ATLANTA - A fiery Mitt Romney addressed supporters here today with a new attack line, saying it is not about who cares about the poor and the middle class, but who can help them.
"The question of this campaign is not who cares about the poor and the middle class," said Romney during a fundraising event at an Atlanta hotel.
"I do. He does," Romney continued, a reference to himself and to President Obama.
"The question is who can help the poor and the middle class," he said. "I can. He can't."
Romney's remarks come as his campaign seeks to shift the conversation away from the leaked fundraiser videos that caught Romney suggesting that 47 percent of Americans consider themselves to be victims and are too dependent on government. Critics have pounced on the video as an example of Romney's being out-of-touch with struggling Americans.
Romney has not backed away from the comments he made at the fundraiser, saying it's a message he will continue to carry forth, turning it into a talking point on the campaign trail.
"This is ultimately a question about direction for the country," Romney said in the aftermath of the video release earlier this week. "Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits, or do you believe instead in a free enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams? I believe the latter will help more people get good jobs."
Vowing also to make his message clearer as the week goes on, Romney demonstrated today how he may transform his remarks in the leaked video into an argument in support of his election.
"This is how America works," said Romney. "It does not work by a government saying, Become dependent on government. Become dependent upon redistribution. That will kill the American entrepreneurship that's lifted our economy over the years."
"He really believes in what I'll call a government-centered society," Romney said. "I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others, then we'll all be better off. It's known as redistribution. It's never been a characteristic of America. There's a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said, yes, he believes in redistribution. I don't. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others, but to create wealth for all of us."