At 28 years old, Skyler Robinson lives with his grandparents and struggles to make ends meet between a part-time cashier job at Target that pays $400 a month and his $100-a-month food stamp allotment.
He finds himself so consumed with looking for full-time work that he has no time to enroll in classes to finish his associate's degree. He doesn't have enough money for school anyway -- loans wouldn't cover the entire cost -- and he finds himself unqualified for many jobs because he doesn't have a degree.
So when Robinson saw the video released this week of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying that 47 percent of the country depends on government handouts, Robinson said he was aghast. Romney also said in the video that most people who will vote for President Barack Obama are "dependent on government" and "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
"Yeah, you work hard and get a payoff, but there's only so much you can do to ensure your survival," Robinson said. "I think he is ignoring the fact that you can't prepare for every circumstance in life, especially in a recession that affects everyone. When you're saying half of America is a lot beyond repair, what does that mean for a potential president?"
As somebody who grew up attending a nondenominational Protestant church every Sunday and today considers himself an unaffliated "theist," Robinson said he is baffled by politicians who publicly profess their faith do not seem to "abide by the general rule of religious teaching about people helping each other."
"It's really odd thing that most people who identify as Republican also identify as religious people, but they are often opposed to things like government assistance or anything that would be set out to help others," said Robinson, who does not earn enough to pay income tax, but does pay payroll taxes. (In Romney's leaked speech, he hinted at a popular but overly simplified talking point that 47 percent of Americans do not pay taxes.)
Robinson, who lives in Walnut, in Southern California, has been going between part-time work, unemployment and attending school for a decade. He has three certificates in business management and international business, and his goal is to eventually own his own publishing company. But right now, after the 40-minute daily commute to and from work that sometimes requires him to take up to four buses, and the 16-to-20 hours behind the register each week, his time is committed to sending resumes to potential employers. He's looking for anything, but has an eye toward being an assistant or secretary in an office.
He wants most to get back on his feet and survive on his own. If he had a chance to speak with Romney, Robinson -- who said he is voting for Obama -- knows what he would say.
"It comes from a place of somebody who has never been in a situation of desperation, someone who has never faced homelessness or poverty," Robinson said. "It lacks experience or critical thinking that people who are on government assistance have the assumption that they like being on it and what to be on it for the rest of their lives, rather than looking at it as people who want to improve their lives."
Earlier on HuffPost:
"That's not the way I view the world. As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in. Too many people today who want to work are being forced into public assistance for lack of jobs," Scott said in an email to <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/250157-sen-scott-brown-denounces-romney-comments" target="_hplink">The Hill</a>.
"He was obviously inarticulate in making this point," Ryan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/paul-ryan-mitt-romney-video_n_1895403.html" target="_hplink">said</a> during an interview with a Nevada television station.
"This could be the opportunity for Romney, and for that campaign, to finally take the gloves off and take the fear off and just start explaining conservatism, start explaining liberty to people and what it means," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/rush-limbaugh-mitt-romney_n_1893882.html" target="_hplink">Limbaugh said</a> Tuesday. "And explain that they don't need to be in that 47 percent. There's no reason for them, for everybody to be -- essentially having given up on their future in this country. There's no reason for it. This is, to me, such an opportunity to espouse conservatism."
"Mitt Romney probably could have better explained himself. I think he was a little clumsy in doing this," <a href="http://thehill.com/video/house/249975-rep-allen-west-romney-a-little-clumsy-with-47-percent-comment" target="_hplink">West said</a> on Fox News.
"Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I'd put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney's comment is a country-club fantasy. It's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/brooks-thurston-howell-romney.html?ref=davidbrooks" target="_hplink">Brooks wrote</a>. "He's running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?"
"It remains important for the country that Romney wins in November (unless he chooses to step down and we get the Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve!). But that shouldn't blind us to the fact that Romney's comments, like those of Obama four years ago, are stupid and arrogant," <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/note-romney-s-arrogant-and-stupid-remarks_652548.html" target="_hplink">Kristol wrote</a>.
"He has to not apologize, because we've seen enough apologizing already, and he cannot apologize," <a href="http://thehill.com/video/campaign/249993-trump-romney-cannot-apologize-for-inartful-comments-at-fundraiser" target="_hplink">Trump said</a> on NBC News. "What he said is probably what he means." Trump also said that Romney's words were "inartfully stated."
"The Romney campaign should double down on what he said. They should own it. The trouble for the left and media (but I repeat myself) is that most Americans agree with Mitt Romney. Most Americans consider themselves part of the 53% and it is not a winning proposition for Barack Obama to convince Americans they are less than they think they are when most Americans already recognize he has made them less than they were," <a href="http://www.redstate.com/2012/09/17/treat-the-press-as-enemy-collaborators/" target="_hplink">Erickson wrote</a> in a blog post on RedState.com.
"[Romney] believes that every American has got to have skin in the game...he doesn't want what the president wants," <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/09/christie-romney-wants-to-empower-people-135893.html" target="_hplink">Christie said</a> on Fox News, adding that Romney wants to "empower individuals...and that's what he's really talking about."
"The idea that you're declaring, 'Well, the race is over. Mitt Romney doesn't care about people,'" <a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/laura-ingraham-fired-up-over-romneys-47-tape-its-ridiculous-this-is-getting-airtime/" target="_hplink">Ingraham said </a>on Fox News. "Meanwhile, you have a president whose policies have undermined the 47 percent. ... I'm very pumped up about this. I think it's ridiculous that people are seizing on it and that we're even giving all that much airtime to it, frankly."
"I disagree with Governor Romney's insinuation that 47% of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care. I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be. People today are struggling because the government has failed to keep America competitive, failed to support job creators, and failed to get our economy back on track," <a href="http://www.lindaforsenate2012.com/news/press-releases/2012/09/18/linda-mcmahon-response-to-mitt-romneys-remarks/" target="_hplink">McMahon said</a> in a statement.
"To read many of the reactions on Twitter, you'd think Mother Jones had just found video of Mitt Romney strangling a hooker with her own pantyhose," <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/322394/quick-thoughts-freeloaderdammerung-jonah-goldberg" target="_hplink">Goldberg wrote</a>. "Indeed, many people understand what Romney is getting at here, even if he's saying it badly."