WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats running for the House and Senate are pouncing on Mitt Romney's remarks that nearly half of all Americans think they are "victims" entitled to government help and that he doesn't worry about "those people."
"Mitt Romney and Dean Heller are reading from the same script when it comes to struggling middle-class families," said Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is seeking to unseat Heller in Nevada's competitive Senate race.
"It's a troubling and shocking position to take, especially for a man running for president of the United States," said Annie Kuster, a New Hampshire Democrat hoping to oust Republican Rep. Charlie Bass in one of the country's most competitive House races. "Congressman Bass needs to make clear whether he supports this view and explain why he continues to campaign with a presidential candidate who is this out of touch with the American people."
A few Republicans immediately distanced themselves, particularly those in tight races.
Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, quickly disavowed Romney's remarks as her opponent, Rep. Chris Murphy, sought to tie her to Romney, releasing a statement talking about "the real McMahon-Romney agenda."
"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," said McMahon, who has narrowed the race to succeed retiring independent Joe Lieberman. "I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be."
Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, facing a tough reelection fight against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, also quickly backed away from Romney: "That's not the way I view the world," he said.
Romney sent a ripple down-ballot when a secretly recorded video surfaced Monday of his remarks at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. on May 17.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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."
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