Obama surrogate: Romney views people outside 'his social class’ as parasites

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a co-chairman to President Obama's campaign, blasted Republican challenger Mitt Romney Tuesday over comments surreptitiously recorded at a private fundraiser.

Earlier in the morning, Romney adviser Bay Buchanan dismissed criticism of the video — in which Romney describes 47 percent of Americans as "dependent upon government" and believing "they are victims" — as a "bump in the road," a comment that Strickland seized on.

"Well, it wasn’t a bump in the road, it was a deep chasm, in my judgment," Strickland told CNN's "Starting Point." "And quite frankly, what the governor said is very significant because it reveals something about his value system. For him to speak with such disdain about so many Americans, and he wants to be our president? 

"Some of those people that he was talking about ... are soldiers that are risking their lives at this very moment in Afghanistan. Some of those people he was talking about in such a disdainful way are older people. How can this man who wants to be president talk in such a disdainful way about half of the American people, and then hope to pull this country together and to be our president?"'

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Strickland described Romney as "very sly" and accused him of viewing Americans who do not pay federal income taxes as parasites.

"Many people don’t pay income taxes because they’re so poor they don’t make enough money to be able to pay income taxes," Strickland said. "But they pay payroll taxes, they pay state taxes, they pay excise taxes. This man apparently feels that if you’re not a part of his social class or you don’t have his economic status, that somehow you’re a parasite.”

The video, released Monday by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, was recorded 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 said at the fundraiser. "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 said his "job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In a press conference Monday night, Romney admitted his comments were "not elegantly stated" and that he was "speaking off the cuff."

"I'm sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that," Romney said.

But the Republican nominee also contended that the spirit of his remarks was consistent with what he had been saying 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.

And, in a statement later Tuesday morning, the Romney campaign blasted Strickland's criticism as "outrageous."

“Gov. Ted Strickland’s outrageous comments won’t change the fact that President Obama’s record concerning the middle class and jobs is simply deplorable. At the end of the day, voters will dismiss ridiculous rhetoric from the president’s surrogates and support the candidate who will move this nation in the right direction.”


This post was updated at 10:45 a.m.