From Obama and the Road Ahead: The Rolling Stone Interview
Where were you when you first saw Romney's speech in Boca Raton about the 47 percent? What was your first reaction?
We were out campaigning. I don't remember which state we were in – probably Ohio. [Laughs] Since we've been there so often, the odds are, it was probably Ohio.
It took a while before we actually saw the full transcript of what he said. I think it was pretty surprising. It's an indication of a story that Republicans have been telling themselves for a while, at least a sizable portion – that somehow, half the country consider themselves victims and want to be dependent on government. Obviously, he was wrong on the facts, since the overwhelming majority of that 47 percent are either folks that are working every day and paying all kinds of taxes but just don't earn enough money to pay income tax; or are senior citizens who worked all their lives and did everything right so they could count on some sense of security as they got older; or they are veterans who have sacrificed for our country, or soldiers who are sacrificing as we speak on behalf of our country. But that sense that folks who have contributed to this country but are at the lower ends of the income scale are somehow looking for government to do something for them, or feel some sense of entitlement, is just fundamentally wrong. It doesn't jive with what I see as I travel across the country every day.
Are there people who, both at the top and the bottom, aren't pulling their weight and are looking for a special deal? Sure. But as was pointed out when this controversy erupted, there are a whole bunch of millionaires who aren't paying any income tax, as well as people at the lower end of the income spectrum who may be taking advantage of the safety net that we've put in place. We should hold everybody accountable who's not doing their fair share. That's what the American people believe: They don't like bailouts, they don't like handouts, but they do understand that we have to have a government that ensures that if somebody is working hard and carrying out their responsibilities, that they can succeed and that they can give the prospects of a better life to their kids and their grandkids.