By Ginger Gibson
A handful of prominent Republicans criticized Mitt Romney for his disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama's "gifts" to core constituencies, saying that it was the wrong message to send voters as the party tries to rebuild itself after a bruising defeat.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio - a prominent Romney backer during the campaign and a possible 2016 candidate - distanced himself from the remarks on Thursday, calling them "an analysis to donors."
Rubio said that as a party, "our mission should not be to deny government benefits to people who need them," but the GOP should work to ensure "less people need government benefits."
The chorus of pushback from Republican officials grew louder Thursday regarding Romney's remarks on a donor conference call Wednesday. The former GOP presidential nominee told donors that Obama had won re-election because of "gifts" to "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people," including loan programs for students and free contraceptives for women in Obama's health care bill.
In Las Vegas to attend the Republican Governors Association conference, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the comments "inappropriate."