A GOP Senate candidate in a solidly red state is distancing himself from Mitt Romney's controversial comments that "47 percent" of the American public is "dependent on government," joining several other Republicans in down-ballot races who are running away from their presidential nominee.
Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is running against former Democratic state attorney general Heidi Heitkamp to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad in a race that continues to be close. When asked whether he agreed with Romney's characterization of nearly half the country, Berg said "absolutely not."
"The American way is you probably start at a zero tax rate and you work yourself up," he said, according to the Washington Post. "I mean, that’s where I come from. I just think it's unfortunate how that came out. I haven't talked to him personally about that. But from my perspective, we need to help people up. We need to lift them up, help them have the opportunity to succeed,” Berg said.
Berg joins a host of other GOP Senate candidates who have said they disagreed with Romney's "47 percent" remarks: Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), as well as George Allen in Virginia, Linda Lingle in Hawaii and Linda McMahon in Connecticut.
Some Republican House candidates running for reelection also have voiced concerns about the comments.
"I disagree with his comment," Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) said, according to the Washington Post. "My own view is that every American, whether they're taking more than they're giving, wants to be in the other position and will do everything to do that. And it should be our goal to do that. The only way we're going to do that is to get this economy turned around."
Mark Meadows, a GOP candidate running in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, on Wednesday said during a television debate: "It might come as a surprise, but Mitt Romney didn't call me before he made those comments and ask for my advice."
"I'm concerned about all 750,000 people" in 11th District, he added. "I am here to represent the people of this district."