It’s too early to tell how Mitt Romney’s taped remarks at a fundraiser will affect voters on Election Day, but Democrats in tough House races are bullish.
“It’s going to help us in every swing district in America,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters Wednesday, saying the Republican nominee’s remark “shows disdain” for nearly half the country.
Polling is scant because the footage — in which Romney told wealthy donors that the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes are “dependent upon government” and refuse to take responsibility for their lives — was only released Monday.
Numerous Democrats in close races capitalized and sought to tie their Republican opponents to Romney’s remarks and paint the GOP as contemptuous of the middle class. Even as the conservative base embraces Romney’s comments, Republicans candidates are keeping their distance.
“As Mitt Romney brazenly writes off half of the people in this country, Congressman Bass needs to make clear whether he supports this view, and explain why he continues to campaign with a presidential candidate who is this out of touch with the American people,” said Democrat Annie Kuster, who’s hoping to unseat Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH).
In a hotly contested race for a vacated Connecticut seat, Republican Andrew Roraback is fending off Democrat Elizabeth Esty’s efforts to associate him with Romney’s remarks.
“Roraback and Romney, share a ticket in the 5th District and a ‘plan’ that would devastate working and middle class families,” Esty spokesman Jeb Fain said in a statement. “Senator Roraback needs to let 5th District voters know whether he also shares Mr. Romney’s views that he shouldn’t worry about them if they’re seniors or veterans, working or middle class.”
Roraback retorted to his home state News Times: “It’s become increasingly clear that Elizabeth Esty wishes she was running against Mitt Romney. But she’s not running against Mitt Romney, she’s running against Andrew Roraback.”
In a close New York election, challenger Mark Murphy is saying that “[Republican Rep. Michael] Grimm and Romney share the same disdain for 47 percent of Americans, and everyone represented by Grimm in Congress should be deeply offended by that.”
Similar claims were made about House Republican candidates by swing-district Democrats Lois Frankel in Florida, John Tierney in Massachusetts, Ed Perlmutter in Colorado, Dan Maffei in New York and John Oceguera in Nevada.
A spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this article.
Conservative firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who is also vulnerable in Nov., took to Fox News the morning after the video was released to distance himself from Romney.
“I think he was a little clumsy in doing this,” he said Tuesday on Fox & Friends. “Mitt Romney probably could have better explained himself.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.