Footage of Mitt Romney speaking to a group of 30 major donors has surfaced, revealing trove of inflammatory statements. The video — which was shot by an anonymous attendee of the event and originally sent to Mother Jones — includes the assertion that he "inherited nothing" (only true if you don't count private school tuition, parental loans, and after-the-fact charity donations) and a joke about how he'd have a better shot at winning if his Mexico-born father had "been born of Mexican parents ... I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
But perhaps most illuminating is Romney's take on Americans who plan to vote for Barack Obama.
In response to a question about his general strategy for winning the election, the Republican nominee explained that "there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." According to Romney, these are all people 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 ... These are people who pay no income tax." He goes on to say that "[My] job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
The video was revealed in a major scoop by Mother Jones with help from video researcher James Carter (grandson of Jimmy Carter), who reportedly helped convince the anonymous videographer to release it to the media. It is reminiscent of Obama's remarks at a 2008 fund-raiser that people laid off in the Midwest and Pennsylvania "cling to guns and religion." Not coincidentally, the Obama campaign now requires people at most fund-raisers to surrender their cell phones.
The timing of what can only be described as a Romney super-Jenga moment could hardly have been worse for his campaign. Following a Politico report on bitter infighting amid the campaign consultants, the Republican nominee's staff announced a focus on specific policy prescriptions and new issues, including foreign policy. But the leaked video seems likely to dominate the coming news cycles, and the Obama campaign wasted little time in pressing its advantage.
“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," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
Mother Jones promised, in words that can't be welcome in Romneyland, that more excerpts from the video are coming soon.