Image: Barack Obama
Al Behrman  /  AP
President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, at Seasongood Pavilion in Cincinnati.
By
NBC News
updated 9/18/2012 3:31:57 PM ET 2012-09-18T19:31:57

Being president involves representing all Americans and not just one's supporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday in response to Mitt Romney's secretly-recorded comments calling 47 percent of Americans "dependent" on government.

Asked about President Barack Obama’s reaction to Romney’s surreptitiously recorded comments that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are victims” and are “dependent upon government” and therefore will vote for the president (not Romney), Carney said Obama didn't view Americans who receive government support as victims.

Rather than criticize the Republican presidential nominee as pointedly as the Obama re-election campaign did, Carney said Obama believes that “when you're president of the United States, you are president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you.” How the Romney video leaked: For Carters, it was personal

Alluding to Romney’s remarks, Carney continued: “the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims; that students aren't responsible or victims. He--certainly doesn't think that middle class families are paying too little in taxes.”

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The liberal magazine Mother Jones published videos Monday in which Romney offers a blunt assessment of the political breakdown in America.

Leaked video is the latest hit for Romney

“My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney says in the video, recorded at a private fundraiser in May.

Carney was also asked how Romney’s comments differ from ones Obama made as a candidate in 2008, when, during a secretly-recorded private fundraiser, he said that some people “cling to guns and religion” during difficult economic times -- a remark that was panned at the time and is still applied to Obama by critics looking to show that he is out of touch.

“I think that happened four years ago and was discussed in abundance at the time,” Carney said before insisting that Obama’s comments were actually meant to be inclusive, not exclusive.

Under increasing scrutiny, Romney campaign turns to details

“What the president said four years ago, what he said eight years ago, what he says today and what he said ever since he took office here is that he's fighting for every American, that he firmly believes that as a nation we're all in this together,” Carney said.

The White House spokesman also responded to Romney’s statement that the Israeli/Palestinian issue would “remain an unsolved problem.”

Video: Romney on comments secretly recorded at fundraiser

“The president believes and is committed to the principle that a two-state solution is the right solution for Middle East peace. That is a basic tenet that has been pursued by Democratic and Republican administrations prior to President Obama,” Carney said.

Responding to Carney's comments during the briefing, Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement, "In the Obama economy, American families have suffered from chronic unemployment, increased poverty and falling incomes. At every turn, as the economic pain Americans feel increases, the President has proposed failed policies that have led to more and more government, and greater and greater debt. Mitt Romney's plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs and move Americans off of government dependency and into greater prosperity.”

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Video: Romney campaign suffers another setback

  1. Closed captioning of: Romney campaign suffers another setback

    >> todd.

    >>> mitt romney defends the caught on camera remarks is there any way to contain the fallout over his calling half the country dependent obama voters in these things have legs, just ask the president.

    >>> plus with over 50 coalition troops killed by uniformed afghans this year alone, nato has taken the remarkable step. we have suspended joint operations . we are live in kabul.

    >>> and are donors being fooled by political phishing scams, how some websites are being used to divert money into their own covers it is tuesday, september 18 , 2012 this is the daily run down, i'm chuck todd . 49 dies go my first reads of the morning.

    >>> rough ten days for mitt romney , the president gets a notable convention bounce a bad jobs report seemed to have no illinompact on the electorate. romney 's response to libya and egypt, widely band. infighting in the the romney campaign goes public. now this a newly leaked video obtained by " mother jones " and later nbc news, shows romney at a florida fund-raiser in may. nbc news has learned it was secretly recorded at a $50,000 a plate fund-raiser at the boca raton home of private equity mogul mark later. take a look.

    >> the obama campaign immediate pounced. "it is shocking that a candidate for president of the united states would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy dancers half american people view themselves as victims entitled to handout and are unwilling to take personal responsibility to their lives it is hard to serve as president for all americans when you disdainfully written you have half the nation." the romney campaign put out this innocuous statement from communications director . " mitt romney wants to help all americans struggling in the obama economy. as the gaffe go of nor made clear all year are he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government , including the record number of people who are on food stamps , nearly one in six americans in poverty and the 23 million americans who are struggling to find work. pir's plan control 12y5i9s million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves americans off of government dependency and into jobs." late night for the east coast , not so on the west coast , so little notice, there wasn't time for any news organization to take the event live. he said he was trying to offer donors his 50% plus one strategy.

    >> at a fundraiser, you have people saying, governor, how are you doing going to win this? i respond, well, the president has his group, i have my group, i want to keep my team strong and motivated and i want to get those people in the middle. that's something which fund-raising people who are parting with their moneys are very interested in knowing, can you win or not. that's what this is -- this was address.

