Mitt Romney secret video reveals views on Obama voters


Extract of Mitt Romney secret recording: "They'll vote for this president no matter what"

A secretly filmed video has emerged showing Mitt Romney disparaging Barack Obama voters at a private donor dinner.

The Republican nominee is shown saying the 47% of Americans who back the president do not pay income tax and would never vote for Mr Romney.

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Mr Romney says.

In a late-night appearance, Mr Romney said his remarks were not "elegantly stated", but did not retract them.

"This is the same message I give to people in public," he said in response to the video, released by liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones.

Earlier, his campaign said Mr Romney "wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy".

"As the [former Massachusetts] 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," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.

Start Quote

[The 47%] are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them”

End Quote Mitt Romney Republican presidential nominee

The Obama campaign was quick to pounce.

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

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says that this may prove to be a significant setback for Mr Romney, who has been relentlessly characterised by his political opponents as privileged and out of touch.

Also on Monday, Mr Romney's campaign unveiled a significant reworking of its strategy less than two months before election day.

Campaign advisers told the US media on Monday that Mr Romney would speak more on his specific policy proposals in the coming days and weeks.

Until now his message to voters has largely consisted of repeated attacks on President Obama's economic record.

'No matter what'

The video provided to Mother Jones is said to have been filmed at a private fund-raiser at some point after Mr Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee.

Its picture is blurred out with the exception of Mr Romney's face, and no attendees are visible.

Who pays US income tax?

The US federal government runs off two kinds of taxes: payroll taxes, which fund benefits such as Social Security, and income taxes, which largely fund the rest of the federal budget.

In 2011, the Tax Policy Center studied the tax liability of US households:

  • 53.6% paid income taxes, 46.4% did not
  • 28.3% paid payroll taxes but not income taxes
  • 10.3% were elderly and retired and were not taxed on Social Security benefits
  • 6.9% did not pay any tax with household incomes of less than $20,000 (£12,300)

The majority of those who pay payroll but not income tax do so because of tax benefits for the elderly, families with children and low-income earners.

The income tax segment is one of several clips posted online, in which Mr Romney expands at some length on his approach to the forthcoming election, and how his campaign will take on President Obama.

"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Mr Romney is seen saying, referring to the percentage of Americans who have no income tax liability.

"There are 47% 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. "

Mr Romney is later seen saying that his campaign has not been as harsh on Mr Obama as possible, because the president remains likeable and because of a desire to win the support of his otherwise disenchanted former supporters.

"Because they voted for him, they don't want to be told that they were wrong, that he's a bad guy, that he did bad things, that he's corrupt," he says, referring to independent voters who chose Mr Obama in 2008.

"Those people that we have to get, they want to believe they did the right thing, but he just wasn't up to the task."

Campaign divisions?

Mr Romney also told the fundraising dinner he believes that if he won, there would be an immediate market-driven boost to the economy.

Race to the White House

The videos bookended a difficult 24 hours for the Romney campaign. On Sunday, a lengthy Politico story detailed apparent divisions and indecision within the campaign.

That was followed by a public revising of campaign strategy on Monday morning.

"We are not rolling out new policy," campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said, "So much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here's how we are going to get them done and these are the specifics."

In that vein, the campaign released an online ad on Monday that discusses his economic plan. Advisers say the campaign will now speak more specifically about his budget plans and tax policy.

A series of opinion polls at the end of last week showed Mr Romney trailing Mr Obama both nationally and in several swing states.

The two men square off in the election on 6 November, but early voting begins soon in several states.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I know he wasn't topless but will he chase the videographer through the courts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Mitt conveniently forgot that "21,000 Wealthy Americans Avoided Paying Income Tax" (ABC news); "10 Most Profitable US Corporations Paid Average Tax Rate Of Just 9%" (Economist) ; "GE generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but not only paid NO TAX, but also got a tax benefit of $1.1 billion (2009)" (Forbes). How can Mitt remember such facts! Many of these people are Mitt's biggest donors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Romney will say/do anything to get elected but everyone knows he represents the rich and powerful in American society and would be a complete disaster not just for the US, but for the world, if elected president.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    @171 Geoffrey TW
    "(Obama) is the laziest president since records began, he plays more golf than a PGA veteran."

