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Romney rehearsing for ‘47%’ query

– Everybody watching this weekend’s Redskins game saw the ad featuring Mitt Romney saying it.

In focus groups, pollsters only have to say “47 percent” for voters to know what they’re talking about. And lest anyone in Ohio, Florida or Virginia forget, President Obama reminds them at each of his campaign stops.

The remarks in question were uttered by Romney in May to wealthy donors at a private fundraiser, at which he said that 47 percent of Americans will support Obama’s re-election and are government freeloaders who pay no income taxes, see themselves as “victims” and can’t be persuaded to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

In the two weeks since a surreptitious video of the remarks surfaced, they have pierced the national consciousness. In the closing stretch of the presidential campaign, the moment has become a defining element of Romney’s candidacy.

And Wednesday, the 47 percent issue is likely to come to the fore during the first presidential debate. Romney’s advisers said he has rehearsed debate answers in which he argues he is for “the 100 percent” and his policy prescriptions would help the growing number of Americans under Obama’s presidency who are struggling to find work or living on food stamps.

“We wouldn’t be surprised, obviously, if that came up in the debate, and the governor’s prepared, obviously, to respond to that,” senior adviser Ed Gillespie told reporters Monday. “We believe the voters will see and appreciate the fact that what Governor Romney’s talking about would improve the quality of life for 100 percent of Americans.”

Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said: “The Obama guys are pouring the coals on this on TV and driving it. You inform with reason, and you persuade with emotion. They’ve made the rational case that Romney’s policies would hurt the middle class, and this is the emotional counterpart.”

Castellanos, who advised Romney’s 2008 campaign but is not affiliated with his current one, said there is reason for Romney’s team to be alarmed: “The only thing in politics that is worse than voters deciding that they don’t like you is when voters decide you don’t like them.”

The Obama campaign has widely circulated a TV ad that shows images of factory workers, veterans and families against audio of Romney’s 47 percent comments.

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