Another GOP Senator Distances Himself from Romney 47% Comments
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada became the latest Republican in a tight race of his own to distance himself from Mitt Romney’s caught-on-tape comments writing off, and dismissing, 47% of Americans who will support President Barack Obama “no matter what.”
“I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic; my mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world and as a United States senator I think I represent everybody, and I think every vote is important,” Heller remarked in a hallway off the Senate floor.
“I don’t write off anybody,” he said flatly.
Heller is in a tight re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley, and was quite candid about the link between Romney’s fate and his own.
“At this point I believe that if Mitt Romney wins Nevada, I win Nevada,” said Heller.
Heller noted that he doesn’t “make a habit of responding” to what Romney or others say on the campaign trail but that he felt compelled to speak out about Romney’s comments that Obama voters believe they are victims and the federal government has a responsibility to take care of them.
“I thought this one was enough to let people know that I have a very different view of the world having grown up, as I said, with a father who was an auto mechanic and a mother who was a school cook and five brothers and sisters,” said Heller, who went on to tell a story about his father needing government assistance when he was unable to work because of back surgery.
“[My dad] had back surgery and was out of work for 6 to 8 weeks. I think the government has a responsibility. One of the responsibilities of the federal government is a safety net. I believe in a safety net. I believe that’s one of the responsibilities of the federal government,” said Heller.
A day earlier, two other Republican Senate candidates – Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Linda McMahon of Connecticut– released campaign statements denouncing Romney’s comments. Brown used similar language to Heller.
“That’s not the way I view the world,” Brown said in a Tuesday statement. “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.”
As for Heller, he said he got 30,000 Obama voters in his last race for Senate, and clearly is worried about losing them.
He also sounded a warning CNN heard from other senators in the Capitol hallways – that Romney isn’t spending enough time pressing the flesh in the states that matter – like Nevada.
His advice to Romney was “work hard – every single vote matters.”
When asked if Romney is campaigning enough in his swing state of Nevada, Heller simply, and tellingly, replied “you have to ask him.”
By Dana Bash
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