Mitt Romney released his first direct-to-camera ad of the campaign on Wednesday, a minute-long, no-frills message aimed at convincing voters that the Republican presidential nominee cares about low- and middle-income Americans and will improve their lives.
“President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them,” Romney says in the ad.
The spot appears to be a response to criticism of secretly taped remarks Romney delivered at a high-dollar fund-raiser, where he said the roughly 47 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes are people “who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”
Video of the May fund-raiser was leaked to Mother Jones magazine, which posted clips online last week.
Romney told donors that people who don’t pay federal income taxes “will vote for the president no matter what,” adding that “my job is not to worry about those people.”
Romney has stood by his assertion that Obama is fostering a culture of entitlement, but has sought to clarify his statement that “my job is not to worry about” people who do not pay federal income taxes, declaring last Thursday that “my campaign is about the 100 percent in America, and I’m concerned about them.”
Romney explained that he made his remark in the context of a discussion about campaign strategy—that he meant his job is not to worry about getting the votes of people who are unlikely to support him.
Romney’s new ad repeats his claim to care about every American while also hitting Obama on a series of economic measures.
“Too many Americans are struggling to find work in today’s economy,” Romney says in the ad. “Too many of those who are working are living paycheck to paycheck, trying to make falling incomes meet rising prices for food and gas. More Americans are living in poverty than when President Obama took office, and 15 million more are on food stamps.”
“We shouldn’t measure compassion by how many people are on welfare,” Romney adds. “We should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good-paying job.”
In comments at the taped fund-raiser, Romney suggested people who depend on government support are content with handouts and unmotivated to “get a good-paying job.”
“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith called the new Romney ad “just more of the evasiveness that his campaign has become known for.”
“He pays lip service to working Americans but doesn’t name a single policy to strengthen the middle class,” Smith said.Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.