Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has sparked what could be the biggest political firestorm facing his campaign to date. In a newly unearthed recording released by the magazine Mother Jones, Romney tells a crowd of donors that he thinks 47 percent of Americans are "dependent" on government and see themselves as "victims."
Mitt Romney: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that’s — it’s entitlement, and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And that — I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 — he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so, my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center."
The Obama campaign immediately pounced on Romney’s remarks, saying: "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation." At a hastily arranged news conference last night, Romney said although his words were not "elegantly stated," he stood by their substance.
Mitt Romney: "Well, you know, it’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a question, and I’m sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that. And so, I’ll — I’m sure I’ll point that out as time goes on. But we don’t even have the question, given the snippet there, nor the full response, and I hope the person who has the video would put out the full — the full material. Of course, I want to help all Americans, all Americans, have a bright and prosperous future, and I’m convinced that the president’s approach has not done that and will not do that."