Washington: In a major embarrassment to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a video of his fundraising has surfaced that shows him dismissing President Barack Obama's supporters as "victims" who live off government handouts.
The remarks of Romney, from a video of private fundraiser held early this year, was first reported in the liberal magazine Mother Jones, creating political upheaval in the presidential elections, which is now just 50 days away.
In the video, Romney, 65, says nearly half the country supports the president in large measure because they believe that they are entitled to government services for which they don't pay taxes.
"There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in the video. "There are 47 per cent 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."
The Republican nominee says his tax policies don't resonate with these voters because many of them don't pay any taxes.
"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney tells the group.
The Republican presidential candidate further says in the video that "job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
The Obama Campaign was quick to launch a scathing attack on Romney.
"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. "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."
Soon thereafter the Romney Campaign tried to downplay the video of the fundraising event held in Florida on May 17. "Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," Romney Campaign communications director Gail Gitcho said.
"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."
Later in the evening, Romney himself was forced to come out and clarify his views as he did an impromptu press conference before a fund raising event in California, wherein he said the video didn't fully captured his views or his entire comments about personal responsibility and role of government in society.
"I am talking about a political process of drawing people in my campaign. My campaign is about helping people take more responsibility. This is ultimately a question about the direction of the country.
"Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits, or do you believe instead in a free-enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams?" he asked.