It's around this time in the elections season when Republicans who are facing uphill battles can't risk being thrown off track by the top of their party's ticket. And after a surreptitiously filmed video surfaced of Mitt Romney castigating "47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes," Republicans in tough races have no choice but to defect.
Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who trails behind competitor Democrat candidate Elizabeth Warren by four points in the polls, distanced himself from Romney's comments Tuesday.
"That's not the way I view the world. 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," Brown said in an E-mail to U.S. News. "Too many people today who want to work are being forced into public assistance for lack of jobs."
Brown admits he is troubled by the growing number of Americans who are receiving food stamps, but knows that ignoring those voters is no way to get elected.
"I'm fighting for job-creating policies that will help turn our economy around," Brown says.
Brown's Democratic opponent has been one of President Barack Obama's greatest surrogates and has spoken on behalf of his policies throughout her campaign.
Brown says Warren's plans would "lead to over 700,000 lost jobs, 17,400 right here in Massachusetts." And he says "Elizabeth Warren's job-killing policies will force even more people onto public assistance."
Brown's distancing himself from the Romney campaign is particularly revealing considering Brown and Romney share a key campaign advisor, Eric Fehrstrom.
Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, who leads her Democratic opponent Rep. Chris Murphy by three points, also separated herself from Romney's comments.
"I disagree with Governor Romney's insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care," McMahon said in a release. "I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be. People today are struggling because the government has failed to keep America competitive, failed to support job creators, and failed to get our economy back on track."
McMahon got personal in her statement, referencing a moment in her own life before she became a business mogul overseeing World Wrestling Entertainment. [Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.]
"I am sympathetic to the struggles that millions of Americans are going through because I've been there. As a young couple, Vince and I lost our home and our car. With two small children, it was not an easy time for my family," she says. "That's why I am running for the Senate, because I have been there before and I know the way out."