By Amie Parnes and Justin Sink - 09/18/12 04:06 PM EDT
The White House slammed Mitt Romney on Tuesday over a leaked video in which the Republican presidential nominee says 47 percent of the country’s population is “dependent upon government” and believes “they are victims.”
“When you're president of the United States, you're president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
“His message has been about what unites us is far greater than what divides us,” Carney said.
“The way you have to approach the job is with the keen understanding that you're out there fighting for every American,” Carney said. “We need to come together as a country.”
Carney said he hasn't asked Obama about the Romney video and he wouldn't discuss any internal conversations about it. He did say Obama was "aware" of the video.
Carney rebuffed suggestions that the incident was similar to a moment during the 2008 campaign when President Obama said some Midwestern voters "cling to guns or religion.”
The White House spokesman said there was a big difference between what Romney said, and added that the incident “happened four years ago and was discussed in abundance at the time.”
The Romney video, released Monday by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, was surreptitiously recorded at a closed-door fundraiser at the Boca Raton, Fla., home of private equity banker Marc Leder.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney is shown saying. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
The GOP presidential nominee goes on to say his job “is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
At a press conference Monday night, Romney said his comments were “not elegantly stated” and that he was “speaking off the cuff.”
But Romney has stood by the spirit of the comments, saying they were similar to what he has said publicly.
“This is the same message that I give to people, which is that we have a different approach, the president and I, between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams,” Romney said.