Mitt Romney on Wednesday attempted to explain his controversial “47 percent” comments, saying he may campaign toward specific groups, but would focus as president on the entire nation.
“My campaign is about the 100 percent of America, and I’m concerned about them,” Romney told Univision anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas at Univision’s “Meet the Candidate” forum, co-hosted by Facebook at the University of Miami.
“I know I’m not going to get 100 percent of the vote, and my campaign will focus on those people we can think we can bring in to support me,” he continued. “But this is a campaign about helping people that need help.”
“People in America are going to have a better future if they elect me the next president,” Romney said.
According to News-Press, Romney was responding at a televised forum to questions sparked by his remarks last spring that, as a candidate, “my job is not to worry about” the 47 percent of Americans who don’t earn enough to pay income taxes and are likely to support President Barack Obama.
In a video that was posted online this week, Romney dismissed supporters of President Barack Obama – almost half of U.S. voters – as people who live off government handouts and do not “care for their lives.”
“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,” Romney said in a hidden-cameravideo of his remarks at a private fundraiser earlier this year.
“My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents,” Romney said in remarks convincing donors to write checks for his campaign.
Addressing Romney in Spanish, the Univision hosts peppered him with questions about the video before turning to his reluctance to clarify his immigration policy and to his support for Arizona’s controversial immigration law.
“I’m not in favor of a mass-deportation effort, rounding up 12 million people and taking them out of the country,” he said. “I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and that’s what I mean by ‘self-deportation.'”
Romney tried to paint a rosy picture of his plan for immigration, which he has previously said includes vetoing the proposed Dream Act — popular among Latino voters — and solving the problem of undocumented immigrants by encouraging them to “self-deport,” reports The Huff Post.
“Are you going to deport them or not? Yes or no?” Salinas asked Romney, as translated to English by Univision.
“We’re not going to round up people around the country and deport them, that’s not — I said during my primary campaign, time and again, we’re not going to round up 12 million people … and have them deported. Our system isn’t to deport people.”
After taping his Univision remarks, Romney attended his first public campaign event since Friday, a raucous rally at fairgrounds where he stood before a large blue “Juntos con Romney” banner.
“The president cares about the people of America, I care about the people of America,” Romney said. “But he doesn’t know what it takes to help the people of America and I do. I’ll get them working again.”
The Obama campaign responded by arguing that Hispanic voters have reason not to trust Romney.
“On critical issues, he continued to refuse to answer any of the tough questions or provide any specifics on what he’d do as president,” Obama campaign official Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.
The Republican nominee trails President Barack Obama two to one among Latinos in the United States, according to The Telegraph.
Hispanics comprise the largest minority in the country, and with Romney trailing slightly according to several polls, peeling Latino voters away from Obama is crucial, particularly in battlegrounds like Florida.
“Are you sure you’re not a Hispanic?” Ramos said, as translated by Univision.
“I think for political purposes that might have helped me,” Romney said, laughing.