Senate Republicans Duck “47 Percent” Questions

“We have a long line of people who are running from Romney as if the Olympics are still on,” Harry Reid quips.

Charles Dharapak / AP

Washington, D.C. — Senate Republican leaders avoided questions from reporters at their weekly press conference Wednesday, as the controversy about Mitt Romney’s comments at a private fundraiser were still fresh.

Republican leaders abruptly ended the press conference without taking questions from the journalists gathered there — a highly unconventional move.

When reporters chased him down in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol, he said Romney’s remark that the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay the federal income tax were “victims” did not reflect Romney’s actual views— and that it wouldn’t have a negative effect on Republican Senate races.

“I think every Senate candidate has to deal with their own circumstances the best way they know how,” Thune responded vaguely. “We feel good about where our candidates are.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, however, made Romney’s controversial comments the focus of his time with the press Wednesday, calling them a reflection of “the real Mitt Romney.”

Reid added, reprising a theme he has hit on before, “For all we know, Mitt Romney could be one of those who has not paid any federal income tax.” He continued, “But he has refused to release his returns, so we’ll never know.”

Reid also noted that Republicans aren’t jumping to Romney’s defense.

“We have a long line of people who are running from Romney as if the Olympics are still on,” Reid said.

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