SALT LAKE CITY—Seeking to limit the fallout from a videotaped speech in which he asserts 47 percent of Americans “pay no taxes” and do not take “personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Mitt Romney hastily called a press conference today to apologize personally to the “150 million starving, filthy beggars [he] might have offended.”

Saying that he deeply regretted his choice of words at a private $50,000-a-plate fundraising function in May—during which he argued “[his] job is not to worry” about the lower-earning half of the nation’s populace—Romney personally appealed to the country’s “dirt-caked garbage pickers and toothless street urchins” for forgiveness.

“First and foremost, I would like to offer a heartfelt apology to all the whores, junkies, bums, and grime-covered derelicts out there who make up nearly half our nation,” a visibly contrite and solemn Romney said outside a campaign stop at a local high school. “Let me assure you that I in no way meant to offend any of the putrid-smelling, barefoot masses out there. My campaign is not about dividing this nation, but about bringing all sides together—the rich, elegant members of the upper class, as well as the 47 percent who are covered in flies and eat directly from back-alley dumpsters.”

“I am fully committed to building a better future for every American,” Romney continued, “and that means ensuring all 150 million grease-and-urine-soaked members of our society get a fair shake.”

The Romney campaign reportedly scrambled into damage-control mode after the video leaked Monday, issuing a statement late last night stating that the intended target of Romney’s remarks was ingrained big-government largesse, not the “hordes of uneducated, loathsome scum who unfortunately populate this country.”

However, with Romney’s comments continuing to dominate the news cycle today, the campaign opted to convene a press event to allow Romney to speak directly to the nation’s “grimy panhandlers and coke-addled whores” so that he could issue an apology and explain his familiarity with their struggles.

“I know just how hard it must be to get through a miserable, destitute life that is rife with crying babies whose shrieks consistently disrupt the affluent members of society who actually contribute something to this world,” said the GOP candidate, adding that he wanted to make amends for his recent statements and reach out to what he called the country’s “snaggle-toothed street people” and “hell-spawned savages.” “I know it can be challenging to wake each morning, covered in your own feces and refuse, and get back out there on the streets to beg for spare change and food scraps, always one step from dying right there in an alley.”

“I know your challenges, and I am ready to fight for you,” he added

Romney also said he recognized that the hardships of the nation’s low-earners are made more difficult by the fact that so “very, very many of them are drug-addicted, high-school-dropout single mothers and fathers who sleep in gutters while sewer rats nibble at their necrotic flesh.”

In an effort to right his campaign and rebuild his image, Romney promised to bring his message of compassion and economic opportunity to the “ramshackle, mud-floored huts” in which half of all U.S. residents live.

“Let me make this absolutely clear: I have the utmost respect for all of the filth-encrusted, lesion-covered degenerates of this nation,” Romney said. “In the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting real Americans in their squalid, roach-infested hellholes in every corner of this country. I promise to stand up for every one of you, even the 47 percent of you huddled together for warmth, fighting your own family members for moldy crusts of bread as you wallow in your own excrement.”

Added Romney, “And I look forward to serving you as your next president.”