Former President Bill Clinton said Friday that Mitt Romney's controversial comments about how his "job is not to worry about" the 47 percent of Americans "dependent on government" would increase the burden on the GOP nominee to perform well in the debates.
"I think it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant," Clinton said in an interview with CNN.
Romney admitted earlier this week that his comments, recorded without his knowledge at a closed-door fundraiser, were "not elegantly stated" and that he was "speaking off the cuff," but has defended them as generally representing his views.
"The 47 percent, those that are adults, they do pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay Medicare taxes. They pay state and local taxes," said Clinton. "But all of those people who don't pay ordinary income tax would love to be back paying ordinary income tax. They'd love to have a full-time job instead of a part-time job, or any job at all, or be able to get a pay raise."
Still, Clinton cautioned against believing the comments would provide a knock-out punch to the Republican nominee.
"I still think you have to assume it's going to be a close race, assume it's a hard fight and then fight through it," said Clinton. "But I think the president has the advantage now. We did have a very good convention. He got a good boost out of it."
Clinton was appearing to promote his Clinton Global Initiative conference next week in New York City. Ironically, Mitt Romney is slated to appear at the conference, as is President Obama.