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Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Head, Says The '47 Percent' Are 'Victims' Of Romney Backers

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The head of the AFL-CIO laid into Mitt Romney on Tuesday for comments the GOP presidential nominee made earlier this year at a donor event, in which Romney described nearly half of Americans as wholly dependent upon government.

"Mitt Romney has built a life and a fortune on the losses of others," Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, said at the labor federation's headquarters. "Those so-called victims that he dismisses with ease are victims ... of a system that has been rigged by Mitt Romney's backers so that they would lose."

In a video made public by The Huffington Post and Mother Jones on Monday, Romney told a roomful of donors that most of President Barack Obama's supporters are "dependent on government" and "believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

"There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent on government, who believe that that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them," Romney said.

Romney's off-the-cuff comments drew the fury of progressives and conservatives alike. The former Massachusetts governor appears to have been referencing the roughly 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income tax but pay other types of taxes, including payroll and sales taxes. As New York Times columnist David Brooks noted, in casting such a large swath of working-class America as freeloaders, Romney managed to insult many of the voters who would presumably cast a ballot for him.

Trumka argued that Romney's "moment of candor" revealed a deep disconnect between himself and normal Americans.

"What Mitt Romney said about half the country is really an insult to people who know what it means to work incredibly hard and still sometimes fail to get by," Trumka said. "In a moment of candor, it was very clear he doesn't understand and doesn't care what almost everyone goes through except people like him."

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