WASHINGTON: In a secretly recorded video revealed on Tuesday Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney calls nearly half of Americans ‘freeloaders’ and says it is not possible to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute.
The video shows Romney sharing his real views on various domestic and foreign policies with a group of rich Americans which contrasts sharply with his public statements on these issues.
Political pundits are claiming that the video practically kills Romney’s bid for the White House in Nov. 6, 2012 presidential elections, although the Republican candidate tried to dismiss his remarks as insignificant.
“It’s not elegantly stated let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question,” he said at a hurriedly called news conference.
But Romney also said that its’ “message that I am going to carry and continue to carry which is that the president’s approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes.”
The remarks, howeverm provided the Obama campaign with a golden opportunity to further damage an already weakened challenge to President Barack Obama from his Republican rival.
“Mitt Romney wrote off nearly 50 per cent of people in this country before he’s even sworn into office,” said Jen Psaki, Obama’s campaign manager. “People … are scratching their heads about what he said.”
“This moment of candor from Mitt Romney once again shows he has no understanding of what average Americans go through. His worldview is too narrow for him to ever make a good President,” said Democrat Senator Charles Schumer.
President Obama offered no comments but Vice President Joe Biden said he will “let Mr Romney’s words speak for themselves.”
A prestigious political magazine, Mother Jones, has obtained a copy of this video of a May 17 fundraiser for Romney at Boca Raton, Florida, with tickets costing $50,000 a plate.
In the video, Romney tells his rich friends he sees half of the American electorate as freeloaders who do not believe in personal responsibility.
During the dinner, a donor asks Romney how the “Palestinian problem” can be solved.
“The Palestinians … for political purposes are committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel … and have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace,” he says, adding that “there’s just no way” to resolve this issue.
Instead of trying to resolve the dispute, Romney would try to prevent both sides from taking any major action.
“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
While these remarks show Romney’s lack of depth on foreign policy issues, the US media believes that his comments about half of American voters being freeloaders are going to hurt him the most.
“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” he tells his guests and then goes on to define them as those who do not want to earn a living.
“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,” Romney adds.
“And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them.”
The remarks spread like virus as soon as Mother Jones posted them on its site. Within hours, they appeared on thousands of news sites, social chat rooms, and other media outlets.
Millions of hits forced major newspapers – such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times – and television channels — CNN, CBS and NBC – also to post analytical stories on their sites, predicting Romney’s doom.
Some predicted that this could be a “game-changer,” forcing American voters to abandon Romney. Others warned Americans not to vote for a man who had such views.
One popular news site – Huffington Post – predicted that the video will “kill” Romney’s candidacy because his “misunderstanding collides too directly with nearly every perspective a voter might bring to the polls, regardless of their partisan identification, their age, their gender, their race or their ideology.”