FIRST TO CNN: Another GOP senator distances himself from Romney 47% comments
September 19th, 2012
01:41 PM ET
11 years ago

FIRST TO CNN: Another GOP senator distances himself from Romney 47% comments

Washington (CNN) – Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada became the latest Republican in a tight race of his own to distance himself from Mitt Romney's caught-on-tape comments writing off, and dismissing, 47% of Americans who will support President Barack Obama "no matter what."

"I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic; my mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world and as a United States senator I think I represent everybody, and I think every vote is important," Heller remarked in a hallway off the Senate floor.

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"I don't write off anybody," he said flatly.

Heller is in a tight re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley, and was quite candid about the link between Romney's fate and his own.

"At this point I believe that if Mitt Romney wins Nevada, I win Nevada," said Heller.

Heller noted that he doesn't "make a habit of responding" to what Romney or others say on the campaign trail but that he felt compelled to speak out about Romney's comments that Obama voters believe they are victims and the federal government has a responsibility to take care of them.

"I thought this one was enough to let people know that I have a very different view of the world having grown up, as I said, with a father who was an auto mechanic and a mother who was a school cook and five brothers and sisters," said Heller, who went on to tell a story about his father needing government assistance when he was unable to work because of back surgery.

"[My dad] had back surgery and was out of work for 6 to 8 weeks. I think the government has a responsibility. One of the responsibilities of the federal government is a safety net. I believe in a safety net. I believe that's one of the responsibilities of the federal government," said Heller.

A day earlier, two other Republican Senate candidates – Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Linda McMahon of Connecticut– released campaign statements denouncing Romney's comments. Brown used similar language to Heller.

"That's not the way I view the world," Brown said in a Tuesday statement. "As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in."

As for Heller, he said he got 30,000 Obama voters in his last race for Senate, and clearly is worried about losing them.

He also sounded a warning CNN heard from other senators in the Capitol hallways – that Romney isn't spending enough time pressing the flesh in the states that matter – like Nevada.

His advice to Romney was "work hard – every single vote matters."

When asked if Romney is campaigning enough in his swing state of Nevada, Heller simply, and tellingly, replied "you have to ask him."

Also see:

– Eastwood: If they were 'dumb enough to ask me…'

– In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace in Israel

– Obama camp wastes no time highlighting Romney tapes

– Hatch might 'die before his term' ends, opponent charges

– Biden on Romney tape: 'words speak for themselves'

Filed under: 2012 • Dean Heller • Mitt Romney
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. ja

    why romney is their man nominated, maybe the gop should cvet potenial canidates despite their off shore bank accounts, the spoken word is power, todd akien, corporate welfare is ok

    September 19, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. michael yeboah


    September 19, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. bb

    What happened to republican unity?

    September 19, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  4. TheVoice2

    Mitt Phony is toast, his motto is "make me President now, I'll give you details later"

    And he has clearly stated he is only interested in being President for 52% of the country. True colors from the rich phony.

    September 19, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Woman In California

    Well, well, isn't that sweet?

    Willard is a sick man and IF by some chance he were to win the presidency, Mr. Heller would get "the treatment" from Willard-but since I know and Mr. Heller knows he's NOT, Heller is just trying to save his job, which I hope goes to the Democratic challenger as Willard is FINISHED, like it or not.

    September 19, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Gurgyl

    Dude, GOP is dead. True.
    PS: mitt and Paul are defunct....

    September 19, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |

    Republicans, you would have been better off nominating Michelle Bachmann. At least we know she's crazy and won't flip flop on that.

    September 19, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Jesus

    Unity happens under a strong leader. Old school republicans know their party is being wrecked but are too scared/powerless to do anything about it. Look at the past and current election! I am starting to think W was better than Romney

    Try being Independent – these two parties are hopeless

    September 19, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. v_mag

    Yeah, he wants some distance from Rob-money now. But when Mitch "The Twitch" McConnell called on him to support filibusters that shut down jobs bills and any other beneficial legislation, this guy fell right in line with the rest of the Repugnant obstructionists. Now he wants us to forget what his party did. Don't forget, Nevada.

