Secretly recorded Mitt Romney comments from a May fundraiser about a dependent "47 percent" have created a firestorm throughout the country, including right here in sunny South Florida.
At the private dinner at the Boca home of millionaire playboy Marc Leder, Romney called 47 percent of Americans "victims, who believe that the government has the responsibility to care for them."
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said. "All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, 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... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Though he refused to disavow his comments after the they made news, the Republican presidential candidate insisted during a forum taped for Univision Wednesday that "my campaign is about the 100 percent."
But in the most recent polling, the damage appears to have made an impact. In the election-deciding swing states of Ohio, Virginia, and Florida -- states political pundits conjuncture are necessary for Romney to eek the increasingly fleeting prospect of an Electoral College win -- incumbent Barack Obama is currently leading beyond the margin of error.
While Romney's so-called "47 percent" includes a wide swath of Americans, it also includes many students we met at Miami-Dade College. As Romney campaigned in Miami, we asked students what they thought of Romney's comments:
"Even people who are dependent on the government, they're not 100 percent; they're trying to make a living for themselves. And, people who rely on welfare aren't 100 percent like, 'Oh, I'm just going to sit on my butt all day and do nothing' -- there are some... who are trying to find a life for themselves. I think he was wrong for saying that."
"Personally, I don't feel dependent on the government... I feel the strain on the economy, the rising inflation without the rise in wages makes it difficult for a college student like me to get by without financial aid and things like that. I personally don't use financial aid because I have a scholarship, but I feel like people don't have a choice now because of the tough times."
Adorned with "Vote 2012" pins, Wilson made it clear how she felt about Romney: "He doesn't care about the people in the middle class, he just cares about himself. And, I honestly don't care what he says, I'm just voting for Obama. I don't like him, he's not being fair."
Ryan van der Eijk
In response to Romney's charge that several Americans think that "they are victims", this self-identified 47-percenter rebutted: "I don't agree with that because I am an American citizen, ergo, the government, in a sense, does have a responsibility to care for me."
November dismissed Romney's personal responsibility charge: "That's not fair because he doesn't know what's 47 percent of America is going through to know exactly why they can't get food, housing, or health assistance. He doesn't know people's personal problems with their background and situations like that to make such a broad statement."
"I believe that people actually are hard workers, and there are some people that actually fall into circumstances," Parrales said. "And, if they do so, then it's not really all their fault either. Some of them are actually handicapped and actually can't work for themselves. They try their best, and it's really hard sometimes not to depend on the government."
When asked if he is a victim, Cook responds, "I'm not a victim because I'm not lazy ... it's our responsibility to take care for ourselves. Government can't do everything for us."
"I do take personal responsibility for my life because I'm me, I work for a living, I pay my own bills. I do take personal responsibility for my life."
On Romney's point of Americans not being personally accountable and using federal assistance, Martinez explained, "No, that's not true. Because, you know, with the recession, my dad got laid off, he didn't get fired, and it wasn't because he's too old, it's because he got laid-off. So what else was he supposed to do?"