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Speaking at a private fundraiser back in May of this year, Mitt Romney stated that the nearly 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes are more inclined to vote for President Obama. Romney listed reasons such as dependency on government programs as why the President might appeal to these voters over Romney.

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Report from US News and World Report:

One year to the day after the Occupy Wall Street protests began, Mitt Romney has found himself in the center of a debate over income inequality and taxes—a subject the Occupy movement made its focus.

On Monday, Mother Jones posted a video that showed Mitt Romney telling wealthy donors at a fundraiser in May that “47 percent” of Americans were freeloaders of the government. “These are people who pay no income tax,” the GOP presidential candidate said.

While Romney’s comments were inartful, the 47 percent number is not new.

For years, the number of non-tax payers in America was discussed only in conservative circles. But the number wasn’t yet close to half of all Americans. Curtis Dubay, a senior tax policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says: “We talked about it a lot, these non-payers who filed tax returns but had no liability… But it didn’t get a lot of attention.”

In 2010, though, the Washington-based Tax Policy Center first projected the number of Americans who wouldn’t pay federal income taxes for 2009 at 47 percent. The Associated Press reported on their projections around tax day, and it set off a firestorm of coverage in the Atlantic, New York Times and Fox News.

In October 2011, the number got another boost after it became the basis of a blog “We are the 53 percent,” started by conservative bloggers Erik Erickson of RedState.org and Josh Trevino from the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The blog was in response to an Occupy Wall Street blog “We are the 99 percent.”

Here is the video in question:

Many are hearkening back to President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remark from earlier this year in July or back to his “bitter clinger” remarks from 2008. I think the latter may be more of a reasonable comparison since it was also delivered to a closed-door fundraiser and was a generalized view of a certain segment of the population.

You do the math. Thoughts on this? Is it a major gaffe or media hype?

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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