19 September 2012Romney faces the onslaught of a new campaign storm following the release of a video filmed in secret that shows him telling rich donors that nearly half of Americans were dependent ‘victims’ who didn’t pay taxes
Republican Mitt Romney confronted a new headache after a secretly-filmed video showing him telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans “believe they are victims” entitled to extensive government support. He added that as a candidate for the White House, “my job is not to worry about those people.”
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney is shown saying in a video, which was released by the liberal magazine Mother Jones just 50 days before the Nov. 6 election. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon the government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
“47 percent of Americans pay no income tax... so our message of low taxes doesn’t connect,” Romney said. He said his role “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
In a hastily-arranged press conference late Sept. 17 in Los Angeles, Romney insisted that his goal as president would be to “help all Americans,” but he did not shy away from the remarks, saying only that they were “not elegantly stated.”
In his remarks to reporters, Romney did not dispute the authenticity of the hidden-camera footage, but he called for the release of the full video, instead of the clips posted online. He sought to clarify his remarks but did not apologize.
“It’s a message which I continue to carry, which is that the president’s approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn’t as attractive to them. Therefore I’m not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those in the middle,” Romney said.
President Barack Obama’s team called the video “shocking” and quickly seized on the film, as proof the multi-millionaire candidate had written off half the nation and was not fit to be president.
“It’s shocking that a candidate for president of the U.S. would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives,” Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina said. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
The video was the latest blow to the Romney campaign as it fights off reports that its team is in disarray and struggles to close a small but consistent gap with Obama in national polls and battleground states.
Both candidates are also looking to China to score political points as they compete for support from working-class voters. Republicans accuse Obama of failing to follow through on promises to crack down on China’s trade policies as democrats raise questions about Romney’s leadership of a private equity firm that invested in companies operating in China.