Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a misstep when he described 47 percent of Americans as feeling entitled to government aid, his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, said today.
"We've had some missteps," Ryan said on "Fox News Sunday," adding that one of them was the comment Romney made at a private session with donors about the attitude of almost half of Americans.
Romney "acknowledges himself that was an inarticulate way of describing how we're worried that, in a stagnant Obama economy, more people have become dependent on government because they have no economic opportunity," said Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Romney's comment, made in May, surfaced in a secretly recorded video first publicized Sept. 17 by Mother Jones magazine.
Ryan also said that, in the Oct. 11 debate he will have with Vice President Joe Biden and the three Romney will have during the month with President Barack Obama, the Republican ticket will offer voters "a very clear choice" on issues including the economy.
Asked by "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace about recent polls showing Romney trailing Obama, Ryan said the Republican ticket is "running against an incumbent president with incredible resources."
Still, the Wisconsin Republican said, "We are going to win this race."
Romney will turn the race with Obama "upside down" with his performance in their debate this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on CBS's "Face the Nation"
"He's had a tough couple of weeks, let's be honest," said Christie, who gave the keynote address at the Republican convention. Yet the morning after Wednesday's debate in Denver, "you are all going to be scratching your heads, saying, 'Wow, we have a barn-burner now,'" Christie said.
Christie said the debates will give Romney a chance to talk directly to voters nationwide without "being filtered by anybody." He also said Romney performed well in the debates during the Republican primaries.
Ryan played down the importance of the first debate in the Fox interview, saying, "I don't think any one event is going to make or break this campaign."
Obama and Romney also will meet in debates on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.
Romney must make two separate pitches during the debates, Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker who sought this year's Republican presidential nomination, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" today.
"You first have to make sure people say Obama's stagnation is unacceptable," and then make the case for what a Romney approach would be, Gingrich said. Romney "doesn't have to hit a home run, but Romney has to be at the end of the debate Wednesday night a clear alternative," he said.
Some Democrats on today's television talk programs said Obama's lead in the polls will shrink after the debate because the former Massachusetts governor will get a boost from being on the same stage as the president.
"This race is going to tighten," David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Obama, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." On ABC's "This Week," Plouffe said, "We believed all along that Governor Romney probably has more benefit out of this debate potentially than we do."
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, said on "Meet the Press" that Romney needs a bump in the polls to keep alive his presidential hopes.
Ryan, during the Fox interview, criticized Obama on foreign policy, especially the administration's efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Obama projects "weakness and equivocation in dealing with Iranian leaders, Ryan said.
"The Ayatollahs, by virtue of their conduct, don't believe the president when he says his interest is to stop Iran" from obtaining nuclear-weapons capacity, Ryan said.
Obama in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25 said the U.S. "will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," and that the time for a diplomatic resolution to the issue "is not limited."
With assistance from Cotten Timberlake and Margaret Talev in Washington and Julie Hirschfeld Davis in Boston.