Can Romney's campaign get back on track? (+video)
Following the release of a video from one of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's fundraisers, some commentators question his campaign strategy, while others defend him. Polls show the presidential race is still close.
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The video controversy overshadowed an effort by Romney's campaign to offer more economic policy specifics and air new television ads to address rising worries from Republicans about the direction of his campaign.Skip to next paragraph
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'Still focused on economy'
But Romney adviser Kevin Madden said the firestorm over the video would not distract from the campaign's economic focus.
"I still think this is an election that's focused on the economy, it's focused on the direction of the country, and I think the voters right now who have yet to make up their mind are still viewing it through the lens of that," Madden said.
A short version of the video was spotted on YouTube in August by James Carter IV, the grandson of the former Democratic president. The self-styled opposition researcher tracked down and convinced the person who recorded the video to hand over the full version to David Corn, a journalist with Mother Jones.
"James, this is extraordinary. Congratulations! Papa," Jimmy Carter told his grandson in an email on Tuesday, according to NBC News.
Some Republicans rallied to Romney's defense. Former White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, a Romney adviser, said the Obama campaign was trying to wage class warfare. Donald Trump urged Romney not to apologize and told NBC's "Today" show that "Republicans have to get tougher or they are going to lose this campaign."
The video comes seven weeks before the election and just more than two weeks before the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, which may be Romney's best chance to change the direction of the White House race.
Romney regained some ground on Obama in a Reuters/Ipsos online poll on Tuesday, trailing by 4 percentage points, 47 percent to 43 percent. Romney had trailed by 5 points on Monday. The national Real Clear Politics average of polls gave Obama a 2.9-point lead over Romney.
Romney's comments about the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay taxes and are dependent on government were not a new theme for Republicans, and it was a largely accurate figure.
About 46 percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax in 2011, according to the bipartisan Tax Policy Center, although almost two-thirds of those paid an employment tax to support the Social Security and Medicare programs.
In most cases, it is elderly and poor households that do not pay federal income tax, the center said. About half of those who pay no tax are allowed to do so because their incomes are too low.