Campaign about the 100% - Romney
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said yesterday his presidential campaign was about helping the "100 per cent" in the United States as he sought to recover from his disparaging remarks about the half of the country that gets government benefits.
In a fundraising speech in Atlanta and a television interview in Miami, Mr Romney said he would do a better job of helping the poor than President Barack Obama. Advisers said the Republican would step up the pace of his campaigning as the tight presidential contest enters its final seven weeks.
"My campaign is about the 100 per cent in America and I'm concerned about them," Mr Romney said in an interview with the Spanish-language Univision network in Miami as he sought to control the damage from what appeared to be the worst two days of his campaign.
"I'm concerned about the fact that over the past four years life has become harder for Americans. More people have fallen into poverty, more people we just learned have had to go onto food stamps," he added.
Mr Romney wants the November 6th election to be a referendum on Mr Obama's handling of the weak US economy, but self-inflicted wounds have sidetracked him this week. A secretly recorded video that surfaced on Monday suggested he was writing off Obama supporters as people dependent on government with no sense of personal responsibility.
Some 43 per cent of registered voters thought less of Mr Romney after seeing the video, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, while a mostly Republican 26 per cent viewed him more favourably. Independent voters were more likely to say the video lowered their opinion of the candidate.
At the Atlanta fundraiser, Mr Romney said he wanted to spur job creation by encouraging private enterprise.
"The question in this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class. I do, he does," he said, jabbing the podium with his index finger and his voice rising with emotion. "The question is who can help the poor and the middle class. I can, he can't and he's proven it in four years," he said.
Amid criticism Mr Romney had not held enough campaign events, his advisers said he planned to hold more public rallies starting early next week and might sometimes hold up to three a day.
An official said visits to the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida were in the works as part of a stepped-up campaign schedule that reflected the growing intensity of the campaign.
Mr Romney's events in Miami on Wednesday marked his first visit to a swing state since he was in Ohio last Friday in a week dominated by fundraising events.
In his Univision interview, Romney made comments that could be construed as moving toward the centre as he seeks the support of independent voters who may determine the outcome of the election.
He played down his support for "self-deportation" of illegal immigrants and avoided saying whether he would repeal an executive order Mr Obama put in place this year that stopped the deportation of some people in the country illegally.
"I'm not in favour of a deportation, mass deportation effort, rounding up 12 million people and taking them out of the country. I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home, I mean, by self-deportation," he said.
While still opposing gay marriage, he expressed support for domestic partnerships that include hospital visitation rights and "similar types of things being provided to those individuals".