Already scrambling to steady a struggling campaign, Republican Mitt Romney confronted a new headache Monday after a video surfaced showing him telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support.
He added that as a candidate for the White House, "my job is not to worry about those people."
At a hastily called news conference late Monday, Romney conceded the comments weren't "elegantly stated" and that they were spoken "off the cuff."
President Barack Obama's campaign quickly seized on the video, calling it “shocking.
"It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in a video posted online by the magazine. "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 are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said.
Romney said his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
In his remarks to reporters, Romney did not dispute the authenticity of the hidden-camera footage, but he called for the release of the full video, instead of the clips posted online. He sought to clarify his remarks but did not apologize.
The private remarks are the latest in a string of comments from the multimillionaire Republican businessman whom Democrats have criticized as out of touch.
During the primary campaign, Romney insisted that he was "not concerned" about the very poor, said he knew what it felt like to worry about being "pink-slipped," and said that his wife drove a "couple of Cadillacs."
Aides to Obama's campaign said the latest video would help them continue to make the case that Romney doesn't understand the concerns of average Americans.
Politicians are frequently more candid when speaking at fundraisers that are closed to the media than they are at public events; to supporters who have paid handsomely to see them, they offer up inside takes on their campaigns, their policies and their world views. The Detroit News