A series of video clips from a ritzy Mitt Romney fundraiser last May have made their way to the Web, depicting the Republican presidential nominee making a number of frank and off-message remarks about the race.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in the video. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax."
Romney also joked that he would have an easier time winning the White House if his father—born to Americans living in Mexico—was born to Mexican parents; he expressed skepticism of the possibility of a peace deal between Israel and Palestine; he predicted that the mere fact of his being elected president would improve the economy; and he added that they were limiting his wife Ann's campaign appearances, "so that people don't get tired of her."
The Obama campaign was quick to jump on the comments. "It's shocking that a candidate for president of the United States 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," campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
In a press conference hours after Mother Jones posted the videos, Romney did not back away from his sentiments. Though characterizing the May remarks as "not elegantly stated" and "off the cuff," he said they were still "a message which I'm going to carry and continue to carry, which is look, the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them."
The video comes at a troubled time for Romney, amid reports of infighting within his campaign, criticisms of his response to violence in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador, and polls showing his opponent enjoying a bounce from the conventions. But his supporters insist that Romney can still win, pointing to a leaked video from the 2008 race in which then-candidate Barack Obama described some voters as "bitter," clinging to "guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."
Did the "47 percent" video sink Romney's campaign? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist and Writer
Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group