Nevada Sen. Dean Heller distances himself from Mitt Romney

Sen. Dean Heller (R), locked in a tight race for reelection against Rep. Shelley Berkeley in Nevada, told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday that he has "very different view of the world" than his party's presidential nominee when it comes to competing for the votes of those who do not pay income tax or receive government assistance.

Heller is the third Republican Senate candidate to publicly take issue with Mitt Romney's comments, caught on video at a closed-door fundraiser in May, that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax see themselves as "victims" and cannot be persuaded to abandon President Obama at the ballot.

"Keep in mind, I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world," Heller said. "And as United States senator, I think I represent everyone, and every vote's important. Every vote's important in this race. I don't write off anybody."

Heller's comments echoed those Tuesday from Sen. Scott Brown (R), running for reelection in Democratic-leaning Massachusetts, as well as Linda McMahon, the Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut. Their public disapproval of Romney's assertions, seven weeks before the election, is a sign of anxiety about how much that video may harm the GOP in the 2012 election.

"I take every vote very very seriously in my Senate race. There's not a portion of society that I don't believe I can't capture if I get a chance to talk to them," Heller said. "I have a very different view of the world, because of how I was raised."

Heller declined to give Romney advice on winning Nevada, where polls show the GOP presidential candidate lagging Obama.

"I'm going to run my Senate race. Let him run his presidential race," Heller said. "I just don't want to make it a habit of having to respond to comments made by other campaigns."

Asked if he is concerned that Romney might become a drag on his own reelection effort, Heller laughed and said, "I don't want to answer that question."

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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