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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

McCain: Most Americans won't pay attention to Mitt Romney's '47 percent' comments



Sen. John McCain knows a thing or two about the hazards of making a poorly worded statment at the peak of a campaign.

The 2008 presidential candidate -- who declared "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" -- in Tampa on Tuesday addressed Mitt Romney's secretly recorded comments about the "47 percent of voters" who will support Obama "due to a dependency on government."

"I think what Gov. Romney was saying is that, what a lot of people have said, is that sometimes it's difficult to get certain segments of the population to support his candidacy," he said. "I think that he has ... said that he obviously wants the votes of every American, and I totally agree with that.

"And you know, there was a time in 2008 when President Obama said that people were clinging to guns and Bibles. I think occasionally we've got to put our comments in context."

In his speech to students, he argued his "fundamentals" comment didn't doom his campaign as much as the September 2008 stock market did. He referenced those remarks (and stood by them) in a quick interview with Buzz. We asked him about Romney's string of controversial comments.

"I can remember in 2008 I said, 'The fundamentals of our economy are strong.' The tidal wave of criticism ... I made several comments which people then said was terrible statements," he said. "The fundamentals of our economy were strong. When the financial crisis happened we stopped our campaign, we went to Washington. Obama did the same thing. Who got criticized? Who got hammered? John McCain.

"So life isnt fair," he said. "It's still a very close race, and I still think that there's a lot of people who have not made up their minds, and I still think they have a very good chance of winning. You will always hear voices out there who could do it better. That's one of the reasons why they're out there and not inside because they're not very good."

He said Romney's comment won't damage his chances.

"I think that people will pay attention to the whole campaign, to jobs and the economy," he said. "I don't think that people will believe that, as Gov. Romney made very clear, that we will exclude a single voter."

Buzz asked McCain about reports of Romney's campaign in disarray.

"You always hear those reports. They are obviously things that most Americans pay absolutely no attention to. There's also always the insidethe beltway pundits whose knowledge is far superior to everyone else ... and so I don't pay much attention to it."

"I see every campaign has ups and downs. The one that wins ran a perfect campaign and the one that lost ran a terrible campaign. That's always the judgment."

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 4:31pm]


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