By TOM RAUM, Associated Press
Republicans expected the Nov. 6 presidential election to be a national referendum on Barack Obama's presidency and economic stewardship. But some GOP candidates in tight races are getting anxious about being cemented to Mitt Romney.
Pushback against the GOP standard-bearer is showing up in competitive congressional and gubernatorial races.
"I'm working to keep President Obama as our commander-in-chief. Not Mitt Romney," Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren said during Thursday's Massachusetts Senate debate with Republican incumbent Scott Brown.
Brown supports Romney — but lately it's been a little lukewarm.
Of Romney's secretly-recorded remark to wealthy donors that 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes and see themselves as victims, Brown said: "That's not the way I view the world."
In neighboring Connecticut, Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon also rejected Romney's "insinuation that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care."
And New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a prime-time speaker at the Republican National Convention, said many in her state are at the poverty level and don't owe taxes "but they count just as much as anybody else."
Among those not paying federal income taxes are many elderly people on Social Security. Obama sought Friday to rally this important and active voting bloc while at the same time get in a dig at Romney.
Programs like Medicare and Social Security are not "handouts," the president said in a satellite address to an AARP convention. "You paid into these programs your whole life. You earned them," he told seniors
Obama also attended a rally in Woodbridge, Va. The state is a prime battleground for Obama and Romney.
Romney greeted law enforcement officers in West Palm Beach, Fla., then headed for Nevada, another closely contested state hard hit by housing woes and suffering the nation's highest unemployment, 12 percent.
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