaced Monday of his remarks at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 17.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Mr. Romney says in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"My job is not to worry about those people," Mr. Romney added. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Mr. Romney has neither disavowed nor apologized for his remarks, instead casting his comment as evidence of a fundamental difference with President Obama the economy. The federal government, he said, should not "take from some to give to the others."
But the pile-on reflex had begun, bolstering Mr. Obama's case that Mr. Romney does not represent a middle class struggling amid high unemployment and a sluggish economy.
Democratic candidates took their lead from Mr. Obama, who declared Tuesday night that the occupant of the Oval Office must "work for everyone, not just for some."
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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