    >> he did stand by his remarks, repeating these facts.

    >> as i point out, i recognize among those that pay no tax, approximately 47% of americans , i'm not likely to be highly successful with the message of lowering taxes, likeless wise, those reliant on government are not attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government.

    >> where does the 47% number come from in the tax policy center , which found that 46.4% of households pay no federal income tax in 2011 , but most households did pay payroll taxes . of the 18% who paid neither income taxes or payroll taxes , neither than half were elderly and a third of tax credits went to low-income families with children and the working poor . many of the seniors who benefit from the current tax policy are actually likely romney voters. the republican share of vote among white seniors has increased in each of the last five elections to a whopping 58% in 2008 and we have seen them in the same high numbers in 2012 . according to the tax foundation , eight of the top ten states with the lowest income tax liability, check them out, are so-called red states . the only exceptions, florida, a battleground state , and new mexico, a lean, shall we say democratic state , some people think could be a battle ground. a couple things happen to candidates at fund-raisers. candidates play to the room, they shorthand things, say things in ways they would never say in public. we remember when then-candidate obama got caught on mic making this remark in 2008 .

    >> the president is actually still paying the price for that comment, which republicans are still using against him.

    >> hey, i'm a catholic deer hunter. i'm happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion.

    >> and there's some democrats who think we wouldn't even be talking about pennsylvania as potentially in play if it weren't for the bitter remark or that the entire midwest wouldn't be in play you the president or a democratic candidate that didn't make those remarks would be in much better shape in 2012 . former president bill clinton got grief after a houston fund-raiser, by the way, 1995 , when he said, "probably there are people in this room still mad at me at that budget because you think i raised your taxes too much. it might surprise you to know that i think i raised them too much too." clearly, romney felt corned and that he couldn't retract his remarks without angering copper is vat it was. we have already seen some of the right applaud the comments. eric erickson tweeted, dammit, i'm just now seeing these secret romney videos. we need that guy on the campaign trail. it comes at a time when romney was trying to quiet angst about his faultering campaign. yesterday in an interview with telemundo's jose diaz balance larity.

    >> my senior campaign people work extremely well together, i would well them h my campaign is doing well and frankly, these process stories take away from what is concern to the american people .

    >> so, no changes in your campaign?

    >> no, i've got a good team.

    >> the fact of the matter is timingselfing in politics. remember the president made those remarks as a candidate in march and age the timing right now on this is very bad for the romney campaign, because had owe? what made those bitter comments in september, do you think we have won pennsylvania by double digits? this morning, "the new york times'" david brooks has a brutal a, brutal critique of romney in the "new york times." "personally, i think he is -- he is a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not, some sort of cartoonish government heart, but it scarcely matters, he is running a depressingly inept presidential campaign . mr. romney , your entitle. reform ideas are essential but wlent incompetence stoop?" that is right, a guy the center right columnist from the "new york times" who yes, still sometimes is favorable to the president but seems to be -- seems to want to at least fall in like with the romney /ryan ticket and comments seem to be turning him off. one final point, canned dats publicly campaign as if they want on to be 65% president, what you do the first time you run for president, reagan in '80, clinton in '92, bush in 2000 . they were all making the case that they were going to be that different president, that they were going to get 65% of the public on their side, even if they never were going to get 65% of the public to vote for them. these comments paint a portrait of a candidate already settled on being a 51% president, given into the polarization, one of the president's key you will haver in ran bills, why are we so divide now when you promise we wouldn't be so div snide romney is simply selling a people lar rised divided climate if he gets elected, too, that's the pessimistic part ofthy think he is going to be paying for for a longer period of time.

    >>> protests have broken out in indonesia, india and thailand. in lebanon, the leader of hezbollah made a rare public appearance to rally hundreds of supporters who gathered for a peaceful rally in bay rule back in libya where this all began, the burned out consul slat sealed off and security has been stepped up, amid the investigation into the deaths of ambassador chris stevens and three other americans . but the admin station is having trouble with a key question, why wasn't there more security before last tuesday's attack? the u.s. ambassador , the u.n., susan rice , "meet the press," there was a strong security presence there.

    >> we had security personnel in benghazi,tragically, two were our security personnel.

    >> they directly contradict rice saying the two victims she referenced, glen doherty and tyrone woods , were part paof a security detail at the consul l.a. they say ambassador stevens had one security officer around a local militia. what is more, libyan officials say there were warning signs that the consulate might be targeted, including attacks on a british diplomat and red cross in benghazi. last tuesday's assault, they are saying, was not preplanned.

    >> it sin explicable and inexcusable that our personnel were not better protected.

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