Sen. Scott Brown distances himself from Romney's comments

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) came out in opposition to Mitt Romney's controversial remarks on the "47 percent."

Brown, who has been distancing himself from elements of the Republican Party, joins GOP Senate candidate in Connecticut Linda McMahon in coming out against the statements.

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"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," he said in an email to The Hill.

Brown said that the large volume of Americans receiving public assistance and the growth in the food stamp program are part of the reasons he's running for Senate, as Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren's policies would lead to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

"Elizabeth Warren's job-killing policies will force even more people onto public assistance," he said.

Warren responded to the comments to the Washington Post, but didn't frame them in terms of the Senate race, like Brown did. Instead, she said the comments illuminated the choice for voters in November.

"It's a party that says, 'I've got mine and the rest of you are on your own,' versus those who say, 'We're all in this together,'" she said. "There's a clear choice in this election, between those who believe that to build an economy, the rich and powerful should get richer and more powerful, with tax cuts for the wealthiest and deregulation, while everyone else is left to pick up the pieces."

It's in Brown's best interest to come out in opposition to Romney, who faced a 33-percentage-point deficit on President Obama in the most recent poll of Massachusetts voters. He needs to prove to voters in the deep-blue state that he can serve as a centrist, rather than in lockstep with the Republican Party. Brown remains a vulnerable incumbent, with a slate of new polls out over the past two days showing Warren ahead of the senator by various margins.

McMahon faces that same challenge running in Connecticut, where Obama leads Romney by 7 percentage points in the last poll, and where he won in 2008.

Although the Obama campaign has hammered Romney on the comments, few other Republican candidates have come out in opposition to them, indicating this remains a delicate issue within the party and GOP leaders might still be taking time to decide how to move forward with it.

Romney drew fire from Democrats for commenting, at a fundraiser packed with wealthy donors, that nearly half of Americans will vote for President Obama no matter what, and that those "47 percent" of Americans "are dependent upon government ... believe they are victims," and believe the government is responsible for them, adding "my job is not to worry about those people."

Video of the remarks was posted on Mother Jones' website on Monday and has gone viral.

The GOP presidential nominee scrambled to clarify his remarks during an impromptu press conference Monday night, explaining that his position was "not elegantly stated" and that he was indeed concerned with all Americans.

— This story was updated at 5:16 p.m.