At least two Republican Senate candidates have publicly disagreed with their presidential nominee’s view that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes consider themselves “victims” and are “dependent upon government.”
“That’s not the way I view the world,” Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said, joining a chorus of Democrats who chided Romney’s comments.
“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,” former World Wrestling Executive Linda McMahon (R) said in a statement for her Connecticut Senate bid.
Earlier this week, the liberal magazine Mother Jones released a surreptitiously recorded video of Romney speaking to donors during a May fundraiser in Florida. The GOP nominee’s casual comments reverberated throughout the political world and down the Congressional ballot.
On Tuesday afternoon, Romney stood by his characterization in an interview with Fox News.
“I know some believe that government should take from some to give to the others,” Romney told Fox’s Neil Cavuto. “I think that’s an entirely foreign concept. I think America was built on the principle of government caring for those in need but getting out of the way and letting people pursue their dreams.”
Democrats predictably pounced on Romney’s words.
Former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio), who is seeking to return to the House, quickly tried to tie his opponent, Rep. Bill Johnson (R), to Romney’s remarks. Wilson faces an uphill bid to unseat Johnson in one of the Buckeye State’s least affluent districts.
“I’m shocked and appalled that’s what the governor said in his speech,” Wilson said in a brief phone interview Tuesday. “I will use it to show that Romney and Johnson are not in tune with this working man’s area in southeast Ohio.”
A Johnson aide did not make the Congressman available for a phone interview before deadline.
A handful of other Democratic nominees in competitive races — Rep. Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Dan Maffei and Mark Murphy in New York, John Oceguera in Nevada, Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire and Lois Frankel in Florida — made similar attacks on their Republican opponents.
It remains to be seen whether Romney’s comments will affect the presidential race and downballot races or have staying power. According to most national polls, the White House race remains extremely close.
But that didn’t stop House Democrats from using the latest incident to bring in cash. In a fundraising email, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee alleged that American Crossroads, a conservative third-party group advised by Karl Rove, shifted cash from the presidential race in light of the Romney campaign’s missteps.
“Rove isn’t stupid,” a DCCC fundraising email read. “He sees Romney’s floundering campaign. Now, he’s shifting cash into House races so Republicans will still have one card to play against President Obama.”
A Crossroads spokesman said the group had not reallocated any funds to House races recently.