DENVER -- After Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks upended the presidential campaign, helping the Obama campaign underline a characterization of the GOP nominee it's been drawing for months, a battle is now underway over a re-characterization of a more compassionate Romney on the eve of the first presidential debate in Denver Wednesday night.
In his exclusive interview with FOX31 Denver Monday night, Romney sought to convey more empathy, offering that he'd be a president for the "100 percent of America.
"The American people want to know who can help them," Romney said, before describing the kind of people he wanted to help. "The single mom who's wondering how she can put food on the table at the end of the week."
On Tuesday, before a few thousand supporters at an event in Littleton, Romney's wife, Ann, sought to show a more human side, telling a story about how Mitt Romney took their sons to the hospital to visit a 14-year-old family friend who had cancer.
And she continued to emphasize her husband's compassion even when pivoting to the economy, and pinning the blame for the country's slow recovery on the president.
"In Colorado, you know you need someone who has compassion and the capacity to understand what people are going with and to have the solutions to get the job done," Ann Romney told the crowd.
But the Obama campaign, which held its own press conference Tuesday afternoon near the University of Denver debate site, is challenging that characterization by reminding voters -- as if the two Obama campaign ads airing in the state aren't enough of a reminder -- of Romney's comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay taxes.
"The reason some of those remarks jump out is because we haven't heard Mitt Romney talk like that before," said former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in an interview Tuesday with FOX31 Denver.
"You really only heard him talking about him walking a mile in ordinary people's shoes after a clip came out that revealed he doesn't understand a lot about where they are," Gibbs continued. "And I think it's asking a lot of one debate to try to turn you into a real walking, talking human being."