On Wednesday, Romney said during a fundraiser in Atlanta that economic success "does not work by a government saying, 'Become dependent upon government.'"
Romney has been retooling his campaign message amid pressure from his own party to push more aggressively against Obama. He's asking Obama supporters from 2004 to back him instead.
And while Obama and Biden's public comments were muted on Romney's remarks, that didn't stop their campaign from quickly producing a Web video featuring people reacting negatively. Obama has argued throughout his term and during the campaign that the federal government must expand access to health care and ease college loan and mortgage repayment to allow more Americans to enter the middle class.
By Wednesday morning, a pro-Obama group had produced a television ad using excerpts of the Romney video, and was scheduled to begin airing it in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin by the week's end.
As proof of what Democrats saw as the potential impact of Romney's comments, candidates for Congress in hotly contested races began immediately trying to tie their Republican opponents to them. In Florida, Democrat Lois Frankel sent out an email fundraising solicitation linking Romney's comments to her opponent Adam Hasner, who is Romney's Florida campaign co-chairman.
In Colorado, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter excavated a months-old quip about food stamp recipients by Republican opponent Joe Coors and used it to try tying him to Romney.
Reserving the spotlight on the issue for his appearance Tuesday on CBS's "Late Show," Obama lightly questioned whether Romney had the sensitivity to be president. "You have to work for everyone, not just for some," Obama told host David Letterman during the show's taping.
Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Colorado, Todd Richmond and Roger Schneider in Wisconsin, Ken Ritter in Nevada, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Debra Martin in Ohio, Brendan Farrington and Matt Sedensky in Florida and Holly Ramer in New Hampshire contributed.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.