In a hidden-camera video captured at a private fundraiser and posted Monday afternoon to the website of Mother Jones, Mitt Romney offers an assessment of Barack Obama’s supporters that is far more withering than any he’s revealed in public.
The clip is one in a series of leaked videos, purportedly taken at an unspecified fundraiser held “earlier this year” and obtained by Mother Jones. They cover everything from Romney’s view of how to win over unhappy Obama voters (“they love the phrase that he’s ‘over his head’”) to his belief that policy arguments don’t move polls (“discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections”) to the strategy behind the deployment of Ann Romney. The cache comes on the heels of another surreptitious clip that captures Romney telling donors a story about the miserable work conditions in a Chinese factory to which he once traveled, and which Bain was considering buying.
The most incendiary clip posted by Mother Jones is likely to be Romney’s characterization of Obama voters as an “entitled” cohort, “people who pay no income tax” and are “dependent on government, who believe they are victims.” It appears to reflect a Randian view of the country, in which Romney’s supporters are the producers and Obama’s are the moochers.
In general, it’s not great for a presidential candidate to make unsympathetic generalizations about 47% of the U.S. population. It’s additionally problematic for Romney to whack them for paying too little in taxes when he’s declined to provide more than two years of his own returns and pledged to cut taxes for the middle class — some of whom presumably fall into the 47% Romney is denigrating.
Obama knows full well that views a candidate espouses in private can prove damaging; comments he made at a 2008 fundraiser about voters who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” dogged him for months. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, released a statement this afternoon that said: “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
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The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update, 7:00 p.m. The Romney campaign sends along the following statement from communications director Gail Gitcho:
“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. 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.”
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