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Mitt Romney: I didn't make '47 percent' comment

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   July 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM   |   Comments

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July 30 (UPI) -- For most Americans, the 2012 presidential election is already a distant memory.

But, perhaps understandably, Mitt Romney is still parsing the moments along the way to his electoral defeat.

In an interview with Dan Balz for Balz's upcoming book "Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America," Romney addressed the now-infamous "47 percent," a moment that is widely considered a turning point in the campaign.

But it seems Romney remembers it a little differently than most of us.

He recalled first hearing that a video had surfaced, in September (the recording was made in May), through an aide.

“As I understood it, and as they described it to me, not having heard it, it was saying, ‘Look, the Democrats have 47 percent, we’ve got 45 percent, my job is to get the people in the middle, and I’ve got to get the people in the middle,’” he said.

“And I thought, ‘Well, that’s a reasonable thing.’ . . . It’s not a topic I talk about in public, but there’s nothing wrong with it. They’ve got a bloc of voters, we’ve got a bloc of voters, I’ve got to get the ones in the middle. And I thought that that would be how it would be perceived -- as a candidate talking about the process of focusing on the people in the middle who can either vote Republican or Democrat. As it turned out, down the road, it became perceived as being something very different.”

When pressed, Romney said he hadn't meant to dismiss a whole group of people as, in the parlance of the election season, "the takers."

"That wasn’t at all what was intended," he said. "That wasn’t what was meant by it. That is the way it was perceived."

But when Balz pushed, reminding Romney he said the 47 percent would never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives," the former candidate outright denied it.

“Actually, I didn’t say that," he said "That’s how it began to be perceived, and so I had to ultimately respond to the perception, because perception is reality.”

While Romney couched the whole thing as a giant misunderstanding, the response to his interview with Balz has been to accuse him of trying to rewrite history.

When his comments were first made public, it was done so first by releasing an unedited clip of part of his remarks, then later a video of the entire question-and-answer session, including his full response in context.

Whether Romney meant well, or meant exactly what he said, it's difficult to argue that he was taken out of context when the context was laid bare for all to examine.

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