    September 19, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Donkey Party

    Rats fleeing the yacht club. Snark snark!!

    September 19, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Donkey Party

    Jesus – Based on your teachings, you're a Democrat!

    September 19, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. ST

    Run one run all. Romney's remarks has touched the nerves of many.

    September 19, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney said what he meant because he's been saying it all his life, we're just hearing about it now.

    September 19, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Jan


    September 19, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    Obama has consistantly polled 47%
    Apparently CNN and the O-media team have just noticed the rest of Obama's 47%., around them.

    September 19, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. CBR

    The Senator is correct. Good for him for speaking out. Most of the GOP will not do so because they will not go against the party. Even those who are more moderate will only venture an opinion once in awhile. There are those who can retaliate in a way that causes huge problems for the politicos who do not follow the party line.

    September 19, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. rob

    Since you CNN readers don't get any other news except the DNC talking points, here is some news you won't hear because its not on those talking points:

    "I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. "

    The Dems have been twisting into pretzels to deflect any blame for the attacks in Libya but the information is coming out little by little and not from our "Objective Media" and certainly not from CNN.

    Information is out there if you look for it.

    September 19, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. jane

    I live in Nevada and believe me, Dean Heller is only trying to cover his own ass; he's as much of a right wing, Wall Street owned stooge as Romney. And his tv ads in the current Senate race are a clinic in nasty, cynical outright lies...

    September 19, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Al-NY,NY

    by tomorrow, this clown will be frothing at the mouth in his praise and accolades for the etch-a-sketch man. "Hello. This is Senator Heller" "Hello Dean, this is Rush Limbaugh. I heard you today saying you didn't agree with our candidate..." everyone knows the rest

    September 19, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Car elevator first floor, Exits to the right and left of the lobby !

    Ryan will also distance himself soon , he wants to be in the race in 2016.

    September 19, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. TY

    Yea words, only saying this because of the election. These people always forget where they came from until something like this happen than they have a story to tell. This is the CORD believes of the REP. party.

    September 19, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. PJ

    "what happened to Republican unity?"
    The Tea Party happened.

    September 19, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. borderless

    Does anyone remember when Obama was caught telling the Prime Minister of Russia that after this election, he "will have a lot more freedom"? I mean, sure, Romney's comment at a private fund raiser was embarrassing. But let's take that for what it is: a bit of hyperbole aimed at galvanizing right wing supporters. Compare that to Obama's open mic comment. He was establishing intention. He was telling the Prime Minister of Russia that after this election, he doesn't have to worry about being reelected so he will be "free" to act in ways contrary to the wishes of his electorate. That isn't hyperbole. That is an intent to double cross the people who put him in office for the benefit of not just a foreign power, but one that views us on unfriendly terms. Yet CNN downplayed that incident while they saturate their news with this bit of nonsense. Is anyone at all paying attention?

    September 19, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  24. myviewis

    I think Romney is correct that people have become government dependent and Obama's economy is to keep people depending on the government and our economy is not going up, is not moving. People need to get off government dependency and the way to achieve it is by finding a job, which right now with Obama there are no jobs to be found.

    How can people be happy depending on government hand-outs???????

    We are talking about people who have learned to manipulate the system to live off the system and they are healthy and strong and could be working leaving those monies for people who need those monies like true poor families, women in poverty with 1 or 2 kids who truly can't work, the elderly, the disabled.

    Doesn't it bother Americans to see the true, really needy people have the monies they could be getting taken away by those who can work??????????

    September 19, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. kayla

    mr. heller, don't forget the saying "BIRDS OF A FEATHER" FLOCK TOGETHER, YOU ARE NO DIFERENT THAN THE TWITT.

    September 19, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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