SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A leaked video of Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser shows the Republican presidential nominee describing the majority of President Obama’s supporters as people who are “dependent on government” and “believe that they are victims.”
The video was supplied by an anonymous source to Mother Jones magazine, which is published by the San Francisco-based nonprofit Foundation for National Progress.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney is heard saying 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.”
Romney goes on to say that “these are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect.” He says his job “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Romney said he had to convince the “five to ten percent in the center” to vote for him, adding that members of this group vote sometimes based on “emotion, whether they like the guy or not.”
Romney Says Leaked Fundraiser Remarks ‘Not Elegantly Stated’
The Obama campaign pounced on the comments, which are already being compared to then-candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 comments in which Mr. Obama said that Americans in rural communities “cling to guns or religion” because of a lack of jobs. Those comments also were leaked from a private event and outraged many in the Republican base.
“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,” Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager, said in a statement late Monday afternoon. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
The Romney campaign reacted to the video’s release by issuing a statement saying, “Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy.”
“As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work,” said Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho. “Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.”
Romney’s 47 percent reference is tied to findings that nearly half of Americans were found to have not paid income taxes. Conservatives seized on the comments to portray themselves as hard workers tasked with supporting freeloaders. Their opponents noted that most Americans pay other taxes, including payroll and sales taxes. The Tax Policy Center found that in 2009, following the financial crisis, 17 percent of households did not pay any federal income tax or payroll tax, mostly students, the elderly and the disabled.
Mother Jones did not reveal the date and location of the event in the video, which is described as having occurred after Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination.
(Copyright 2012 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. CBS News contributed to this report.)