As Democrats pounced on a Mitt Romney blooper suggesting that nearly half the Americans were "moochers" or dependants, Republicans went into damage control mode, but their presidential contender himself stood by his gaffe.
In the controversial secretly recorded video from a May fund-raiser published by the liberal-leaning news organization Mother Jones, Romney is heard describing "47 percent of the people who will vote (for Obama) no matter what" as being dependent on government.
Commenting on the video, President Barack Obama said Tuesday he didn't know what his Republican opponent was referring to in the video, but suggested that Romney was "writing off a big chunk of the country."
In an interview taped for "The Late Show" on CBS, he said, "One of the things I learned as president is you represent the entire country. If you want to be president, you have to work for everyone."
"What people want to know though is you're not writing off a big chunk of the country because the way our democracy works," said Obama.
Amid the political furore, Romney acknowledged that his remarks were "not elegantly stated" but asserted "This is a message I'm carrying day and day out and will carry over the coming months."
"This is a decision about the course of America, where we're going to head. We've seen the president's policies play out over the last four years," he said on pro-Republican Fox News.
Romney said he was making a political analysis in the remarks, not a broader assessment of Americans who rely on government-funded programmes.
His running mate Paul Ryan too suggested that "He (Romney) was obviously inarticulate in making this point." But the point the Republicans are making is that, under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up.
Asked if he thought Romney regrets the remarks, Ryan told KRNV-TV in Nevada that Romney would have said it differently, "that's for sure."
Meanwhile, two Republican Senate candidates locked in tight election battles in Democrat leaning states sought to distance themselves from Romney's controversial remarks.
"That's not the way I view the world," said Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. "As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in."
"I disagree with Governor Romney's insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care," said Linda McMahon of Connecticut recounting how she and her husband Vince McMahon struggled financially when they were younger.
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