Mitt Romney told donors at a fundraising event earlier this year that 47% of Americans will vote for President Obama because they are "dependent upon government" and "believe that they are victims." The secretly recorded remarks were provided to Mother Jones by a source, the magazine said Monday.
The dust-up over the video came on the same day that the GOP campaign unveiled a strategy to again lay out details of Romney's policy positions.
In the video, Romney appears to write off half of the electorate in response to a question from a donor. All but Romney's head is obscured. The magazine did not say when or where the video was shot.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called the comments shocking. "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," he said in a statement.
Romney responded to the controversy at a news conference called while he was in Southern California for a fundraiser Monday evening. He stood by his videotaped remarks while saying they were "not elegantly stated" and were made "off the cuff."
"It's a message which I'm going to carry," he said. "The president's approach is attractive to people who aren't paying taxes."
Obama faced a similar moment in the 2008 campaign, when he told donors that many Americans who are angry about their struggles "cling to their guns or religion."
Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, made reference to that remark Monday at a campaign event in Des Moines. "I remember that one time when he was talking to a bunch of donors in San Francisco and he said people like us, people from the Midwest like to cling to their guns and religion," Ryan said.
Ryan went on: "And I've got to tell you this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud to say so. That's just weird. Who says things like that? That's just strange."
"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.
"He starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
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