United States Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s election campaign has taken a major blow after secret video files of the his “off the cuff” remarks in which he criticizes supporters of his opposition, President Barack Obama, for being “entitled” and “dependent on government” was released on the Internet.
American news site, Mother Jones, on Monday published a the series of secretly recorded videos that show Romney in a closed-door fundraiser with 30 potential donors earlier this year. The video was blurred to protect the identities of the affluent donors, work staff at the dinner and to conceal the location, but Romney’s face is left uncovered as he expresses his opinions on Obama supporters.
Discussing Obama supporters and his strategy, Romney said: “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 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… These are people who pay no income tax.
In his private and candid remarks to donors, Romney went on to say, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Analysts say his statements, perceived as callous, could go a long way to undermine his candidacy. The Huffington Post explains:”Romney’s comments on the video go a step beyond his August claim, made in public, that the Obama administration’s state-by-state welfare waivers were an effort to “shore up his base.” In the behind-closed-doors speech to donors, Romney seems to be suggesting that nearly half of Americans expect to have all their needs supplied by the government.”
It is a widely held view amongst conservatives that the opposition Democratic party panders to the dependent citizens in the United States and will use them as a stepping stone to political power.
In the closed door meeting, Romney further explains his strategy to reach a margin of voters who favoured Obama in the 2008 elections, but could be swayed.
“We speak with voters across the country about their perceptions. Those people I told you—the 5 to 6 or 7 percent that we have to bring onto our side—they all voted for Barack Obama four years ago. So, and by the way, when you say to them, “Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?” they overwhelmingly say no.
“They like him. But when you say, “Are you disappointed that his policies haven’t worked?” they say yes. And 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. 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.
“They love the phrase that he’s “over his head.” But if we’re—but we, but you see, you and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us. And these people are people who voted for him and don’t agree with us. And so the things that animate us are not the things that animate them. And the best success I have at speaking with those people is saying, you know, the president has been a disappointment.
“He told you he’d keep unemployment below 8 percent. Hasn’t been below eight percent since. Fifty percent of kids coming out of school can’t get a job. Fifty percent. Fifty percent of the kids in high school in our 50 largest cities won’t graduate from high school. What’re they gonna do? These are the kinds of things that I can say to that audience that they nod their head and say, “Yeah, I think you’re right.” What he’s going to do, by the way, is try and vilify me as someone who’s been successful, or who’s, you know, closed businesses or laid people off, and is an evil bad guy. And that may work.”
International consultants and sentiment over intellect
In another video clip, Romney boasted of having retained a group of highly intelligent consultants who have “run races all over the world”. He said the individuals equal to the likes of Karl Rove, had been involved in election campaigns in Armenia, Africa and even aiding Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking on what’s going to win him the election, Romney said sentiment and not intellect will secure him the most powerful position in the country. He said: “My dad used to say, “Being right early is not good in politics.” And in a setting like this, a highly intellectual subject—discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections. And there are, there are, there are—for instance, this president won because of ‘hope and change.’”
Finally, his thoughts on what impact his win will have on the markets:
Romney camp reacts to release of the videos
The presidential candidate’s campaign is doing serious damage control following the release of the videos. According to the AP, Romney said the video clip in which he called nearly half of Americans “victims” was “not elegantly stated” and was “spoken off the cuff.” He is standing by his statements, which he explains were made during a question and answer session with donors.
Romney said it was proof that his campaign is focused on reaching America’s middle class, adding that Obama’s approach will be appealing to those who don’t pay taxes.
His spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, claims Romney is eager to help those Americans he is seen criticising in the video clip.
“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,” Gitcho said in a statement.
“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.”