Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Scott Brown Latest GOPer to Turn on Mitt's "47 Percent" Line

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 4:06 PM EDT
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

One of the first Democrats to knock Mitt Romney for his charge that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent" on the federal government was Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who told the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "Romney just wrote off half the people in Massachusetts and half the people in America as deadbeats." Now Warren's Republican opponent, Sen. Scott Brown, has followed suit. Here's the statement he sent to The Hill on Tuesday:

"That's not the way I view the world. As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in. Too many people today who want to work are being forced into public assistance for lack of jobs."

Brown's not the only Republican to back away from the remarks of the party's presidential nominee. Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who is running for Senate in Connecticut, said in a statement Tuesday that "I disagree with Gov. Romney's insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care."

What makes Brown comments particularly noteworthy, though, is that he and Romney are both being advised by the same guy—GOP strategist Eric Fehrnstrom. (This isn't the first time Fehrstrom's candidates have been put in an awkward situation.)

One candidate who's not running from Romney's statements: Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin. So that ought to help.

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Obama Web Vid Hits Romney on "47 Percent" Remarks

| Tue Sep. 18, 2012 11:49 AM EDT

That was quick. On Monday, the Obama campaign condemned Mitt Romney's now-infamous "47 percent" speech and capped it off with a fundraising email. By Tuesday morning, the Obama team had turned it into a web video:

It's a classic of rapid-response at its most rapid—the video appears to have been filmed in Chicago's Millenium Park, literally across the street from Obama's national headquarters. And it could just be the beginning. The Washington Post reports that Obama advisers are considering turning the clip into a television ad.

Romney Reacts to 47 Percent Video, Stands By Remarks

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 5:52 PM EDT

On Monday, my colleague David Corn published exclusive video of remarks Mitt Romney made at a closed-door fundraiser for big-money donors, in which the GOP presidential nominee declared that 47 percent of Americans—that is, those who support President Obama—are "dependent upon government" and "believe that they are victims." (And, according to Romney, Obama backers don't pay income taxes either.) Now, the Obama campaign is looking to turn those statements into a major campaign issue. Here's the statement from campaign manager Jim Messina that was emailed to reporters on Monday afternoon:

"It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives. It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

It was also blasted out to Obama's 19 million Twitter followers. For Romney, this may be only the beginning of his problems: more clips from this private fundraiser are coming soon.

Update: And here's the Romney campaign's statement, from spokeswoman Gail Gitcho:

Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.

Update II, 9/17, 10:23 p.m.: In a rare and hastily scheduled press conference in Orange County on Monday night, Romney stood by his remarks. "This is the same message I give to people," Romney said of his dig at the 47 percent. His only failing, he said, was in the delivery. "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way," Romney said. "I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question and, I'm sure I can say it more clearly"

Romney added, "I hope the person who has the video would put out the full video."

Watch:

See the full remarks below:

Mitt Romney Apologizes for America

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 12:50 PM EDT

Mitt Romney has a very simple foreign policy vision: Don't apologize for America. It's right there on the cover of his book. That's why, when the US Embassy in Cairo attempted to preempt an attack on its compound by condemning a virulently anti-Islam film, Romney was quick to not-apologize. Instead, he accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with the embassy attackers by speaking out against bigotry: "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

Here's what he told ABC News in an interview on Friday, though, when asked about the film:

Well, I haven't seen the film. I don't intend to see it. I you know, I think it's dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people would't do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it's not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.

Notice anything? It's pretty much the exact same sentiment expressed by the US Embassy in Cairo—the one that prompted Romney to accuse the Obama administration of sympathizing with extremists: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims–as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Like Romney, the Embassy went on to explain (in a subsequent tweet) that an offensive low-budget film was no justification for attacks.

There's nothing wrong with Romney's condemnation of bigotry. The only mystery is why he ever thought there was.

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