Mitt Romney’s political stars have been seriously misaligned for the past several days. Last week, he made premature remarks about the attacks at the American embassy in Libya. And on Monday, liberal magazine Mother Jones published recordings of the Republican presidential nominee making disparaging remarks about President Obama’s supporters, pushing his campaign further into retrograde.
In the video, filmed surreptitiously at a private fundraiser with wealthy donors, Romney essentially dismisses half of the American public as people who are “dependent on government,” don’t pay taxes and who “believe they are victims.” He also said they’ll vote for Obama no matter what and that “it’s not my job” to win them over.
In addition, Romney, who trails the president in Latino support, cited his father’s birth in Mexico and said that, “had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.”
Romney responded to the news by holding a last-minute press conference late Monday night and stood by his remarks, but said they had not been “elegantly stated.”
“Of course individuals are going to take responsibility for their life, and my campaign is about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed again,” Romney told reporters.
The video bookended a day that started with the candidate seeking to retool his campaign and its messaging after Politico published a report of an organization in disarray. The Romney sound bites are a gift to his opposition, which Team Obama will undoubtedly use in its ongoing effort to cast Romney as an uncaring candidate who is incapable of empathizing with the struggles of ordinary Americans.
“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,” said Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
In 2008, Obama had a similarly embarrassing moment when he was caught on tape at a fundraiser saying that frustrated working-class voters "get bitter” and then "cling to guns or religion.” But he also said that he would not abandon efforts to win their support. Romney, it appears, gave up on the 47 percent months ago.
“I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he is heard saying in the video. "What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent of people who are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
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(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)