ATLANTA Mitt Romney pushed back Wednesday against claims that hes written off half the country and said he, not President Barack Obama, can better improve the lot of poor Americans.
The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and middle class. I do, he does, Romney said, his voice rising. The question is who can help the poor and middle class. I can, he cant, he couldnt in four years. The crowd of nearly 1,000, each of whom had paid at least $1,000, roared its approval.
In a 23-minute speech at a fundraiser at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, the Republican presidential hopeful several times appeared to answer criticisms that arose from a video shot in May. The video, taken at a Florida fundraiser, was shot secretly and released this week by Mother Jones magazine.
In the video, Romney said 47 percent of Americans pay no net income taxes, support Obama and believe that they are victims, who believe the 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. Ill never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Wednesday in Atlanta, Romney referenced the downtrodden often, to highlight the perceived failures of the Obama economy and to show empathy for their plight.
This is going to be an election of a very stark choice, Romney said. The question is going to be who is better equipped and has better direction in mind to help the people of America who so badly need help. We have a lot of people in trouble.
Romney also made reference to a video of Obama that is now making the rounds. The Obama video, from 1998, shows the then-Illinois state senator saying he approves of some redistribution. Romney and Republicans have said Obama meant redistributing wealth, which they say is akin to socialism.
He really believes in what Ill call a government-centered society, Romney said. There are some people who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others well all be better off. Its called redistribution. A tape came out a couple days ago of the president saying yes, he believes in redistribution. I dont.
Obamas campaign said his fuller remarks show he meant redistributing government funds among agencies. Obama said in the video that the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources to help the working poor.
If elected, Romney said, he would fix Americas economy by doubling federal permits to drill for oil and gas, repeal the health care overhaul Obama championed and replace it with something else, stand up to China on trade issues and slash the federal deficit.