Donald Trump said Tuesday that Mitt Romney should "not apologize" for describing nearly half of all Americans as people "dependent on government" who are unable to take "personal responsibility for their lives."
The billionaire business magnate added that the presidential nominee had "probably [said] what he means.”
“He cannot apologize. What he said is probably what he means and, he did say [it was] inartfully stated. The fact is he cannot apologize, he is going for those independents; he won’t get the votes of a lot of people he’s discussing, and if you’re not going to get the votes, let’s go on with it, but do not apologize," Trump added.
Trump's comments defending the Republican presidential nominee have come at a time when such support is proving scarce.
Earlier this year, Romney had told a private gathering of wealthy campaign donors that supporters of President Barack Obama will vote for the president “no matter what.” His words -- now immortalized in a video that was surreptitiously recorded during a closed-door gathering of about 30 major donors earlier this year -- has triggered an onslaught of criticism from both liberals and conservatives.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in one clip from the meeting. "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," Romney added.
Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, was quick to lambast Romney's comments, saying that it would be "hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation."
"It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives," Messina said in a statement previously obtained by The Huffington Post.
Conservative pundit Bill Kristol also denounced Romney's comments, calling them "arrogant and stupid." In a blog post for the Weekly Standard, Kristol joked that the former governor should consider stepping down, giving way to the "Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve!"
NBC's Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, said Tuesday that Romney was reeling from “one of the worst weeks for any presidential candidate in a general election that any of us can remember.”
Scarborough, who also appeared on "Today," said that the presidential candidate "seems too insulated by wealth and by life experience," the Washington Post notes.
But Romney is not without vocal supporters.
Republicans like Donald Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus have jumped to Romney's defense, the Houston Chronicle notes.
Romney has not apologized for his comments about the "47 percent." During a brief news conference Monday evening, Romney said his comments were "not elegantly stated" and had been "spoken off the cuff." Nonetheless, he did not disavow his comments and noted that Obama's approach is "attractive to people who are not paying taxes," the Associated Press reports.