WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney, during a private fund-raiser captured on video, told a group of donors in much blunter terms than he does publicly how he feels about the election. He joked about his wealth, and quipped that he would have a better shot at victory if he were Latino.
But the most striking portion of the video — clips of which were apparently taken surreptitiously earlier this year, began surfacing online in recent weeks, and appeared in more depth this afternoon on the website of Mother Jones — shows Romney talking in disparaging ways about nearly half of the electorate.
Romney dismisses supporters of President Obama as people who are so dependent on government for their existence that they will support the president no matter what.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” he said, over sounds of waiters pouring drinks and clearing plates. “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.”
“My job is is not to worry about those people,” he added. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, immediately took issue with that comment, calling it “shocking.”
“It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation,” he said.
Gail Gitcho, Romney’s communications director, said in response that the former Massachusetts governor “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,” she said.
Few of the other clips are damning in and of themselves – and some showcase him talking more comfortably than he does in staged settings -- but they play into some of the images people may already have of Romney as an out-of-touch politician. The video is reminiscent of Obama’s comment in 2008 that people “cling to guns or religion,” and it is a reminder that few moments in a politician’s life are private.
“My dad…was born in Mexico,” Romney said in one clip. “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this…I mean, I say that jokingly. But it would be helpful to be Latino.”
He noted that the campaign was limiting the activity of his wife (“We use Ann sparingly right now, so that people don’t get tired of her”) and that he had decided to turn down an appearance on Saturday Night Live (because, he said, it “has the potential of looking slapstick and not presidential.”)
Romney also spoke of his wealth, claiming that he is a self-made millionaire.
“I have inherited nothing,” he said. “There is a perception, ‘Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.’ Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.”
The Globe on Saturday reported on one of the clips, in which Romney talks about touring a factory in China when he was at Bain Capital, as part of a story about Romney’s investments in China. Other small snippets of the fundraisers were uploaded to YouTube several weeks ago by a user with the pseudonym “Anne Onymous.”
The liberal-leaning magazine Mother Jones obtained a complete video of the fundraiser, and posted several fuller clips from it on Monday afternoon. To protect its source, the magazine was not identifying the date or location of the event, but said it occurred after Romney had clinched the Republican nomination.