Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) slammed Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney for his charge that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes and think that they are victims.
"Mitt Romney has failed the character test," Sen. Udall said during a press conference in Sunken Gardens Park, Fox31 reported.
Udall added: "You really know the character of an individual by what they say in private. And, yes, this is an election about the economy and jobs. But, it's also an election about character and vision."
Udall also took to Twitter to voice more criticism of Romney:
Romney's comments to wealthy donors back in May were aimed at explaining why many people won't vote for him, but they broadened into an indictment of the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes -- although they do pay federal payroll and many other taxes.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in the secretly recorded remarks. "There are 47 percent who are with [President Barack Obama], who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
"My job is not to worry about those people," he continued. "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Other leading Democrats have attacked Romney for his comments including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who hammered Romney today suggesting that Romney himself might not have paid federal income taxes in some years and that he only wants to represent some of the country. "For all we know, Mitt Romney could be one of those who has paid no federal income tax," Reid said in a renewal of his claim that Romney may have paid no tax in some years.
But it's not just Democrats that find the comments controversial. Downticket, Romney's fellow Republicans -- specifically those that find themselves in tight races -- are finding his remarks to be toxic. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is in a tight reelection battle against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), had emerged as the favorite of late, owing to Berkley getting caught up in an ethics investigation. But this donor party video has forced Heller to put some distance between himself and Romney, with Heller insisting that he has a “very different view of the world” than his party's standard-bearer. Rosalind S. Helderman of the Washington Post captures Heller's remarks:
Keep in mind, I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world. And as United States Senator, I think I represent everyone, and every vote’s important. Every vote’s important in this race. I don’t write off anybody.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Connecticut Senate candiate Linda McMahon (R) also distanced themselves Tuesday from Romney's remarks, The Hill reports.
Since the remarks leaked, Romney has proceed to defend the essence of the statement that, for some, has called into question the viability of his candidacy. "The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class? I do. He does," Romney said about the statements and President Obama. "The question is who can help the poor and the middle class? I can! He can’t!"
"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."