Further details emerged Tuesday about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's behind-closed-door remarks to donors, including his belief that the Palestinians don't want peace and that Iran could install missiles in a Palestinian state.
The secretly recorded video, which was posted by the left-wing magazine Mother Jones on its website, Romney charged that the 47 per cent of Americans who support Democratic President Barack Obama are freeloaders "who believe the government has responsibility to care for them" from health care to food to housing, and who pay no income taxes.
On the Palestinian issue, Romney said that he did not believe Palestinians are interested in achieving peace and expressed skepticism about the possibility of a two-state solution.
"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way," Romney can be heard saying in the video.
The magazine says the video comes from a 50,000-dollar-a-plate fundraiser held by a wealthy donor in Florida in May.
Another detail that emerged from the secretly recorded remarks Romney made at a donor event in May is that he joked that if his father George had been "born of Mexican parents" he would have had a better shot at winning the White House. Romney's father was born in a colony of US Mormons in Mexico and spent many years there in his youth, but was an American citizen.
Romney's unfiltered remarks not only unveiled a side of the candidate not yet seen by the public, but also provoked condemnation from conservatives and further eroded the Republican's attempt to retool his campaign this week.
Conservative stalwart William Kristol of the Weekly Standard magazine called his remarks "stupid and arrogant."
"It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 per cent who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters - especially of course seniors ... as well as many lower-income Americans," Kristol wrote in his blog.
Romney was already reeling from last week's controversy over his attack on Obama over the protests in Cairo and killing of US diplomats in Libya, charging that the president sympathized with Muslim protesters.
Asked about Obama's reaction to the video, White House spokesman Jay Carney said he didn't know whether the president had watched it.
"I can tell you that the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims, that students aren't responsible or are victims," Carney said. "He certainly doesn't think that middle-class families are paying too little in taxes."
The newest revelations could spell serious trouble for his bid to be elected US president on November 6. Romney is lagging behind Obama in the polls, but until this week, the race has been seen as quite close.
The 65-year-old Republican referred to his struggle to cultivate support among Latinos and black Americans, and said wistfully it would have been helpful if his father, who lived in Mexico before moving back to the US, had had Mexican parents.
"We are having a much harder time with Hispanic voters, and if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting block has in the past, why, we're in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation," he said.
Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, said late Monday it was "shocking" for a presidential candidate to "go behind closed doors" and make such declarations.
"It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," Messina said in a statement.
Romney later Monday explained to reporters after another fundraiser in Costa Mesa, California, that he had been "speaking off the cuff in response to a question." He added: "It's not elegantly stated."
It is not unusual for US presidential candidates to tell donors what they think they want to hear in closed meetings. In 2008, Obama got into hot water by describing supporters of his opponent as people who "cling to guns and religion."
On Monday, Romney's campaign tried to refocus its attention on the weak economy, seen as an area where Romney, with his background in business, can score points. The campaign launched a new set of television ads to counter criticism he has been vague about his economic policies.
But the revelations from the videotape have distracted the public and the media from his hoped-for new course.
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