US Sen. Bob Menendez Tuesday held a rally in Belleville on behalf of “the 47 percent,” the slice of the American voting public disparaged in secretly taped remarks made by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a May fundraiser.
Speaking at the Disabled American Veterans post, Menendez, a Democrat seeking a second Senate term, was joined by what he described as some typical members of the 47 percent, including a senior citizen, a military veteran and a young college student. Menendez also touted his own blue-collar roots as the son of Cuban immigrants growing up in Union City.
“I believe that, just like my mom, counting on programs like Social Security and Medicare is not a sense of victimization, it’s not a sense of entitlement,” he said. “That’s something she worked for all her life.”
Since being made public last week Romney’s statements have drawn harsh criticism across the board from Democrats and even some Republicans. Speaking to donors in Florida, Romney said that 47 percent of voters would automatically vote for President Obama because those voters believe they are victims who deserve government help.
Romney later clarified those comments, describing them as “inelegant”. He has also said he would work on behalf of all Americans, including seniors and military veterans, two groups who receive government aid.
Menendez also said that his opponent in the Senate race, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, has so far failed to distance himself from the remarks, as Republicans in other Senate races have done.
In a statememt, Kyrillos fired back, charging Menendez with failing to "produce" for the people of New Jersey.
“I have a plan to improve the economy and create jobs and opportunity for 100 percent of New Jerseyans. Instead of focusing on some stray cat remark made months ago, Bob should be focused on producing for the people of New Jersey. He doesn’t deliver," said Kyrillos. "And that’s why he blames everybody – the last president, future presidents, this group, that group. Slices and dices. Let him be about production. That’s what I’ve been all about for my whole career."