Obama Says Romney Is Wrong for ‘Writing Off’ 47% of U.S. Voters

President Barack Obama, reacting for the first time to secretly-recorded remarks by Republican challenger Mitt Romney to wealthy backers, said Americans don’t want a president “writing off a big chunk of the country.”

“It’s a big country and people disagree a lot,” Obama said in an interview taped for broadcast tonight on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman.” No one in public office should “suggest that because somebody doesn’t agree with me that they’re ‘victims’ or they’re unpatriotic.”

The video of Romney speaking to campaign donors at a private fundraisder in May in Boca Raton, Florida, was published yesterday on the website of Mother Jones magazine. The Republican nominee is seen explaining to the attendees that Obama’s support came from the 47 percent of Americans who see themselves as “victims,” dependent on government. “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said.

Slideshow: A Gallery ofPolitical Gaffes

Obama, who four years ago was caught on camera at a fundraiser making unflattering remarks about rural Pennsylvania voters, told Letterman that candidates make mistakes. “What I think people want to make sure of, though, is that you’re not writing off a big chunk of the country,” he said.

Romney, in an appearance on Fox News today, said his comments were in the context of his competition with Obama. “We were, of course, talking about a campaign, and about how he’s going to get half the vote and I’m going to get half the vote,” Romney said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Talev in Washington at mtalev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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