Discuss as:

White House: Being president means representing 'all people'

During an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, President Obama said it's necessary to "work for everybody" and not just for some, a reference to Mitt Romney's statements about the '47 percent' made during a fundraiser. NBC's Brian Williams reports.


Being president involves representing all Americans and not just one's supporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday in response to Mitt Romney's secretly-recorded comments calling 47 percent of Americans "dependent" on government.

Asked about President Barack Obama’s reaction to Romney’s surreptitiously recorded comments that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are victims” and are “dependent upon government” and therefore will vote for the president (not Romney), Carney said Obama didn't view Americans who receive government support as victims.

Rather than criticize the Republican presidential nominee as pointedly as the Obama re-election campaign did, Carney said Obama believes that “when you're president of the United States, you are president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you.”

Alluding to Romney’s remarks, Carney continued: “the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims; that students aren't responsible or victims. He--certainly doesn't think that middle class families are paying too little in taxes.”

The liberal magazine Mother Jones published videos Monday in which Romney offers a blunt assessment of the political breakdown in America.

“My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney says in the video, recorded at a private fundraiser in May.

Carney was also asked how Romney’s comments differ from ones Obama made as a candidate in 2008, when, during a secretly-recorded private fundraiser, he said that some people “cling to guns and religion” during difficult economic times -- a remark that was panned at the time and is still applied to Obama by critics looking to show that he is out of touch.

“I think that happened four years ago and was discussed in abundance at the time,” Carney said before insisting that Obama’s comments were actually meant to be inclusive, not exclusive.

“What the president said four years ago, what he said eight years ago, what he says today and what he said ever since he took office here is that he's fighting for every American, that he firmly believes that as a nation we're all in this together,” Carney said.

The White House spokesman also responded to Romney’s statement that the Israeli/Palestinian issue would “remain an unsolved problem.”

“The president believes and is committed to the principle that a two-state solution is the right solution for Middle East peace. That is a basic tenet that has been pursued by Democratic and Republican administrations prior to President Obama,” Carney said.

Responding to Carney's comments during the briefing, Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement, "In the Obama economy, American families have suffered from chronic unemployment, increased poverty and falling incomes.  At every turn, as the economic pain Americans feel increases, the President has proposed failed policies that have led to more and more government, and greater and greater debt. Mitt Romney's plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs and move Americans off of government dependency and into greater prosperity.”