    Obama has taken 70 so-called 'vacation' days up to this point in his first term. Less than Reagan, George HW and his son. By the same point, George W Bush had taken 225 days. Over two terms, Reagan had the record at 436 days, until George W Bush came in with 977. Who's lazy, Geoffrey?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
    With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    This sounds like Gordon Brown's 'Bigot Gate'. Romney has insulted almost half the electorate and revealed the ugly face of conservatism. He forgets, as hard-nose conservatives do, that most of the unemployed will have contributed to the nations coffers when they were in work, thus adding to funds for unemployment benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    It was the Bush administration (Republican) that paved the way for firms like Lehman Brothers. I understand it was executive greed in the world of finance which caused the recession we are all trying to recover from in Europe NOT those who voted for Obama (whether they pay federal income tax or not)...whatever happens in the US affects us so I sincerely hope Obama wins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    At the Dutch elections last week they did polling outside the box asking people which American candidate they would support. 97% said Obama, 1% Romney and 2% unsure.
    (Many Dutch people are world news-savvy and my country is a quite successfull SOCIALIST/LIBERAL nation)

    So Mitt, u can use this as an argument that at least ur still with the majority of Americans while here it would only be 1% . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Last time in 2008 it was Obama in secret meetings in San Francisco talking about folks with 'guns and religion'.

    Same old story, just different time and place. Yawnnnnnn.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    At least he is being real and not pandering,except to the rich fundraisees. It doesn't make him electable, however, nor dos it make him any more likable. But it does show how far off the mainstream the GOP in the US has drifted under the "intellectual" leadership of the likes of Karl Rove, who consider only "winning" at any cost.
    Give me an Obama any time rather than this neo-feudal nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    A political system that lets people like Romney get to this sort of position is corrupt! Money talks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    ~50% of Americans do not pay Federal tax. Should we conclude that the rest 3% is either undecided or GOP? These people should be worried too. I think Mitt will try to pass a bill, if he ever become president, that only rich people with certain $ value of tax return are eligible to vote. Then he needs to think some clever strategy to bail out many rich people (& companies) who do not pay any tax!

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Only thing scarier than Mr. Romney lying is Mr. Romney telling the truth! (well, his version, anyway)

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    It's that kind of arrogance that gets the US a bad name. We are all entitled to our opinions, especially when the economic policies of the US have such a dramatic effect on other western economies. We are all in this mess together - something Romney doesn't seem to comprehend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Mr.Britches...I do not "work" for Obama's team...I get up an work every day like 99% of this country...and I will not hand the keys to the car back to the Republican Party so they can cheat again. We will bring back Glass-Steagal Banking Regulations, Volcker will be implemented, no more ENRON, no more KEATINGS S&L SCANDAL, no more AIG, no more GOLDMAN SACHS cheating, no more LEHMAN BROTHERS...

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    A clear and very obvious sign of any civilised society is how it treats its elderly,sick,unemployed,very low wage earners!
    This from a man who believes he's "Joe the plumber"by paying an average 13% tax per year over a ten year period and is proud of that parallel universe record as well,you simply could not make it up!?
    What a towering intellect he must have,I still cant believe he's nominated!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    Jay, Rasmussen has it the other way around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    I knew the rich ate better than everyone else....but BOTH feet...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    ...I'm just waiting for Deep Throat to show up in a parking garage with the tax returns

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    BBC poll- Obama 49%, Mitt 46%. So if Mitt is right then, only 2% of tax paying Americans support Obama while all 46% others pay tax and belongs to GOP. How mor(m)on a person need to be to come up with such a data! Does it take much talent to understand how the country will do, even for the tax payers, if such a person becomes the president, besides his total lack of purpose to be the president.


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