Barack Obama rebukes Mitt Romney’s remarks at David Letterman show
President Barack Obama has rebuked Republican candidate Mitt Romney, saying that anyone seeking to be president needs to work for all Americans.
Barack Obama told chat show host David Letterman that Mitt Romney was wrong to describe 47% of Americans as “victims”.
Earlier, Mitt Romney defended his remarks after secretly filmed video of a speech to donors became public.
He told Fox News he knew those “dependent on government” would not vote for him in November’s election.
Mitt Romney also decried the notion of government “redistribution”, calling it an “entirely foreign concept”.
More leaked video emerged on Tuesday, showing Mitt Romney saying Palestinians do not want peace in the Middle East.
In Tuesday’s Fox interview, Mitt Romney stood by his comments about the 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax. He said they support President Barack Obama and would never vote for him. He said his statement was “about the campaign”.
“I’m talking about a perspective of individuals who are not likely to support me,” he said.
“Those that are dependent on government and those that think government’s job is to redistribute, I’m not going to get them,” Mitt Romney said.
Mitt Romney says he expects Barack Obama to receive about half of the vote in the November election because of these voters.
The real problem, he added, was that so many people were not eligible to pay income tax because they had fallen into poverty.
Recent polls indicate that the election is likely to be a close contest, although an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday evening showed that Barack Obama’s approval rate has hit 50% for the first time since March.
In addition, the poll put the president ahead of Mitt Romney by 5% among likely voters polled across the nation. The poll had a margin of error of 3.6%.
On David Letterman’s show, Barack Obama said he told the US on election night in 2008 he would work for everyone, including those who did not vote for them.
“One thing I’ve learnt as president is you represent the entire country,” he said.
“There are not a lot of people out there who think they are victims” or simply entitled to benefits, Barack Obama said.
Barack Obama’s rebuke came at the end of a day in which more clips of Mitt Romney’s fundraising address emerged. In one, Mitt Romney said the Palestinians are “committed to Israel’s destruction”.
“The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace,” he says in the video, adding that “the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”.
But chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters news agency that Mitt Romney was wrong to accuse the Palestinians of not seeking peace.
“Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace,” he said.
In another clip, the former Massachusetts governor is shown discussing Iran’s nuclear programme, and warning that America itself could come under attack.
The first clips released on Monday showed the Republican candidate saying those who did not pay income tax would never vote for him.
“There are 47% who are with him [Barack Obama], who are dependent upon government, who 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,” he said.
Mitt Romney said in the video that his role “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
The video clips provided to Mother Jones are said to have been filmed at a $50,000 per head fundraiser at some point after Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee.
They were made public as the Romney campaign announced a new shift in strategy after several difficult days for the candidate.
Campaign advisers told the US media on Monday that Mitt Romney would speak more specifically about his budget plans and tax policy.
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