Romney scorns Obama backers in leaked video


LOS ANGELES:  Mitt Romney has a new distraction to deal with after  a video  surfaced that shows him dismissing supporters of the President, Barack Obama, as  people who take no responsibility for their livelihoods and who think they are  entitled to government handouts.

In the video, published by Mother Jones magazine, the Republican  presidential nominee tells a private audience of campaign donors  the backers  will vote for Mr Obama ”no matter what” and that he does not ”worry about  those people”.

”There are 47 per cent 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  healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it,” he said. ”These are people  who pay no income tax.”

He added that his job ”is not to worry about those people. I’ll never  convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their  lives.”

The Mother Jones article said the fund-raiser took place on May 17, in  Boca Raton, Florida, at the home of a private equity manager, Marc Leder. In the  video, Mr  Romney uses language that is far more blunt than it is in his public  appearances. His remarks could undermine recent attempts by his campaign to  present him as a caring and charitable leader in his church and community.

Speaking to reporters on Monday night in Costa Mesa, California, where he was  attending a fund-raiser, Mr Romney stood by his comments, saying he was talking  about campaign strategy, not his vision for the country.

”It’s not elegantly stated …  I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a  question. We have a very different approach, the President and I, between a  government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their  dreams.”

Asked what he meant by  ”victims” and ”personal responsibility”, Mr  Romney said  he was ”talking about the political process of drawing people into  my own campaign”.

”Of course individuals are going to take responsibility for their lives. My  campaign is about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed  again, particularly those who don’t have work. This whole campaign is based on  getting people jobs again, putting people back to work.

”This is ultimately a question about direction for the country. Do you  believe in a government-centred society that provides more and more benefits or  do you believe instead in a free-enterprise society where people are able to  pursue their dreams?”

The Obama campaign quickly seized on the video.

”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. It’s hard to serve  as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the  nation,” Mr Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, said in a statement.

An Obama campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said  later  it is possible  excerpts from the video will show up in a forthcoming  campaign ad.

In the video, Mr Romney said  he does not vilify the President because   discussions with focus groups of independent voters who supported Mr Obama in  2008 suggest  tough talk does not work.

Candidates tend to talk more freely at closed-door fund-raisers than   publicly, and when  remarks leak, they can create controversy. In 2008, Mr Obama  told supporters at a San Francisco fund-raiser  small-town Pennsylvania voters  ”get bitter, they cling to guns or religion” – a quote  used against him on  Monday by Mr Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, campaigning  in Des Moines.

The Washington Post

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