Atwater defends Romney, but says he should’ve been ‘on-game’by John Kennedy | September 18th, 2012
Mitt Romney’s closed-door comments in Boca Raton about 47 percent of Americans not paying taxes and being “dependent on government,” were defended by a top Florida supporter Tuesday — although Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater also implied his party’s presidential nominee should have known better.
“Any one of us who believes there’s not a camera on or a recording device or a cell phone, you’re living yesterday,” said Atwater, part of Florida Catholics for Romney’s leadership team. “I think everyone has to be on-game, on-message all the time.”
Atwater said he hadn’t reviewed the tape of Romney’s comments, recorded surreptiously in May at a fundraiser at hedge fund manager Marc Leder’s home and made public this week by Mother Jones magazine. But based on what was reported, Atwater said at least some of Romney’s comments about which voters he could persuade — and which others were unreachable — made sense.
“It seems to me what he was expressing was ‘my job,”‘ Atwater said. “My job is to talk to those individuals I have a chance of persuading. My job is to talk to those folks who may still be open-minded to what I am talking about. If that was the intent of what he was saying, I think all of us have heard candidates speak in…that kind of language.”
Atwater added, “It may not been as artfully expressed…but every candidate has done this.”
But Atwater, a former Senate President from North Palm Beach, distanced himself from Romney’s assessment that almost half the American population is mooching off government.
“We have initiatives that we vote on here in this Legislature every year for people who on any given day are particularly challenged and facing an obstacle like Medicaid. But Medicaid rolls rotate. In two years, six-months, someone is new on and somebody is off. They got their footing again.”