White House hits Romney, fundraises, on ’47%’ video

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

President Barack Obama treated Mitt Romney's 'victim' remarks at a secretly recorded fundraiser with wealthy donors like an unhoped-for gift weeks before Election Day. The Democrat's campaign is raising money off the video, while the White House declared that Obama is "president of all the people"—not just his supporters.

Obama's campaign Twitter account overflowed with references to Romney's unscripted but caught-on-camera remarks, including now-infamous comments that his job was "not to worry" about the president's die-hard supporters, whom he described as having a "victim" mentality and a dependence on government handouts.

"We can't afford a President who says 'my job is not to worry about' 47% of the American people," said one tweet written by Obama campaign staff. The message included a map of the United States with the legend: "INSTRUCTIONS cut out the 47% of the country that doesn't matter."

"Pitch in $5 if you support the candidate in this race who's fighting for all Americans—President Obama," said another.

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing that Obama was aware of Romney's remarks but declined to say whether the president had seen the actual video (an unlikely prospect). But Carney did not pass up a chance to knock the Republican standard-bearer.

"When you're president of the United States you are president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you" he said. "He deeply believes that we're in this together, all of us.

"The way you have to approach the job is with a keen understanding that you're out there fighting for every American," Carney said.

Carney also took aim at Romney's comments about how 47 percent of households pay no federal income taxes and claim that many of the president's supporters have a "victim" mentality.

"I can tell you that the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims, that students are irresponsible or victims. He certainly doesn't think that middle-class families are paying too little in taxes," Carney said.

He sidestepped reporters' questions about Obama's comments, during the 2008 campaign, that Americans "bitter" about their lot in life "cling" to religion and gun rights.

"These are comments that happened four years ago. There has been plenty of ink spilled and plenty of things said about them four years ago," he said.

When one reporter reminded the former Time Magazine journalist of his own piece criticizing those comments in 2008, Carney replied: "I don't remember that column. I honestly don't."

Carney also took issue with Romney's comments on the video about the Middle East peace process, remarks that suggested the former Massachusetts governor viewed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as largely intractable and something to be pushed to the back burner.

"That it's a difficult problem I think we can all agree on," Carney said. "That it is a challenge that previous presidents of both parties have embraced because they believe it's right for the country, they believe it's right for American interests, for the interests of Israelis, the interests of Palestinians, is also true.

"And it is simply the wrong approach to say we can't do anything about it, so we'll just kick it down the field. That's not leadership. That's the opposite of leadership," he said. (The peace process has mostly stalled, and Obama has not appeared especially inclined to spend political capital on reviving it.)