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Some Florida Seniors Divided On '47 Percent'


The fundraiser where the Romney video was recorded was held in Florida. And today, in that politically important state, reaction was mixed about Romney's unscripted remarks. NPR's Kathy Lohr gathered some views from people at a retirement community.

KATHY LOHR, BYLINE: At Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, seniors gathered for breakfast, worked out in exercise classes and listened to radio or watched TV where they first heard Romney's remarks. Many in this group are part of the 47 percent who Romney said pay no income taxes and rely on the government. Republican Sudduth Cummings says Romney's observations are correct.

SUDDUTH CUMMINGS: Well, I think he's being politically realistic and I think he's being accurate.

LOHR: Cummings is an Episcopal priest who recently turned 65. He says the media are distorting Romney's comments. While many residents here do get social security and are on Medicare, Cummings says he doesn't consider those entitlements. Now Romney is not talking about people like him.

CUMMINGS: For a lot of the retired, the older population, we've worked hard and we've taken responsibility for ourselves and, you know, we're prepared for this time.

LOHR: But don't these comments, you know, sort of not take that into consideration? That some of these folks...

CUMMINGS: Remember the context. He's talking about votes. And that's all this is about.

LOHR: Around noon the dining area is busy, and just before the lunch hour I talk with Jalma Baker who's wearing a blue Barack Obama T-shirt. As you might guess, Baker has a different opinion.

JALMA BAKER: I hope that the people that are undecided have second thoughts about what kind of a leader he would be with his focus so narrow and so limited.

LOHR: Baker volunteers for the president's campaign here in Tallahassee. She says Romney's comments show disrespect for people who are not in his income bracket.

BAKER: I think he's very limited. And I think he's always lived a very rich lifestyle and everybody around him is. And he just doesn't understand that that's not the way life is. He sort of divided into the super rich and the victims. I think that's kind of the way he views society.

LOHR: Another resident, Everett Yarbrough, focused on Romney's comments on the Mideast peace process. Yarbrough is a Romney supporter and he says the president's policy is not clear to him so he's glad Romney's foreign policy positions are coming out. Still, he acknowledges that may not have happened in the best way.

EVERETT YARBROUGH: Well, he certainly should consider his comments very carefully and what he was saying. And then, of course, in today's society with cell phones and all that, you pretty much got to say, whatever you say, somebody's going to record it like we're doing now. And I hope none of these come back to haunt me.

LOHR: People here say it's unclear whether the comments will have a long term effect on Mitt Romney's candidacy. Kathy Lohr, NPR News, Tallahassee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Kathy Lohr
Whether covering the manhunt and eventual capture of Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina, the remnants of the Oklahoma City federal building with its twisted metal frame and shattered glass, flood-ravaged Midwestern communities, or the terrorist bombings across the country, including the blast that exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, correspondent Kathy Lohr has been at the heart of stories all across the nation.