President Obama responded to the leaked footage of Republican challenger Mitt Romney dismissing nearly half the electorate as "dependent on government" by drawing a distinction between the two candidates.
"One of the things I’ve learned as president is you represent the entire country," he said during a Tuesday appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.
“When I won in 2008, 47% of the American people voted for John McCain,” Obama said. “They didn’t vote for me, and what I said on election night was, 'Even though you didn’t vote for me, I hear your voices, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be your president.'”
Indeed he did say that in his victory speech, adding, "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree."
In the now-infamous footage of Romney addressing a private fundraiser, the Republican candidate said he would never win votes among the 47% of Americans "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
Obama disputed the premise of Romney's remarks.
“There are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims," the president said. "There are not a lot of people who think they’re entitled to something.”
He also rejected comparisons between what Romney said and his own "cling to guns or religion" remarks from 2008. Obama immediately apologized for that line, he said, while Romney has doubled down on it.
“What I think the majority of people, Democrats and Republicans believe, is we’ve got some obligations to each other, and there’s nothing wrong with us giving each other a helping hand," he added.