By Amie Parnes - 09/18/12 10:28 PM EDT
President Obama on Tuesday lectured Mitt Romney for "writing off a big chunk of the country" in his first remarks about the GOP presidential nominee's controversial statements at a closed-door fundraiser.
"One of the things I learned as president is you represent the entire country," Obama told "Late Night" talk show host David Letterman in a taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on Tuesday. "If you want to be president, you have to work for everyone.
Obama was responding to comments Romney made at a Florida fundraiser in May, when the Republican candidate labeled Obama supporters as "victims" who feel as though they're entitled to government aid.
"All of us make mistakes ... What I think people want to make sure of, though, is you're not writing off a big chunk of the country because the way our democracy works ... This is a big country," Obama said, according to a pool report.
"And people disagree a lot, but one thing I've never tried to do, and I think none of us can do in public office, is suggest that because someone doesn't agree with me, that they're victims or they're unpatriotic."
Obama, appearing on the talk show in a dark blue suit and light blue tie, added that when he won the presidential election in 2008, 47 percent of Americans voted for his then-opponent Sen. John McCainJohn McCainAgainst all odds: It’s Trump Five takeaways from the Indiana primary Overnight Energy: Clinton takes on former coal industry CEO MORE (R-Ariz.).
"They didn't vote for me and what I said on election night was: 'Even though you didn't vote for me, I hear your voices and I'm going to work as hard as I can to be your president.' "
Obama talked about a wide array of topics on the show set to air on Tuesday night. A pool report said Obama laughed when Letterman cracked a Clint Eastwood joke, asking the president if he wanted to say something to the empty chair beside him.
It was a reference to Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention last month in Tampa, Fla., when the Hollywood star held an improvised conversation with an empty chair that represented Obama.