By Peter Schroeder - 10/17/12 03:02 AM EDT
President Obama closed the second presidential debate by slamming Mitt Romney for his recorded comments that 47 percent of Americans "believe that they are victims" who are dependent on government aid.
With the final answer to the final question, Obama attacked the controversial remarks Romney made during a private fundraiser in May, calling them proof of the GOP nominee's "fundamentally different vision about how we move our country forward."
"I believe Gov. Romney is a good man," Obama said. "But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considers themselves victims or refused personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about," going on to name veterans, students and Social Security recipients, among others.
In the final minutes of the debate, however, Obama pounced.
"I want to fight for them," he said of that 47 percent. "That's what I've been doing for the last four years because if they succeed, I believe this country succeeds."
Given that Obama's comments came during the final answer of the debate, Romney did not have a chance to respond.
But Romney alluded to the issue in his own answer to the final question from an undecided voter, who had asked what misconceptions voters had about each candidate.
"I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future," Romney said.
Romney's team had said earlier in the day that the GOP challenger was ready to respond to challenges over the "47 percent" remarks.
"Of course he wants to be president of all America, all Americans — 100 percent of Americans. And he'll address that tonight should the subject come up," said Eric Fehrnstrom, senior Romney adviser, on Fox News.
Romney himself has described the words he used at the fundraiser as "inelegantly stated," and later as "completely wrong."