WH: Obama fights for every American, not just "47 percent"

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left and U.S. President Barack Obama. Getty Images

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney
Getty Images

(CBS News) In response to Mitt Romney's remarks that his job is "not to worry" about the 47 percent of Americans that supposedly support President Obama, the White House responded that the president, by contrast, is concerned about all Americans.

Mr. Obama "is out there fighting for every American regardless of whether or not they support him politically," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday. He said that the president's policies have sometimes earned him criticism from either the left or the right "precisely because" politics doesn't play into his decision making.

"He's guided by what he thinks is best for the country," Carney said. "On the stuff that matters to Americans' day-to-day lives, we're a lot more united than we sometimes perceive her in Washington."

Carney's remarks came in response to the release of a video from a private fundraising event earlier this year where Romney described Mr. Obama's supporters as people "dependent on the government" who "believe that they are victims."

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is heard saying in the video. "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 health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That, that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."

Romney goes on to say that "these are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect." He says his job "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Carney said Tuesday, "Setting aside what Gov. Romney thinks, I can tell you the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims, that students aren't responsible or [are] victims."

Romney's remarks have drawn comparisons to the remarks Mr. Obama made at a 2008 San Francisco fundraiser, where he said of people from small towns, "It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion."

Carney rejected the comparison, saying, "Then-Senator Obama never said that he did not worry about or would not worry about 47 percent of the population."

Mr. Obama did go on to say at that 2008 fundraiser that one can find "Obama enthusiasts" in those small towns, among "people of every background... The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing."

The liberal magazine Mother Jones, which first obtained the video of Romney's remarks, is reportedly releasing the full video later Tuesday, which could provide more context for his comments.

Tuesday morning, Mother Jones released a second clip, which showed Romney saying "there's just no way" the Palestinians and Israelis can find peace in the current environment.

"[S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can," he said. "You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem...and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it."

Carney said that Romney's remarks amount to "the opposite of leadership."

"It is simply the wrong approach to say we can do anything about this, so let's kick it down the field," he said. "Ihe president has been working on this since the day he took office. Ultimately peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, a negotiated peace ... is in the interests of the Israelis and the Palestinians and the United States of America."

Comments