Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said he has a "very different view of the world" than the one Mitt Romney expressed at a private fundraiser, a sign of how dangerous the now-famous "47 percent" comment is to a swing-state senator facing reelection.
"I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic, my mother was a school cook," Heller told reporters outside the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon. "I have a very different view of the world and as a United States senator I think I represent everybody. And every vote is important. Every vote is important in this race. I don't write off anything."
Heller said he usually avoids commenting on remarks made by other candidates — but felt the need to weigh in on this one. He joins Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon (R) in actively distancing himself from the comments.
"I just don't want to make it a habit of having to respond to comments that are made by other races not connected to mine. But I thought this one was enough to let people know that I have a very different view of the world, having grown up, as I said, with a father that was an auto mechanic, a mother who was a school cook and five brothers and sisters," he said.
"I can tell you a story of my dad one time, when he got hurt, had back surgery, broke a disc in his back, had back surgery and was out of work for six to eight weeks. I think the government has a responsibility, has a responsibility. One of the responsibilities of the federal government is a safety net. I believe in a safety net, I think that's one of the responsibilities of the federal government."
Heller refused to comment on how he thought Romney's campaign was doing in his home state. When told it sounded like he thought Romney was losing Nevada he pursed his lips and didn't disagree. He also wouldn't weigh in on whether he was worried Romney could drag him down if the GOP nominee loses the state, though he stressed he ran ahead of the GOP ticket in his congressional district in 2008.
"I don't want to answer that question," he said with a laugh when asked if he thought Romney could hurt him.
Heller has led Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) in every nonpartisan public poll of the race this year, but Romney has trailed Obama in most of them. He said he would continue to work to help Romney in the state because "If Governor Romney wins Nevada, I win the state."
When asked if Romney was doing enough to win there, he curtly said "you'll have to ask him."