Ed Gillepsie, senior adviser to Mitt Romney, told reporters that the Republican presidential candidate is ready to talk about his comments on Americans who don't pay federal income tax: 

“We wouldn’t be surprised, obviously, if that came up in the debate, and the governor’s prepared, obviously, to respond to that," We believe the voters will see and appreciate the fact that what Governor Romney’s talking about would improve the quality of life for 100 percent of Americans.”

Strategists on both sides told the Post's Philip Rucker that there's no question the comments hurt the Republican nominee. One Romney adviser said it was "not helpful" for the candidate to try to explain himself -- but suggested that in the debate it might actually work.

That’s the only time he has to adequately explain it, and people might actually pay attention to his answer,” the adviser said.