CAMDEN, N.J. -- Sandra Johnson pays no federal income tax and relies on a monthly Social Security disability check and food stamps to make ends meet.
But she bristled at comments by Mitt Romney -- secretly filmed at a fundraiser and leaked to the media this week -- calling people like her members of an entitlement-addicted underclass who will vote for President Barack Obama "no matter what" to keep government benefits flowing their way.
Johnson, 62, noted that the her government assistance comes only after a lifetime of steady labor.
"It's not the government's money. It's my money," she said. "I worked and I earned it. I paid in enough years to get these benefits."
She called Romney's remarks, which she heard on the morning news, unfair and demeaning.
"As big as his head seems to be, his words are very small," Johnson said. "He is trying to divide the people. I thought we were supposed to be equal."
Johnson began her working life as a cashier at a dry cleaning shop at age 16. She spent 25 years as a preschool teacher at a private school in Camden, then ran her own daycare business for 10 years. Two years ago, she applied for federal disability benefits after developing arthritis in her knees and suffering a relapse of breast cancer that required a double mastectomy.
Today, Johnson works about 20 hours a week at non-profit that helps older teenagers and young adults who have dropped out of high school to obtain a high school diploma, earning about $500 per month after payroll tax deductions. That income is supplemented by a $990 monthly disability check. She also receives food stamps worth $16 per month.
"I consider myself a working person," Johnson said. "I am still working, helping these young people get where they need to go."
Johnson supported Obama in 2008 and said she planned to vote for him again, but not because she expects anything in return. "In 2008, I was not getting anything," she said. "I was working and paying in."
She watched Romney's convention speech and called him an effective speaker. But now she feels sure the speech was not intended for people of modest means like herself.
"He's eliminated us altogether," she said. "He doesn't need our votes."