Senate Democrats pounced this morning on Mitt Romney's 47% comment, using the Senate floor as a platform to take advantage of what the comment, they say, reveals about the Republican nominee for president.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that Romney's fundraiser comments were a "rare look at the real Mitt Romney," proving that he "doesn't deserve to serve any American as president."
And Reid renewed his unsubstantiated charge that Mitt Romney, who likely makes most of his income through capital gains, may not have paid income tax in some years. Romney has said he paid at least a 13 percent tax rate for the past ten years.
"For all we know Mitt Romney could be one of those who have paid federal income tax," Reid said on the Senate floor. "Thousands of families making more than a million dollars per year pay no federal income tax."
The comment was part of a 30-minute speech riddled with controversial statements that was secretly videotaped and posted online this week. In it, Romney characterized that group of income-tax-free Americans as being "dependent on the government" and feeling "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
This week it was revealed that at a closed-door fundraiser in May, Romney told wealthy supporters that he could not hope to win the votes of the 47 percent of Americans who, he said, do not pay federal income taxes.
"This week we learned Mitt Romney only wants to be president of half the United States," Reid said. "If Mitt Romney were president, he wouldn't waste time worrying about the 47% of Americans who he believes are victims, who Romney believes are unwilling to take personal responsibility," Reid said on the Senate floor. "He'll only worry about how the other half lives, I guess."
Today, Senator Reid used the 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes as a direct comparison to Mitt Romney, saying those people are "not avoiding their tax bills, using Cayman Islands tax shelters or Swiss bank accounts, like Mitt Romney. Millions of the 47% are seniors on Social Security who don't have Bain stock or dividends to fall back on."
He then ticked through the type of "hardworking" people who are considered the 47% - nurses or teachers attending a community college, active duty members of the military, veterans getting an education, and some middle-class families raising children.
These 47 percent, Reid said, deserve "respect" from Romney.
"And these Americans pay a slew of other taxes - state income tax, payroll taxes, property tax, sales tax - but in Mitt Romney's view, they still don't pay enough," Reid said. "If he won't stand up and fight for every American as president, then he doesn't deserve to serve any American as president."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., noted that Romney's defense of his comment, that it was an inelegant way of putting something, isn't really a defense at all.
"I would say he has had enough time to develop an elegant reply, and we haven't heard it," Durbin said. "I think there is more truth than not in what he says when it comes to his point of view of this country."