By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
Being called "obviously inarticulate" by your running mate isn't something a presidential candidate ever wants to hear.
Yet Rep. Paul Ryan was trying to defend GOP candidate Mitt Romney — not belittle him.
Other Republicans also are having a hard time parsing what Romney meant by saying that 47 percent of Americans don't pay income taxes and think the government should take care of them — and will likely vote for Obama.
A video clip of his comments, surreptitiously recorded at a closed-door Florida fundraiser in May, has been seized upon gleefully by the Obama campaign.
A supportive independent advocacy group is running an ad in battleground states ridiculing Romney's remarks. And Obama told CBS' David Letterman: "One thing I've learned as president is that you represent the entire country."
What Romney meant, Ryan told KRNV-TV in Reno, Nev., was that under Obama, government dependency and economic stagnation are both up. "He was obviously inarticulate in making this point."
Should he have worded it differently? "That's for sure," Ryan said.
Romney has called his comments "not elegantly stated" but hasn't renounced them.
In what's clearly been a rough week for Romney, the clip has become a major unwanted distraction for many Republicans.
The Romney campaign is fighting back with a 1998 clip in which Obama — then an Illinois state senator — says he supports some distribution of wealth "to make sure everybody's got a shot."
"President Obama said that he believes in redistribution. Mitt Romney and I are not running to redistribute wealth. (We're) running to help Americans create wealth" Ryan told a rally Wednesday in Danville, Va.
Obama was spending a rare full day at the White House, including a meeting with Myanmar democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi. Romney had fundraisers and other campaign events in Atlanta and Miami.
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