Obama rebukes Romney on remarks
US president Barack Obama has rebuked Mitt Romney after comments his Republican rival made in videotaped speech.
Mr Obama declared that the occupant of the White House must “work for everyone, not just for some”, in response to Mr Romney’s statement that as a candidate, he does not worry about the 47 per cent of the country that pays no income taxes.
Mr Romney neither disavowed nor apologised for his remarks, which included an observation that nearly half of the country believe they are victims and entitled to a range of government support.
Instead, Mr Romney cast his comment as evidence of a fundamental difference with Mr Obama over the economy, adding the US government should not “take from some to give to the others”.
Speaking during an appearance on the David Letterman show, Mr Obama responded: “One thing I’ve learned as president is that you represent the entire country.”
As for Mr Romney’s statement about the 47 per cent, he said, “There are not a lot of people out there who think they are victims” or simply entitled.
The most recent controversy involving Mr Romney was ignited by the emergence of a videotape, made last May, in which he told donors at a fundraiser that 47 per cent of Americans pay no income taxes.
They “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them . . . believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement”. He said: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
As the rivals sparred with seven weeks remaining in a close race for the White House, two Republican Senate candidates publicly disavowed Mr Romney’s remarks, caught on videotape at a fundraiser.
Mr Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, said the Republican presidential nominee was “obviously inarticulate” in trying to make his point. Mr Ryan told an interviewer: “The point we’re trying to make here is, under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up.”
Top Republicans in Congress declined through aides to offer their reaction to Mr Romney’s remarks however - just as they generally refrained from commenting a week ago when he issued a statement that inaccurately accused the Obama administration of giving comfort to demonstrators after they breached the US embassy in Cairo.
The sluggish economy and lingering high unemployment are by far the overriding issues of the election, and Mr Romney’s case for the presidency is based on his claim that his success as a businessman has left him the skills needed to create jobs in a nation where unemployment is 8.1 per cent.
Mr Obama and the Democrats have tried to counter by depicting the president’s challenger as a multi-millionaire who has some of his wealth invested in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere overseas, and is out of touch with the needs of middle class Americans.