Heather Kristin no longer depends on the government to help her with food and housing, but she did as a child.
Now her "blood is boiling" after watching Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggest that her family's past means they lacked a sense of personal responsibility.
"Without the government helping, I would not be who I am today," said the 38-year-old, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. "I would not be a stable, loving mother of a two-and-a-half year old."
When she was 10, Kristin, her twin sister and their mom were evicted from their New York City apartment after their mother "fell on hard times." She had worked as a maid and a nurse, but "started to unravel" because of what Kristin believes was an undiagnosed mental health problem. For a year, they were homeless, bouncing from shelters, to strangers' apartments, to churches and then back to shelters again. It wasn't until they went on welfare, got food stamps and qualified for an apartment in Hell's Kitchen that things started to turn around.
"After a year of [being homeless] we were falling apart as a family," Kristin said. "Once we had a roof over our head, once we had this government-sponsored housing situation, I felt like we were a family again."
"We never felt entitled, like 'Oh yes, we deserve to be on welfare,' or 'They must pay for us,'" she continued. "The goal was always to better ourselves and to be incredibly grateful for the gifts we were given by strangers, and all of the other community resources, too."
Eventually, the family relocated to Ohio, where Kristin's mother worked scooping ice cream at an amusement park and Kristin worked as a waitress to earn money for college, which she supplemented with federal and private scholarships. She bounced around to a few schools and took her 20s off to pursue acting, but went back to college at 30. Today, she is a freelance writer (who has blogged for HuffPost) and does not rely on government assistance to support her family.
"Romney talked about how people should have personal responsibility. Well, we had tons of personal responsibility," Kristin said. "We knew that if we didn't strive and continue to read books and prepare for college, we would probably repeat our mother's mistakes. We did whatever it took to survive."
Before seeing the video, Kristin didn't have particularly strong feelings about Romney. Now she does.
"This was a huge turning point for me, where I was like, 'Forget it,'" Kristin said. "Because, you know, we were not victims. And if we had been given more resources, like, if my mother had more mental help ... we certainly would've done a lot better. But at least we had housing and food stamps."
"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."