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October 22, 2014

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Romney: ‘Victims’ comment not elegantly stated

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Charles Dharapak / AP

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, addresses the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nev., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 | 12:50 a.m.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Republican Mitt Romney is trying to head off a new distraction for his campaign after a video surfaced showing him telling wealthy donors that 47 percent of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to help from the government that permeates their lives.

At an impromptu news conference Monday, Romney offered no apologies, conceding the comments were not "elegantly stated" and were spoken "off the cuff." The Republican presidential nominee said the remarks showed a contrast between President Barack Obama's "government-centered society" and his belief in a "free-market approach."

"Of course, I want to help all Americans, all Americans, have a bright and prosperous future," Romney told reporters.

Obama's campaign pounced on the video, which was obtained by the magazine Mother Jones and released only hours after Romney's campaign outlined a new strategy to try to rejuvenate a struggling campaign. The video's emergence came as advisers to the former Massachusetts governor tried to reassure party leaders and donors about Romney's strategy amid concerns that the race could be slipping away.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in the video of a May 17 fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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."

Romney said in the video that his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

In a 7-minute news conference with reporters before a fundraiser near Los Angeles, Romney did not dispute the authenticity of the hidden-camera footage, but he called for the release of the full video, instead of just the clips posted online. He sought to clarify his remarks but did not apologize when a reporter asked if he was concerned that he may have offended people.

"It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I'm sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that," Romney said.

About 46 percent of Americans owed no federal income tax in 2011, although many of them paid other forms of taxes. More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The video was the latest headache for Romney's campaign, which has tried to focus attention on a weak economic recovery and make the case that the Republican's business background would help spur the economy. In recent weeks, it has dealt with the fallout from Clint Eastwood's rambling conversation with a chair at the Republican convention and Romney's omission of the war in Afghanistan or thanks to the troops in his primetime convention speech.

The eruption of violence in Egypt and Libya last week prompted Romney to issue a statement assailing the Obama administration before it was known that an American ambassador and three other U.S. citizens had died in Libya, a move that generated criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

A series of polls have shown Obama with an edge nationally and in key battleground states, leading Republicans to implore Romney to give voters more specifics on how he would govern. The new approach aims to improve Romney's standing in the lead-up to the first presidential debate on Oct. 3.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina quickly issued a fundraising appeal based on the video, telling supporters, "If we don't come through for President Obama right now, this will be the guy making big decisions that affect us and our families every single day."

An Obama adviser said the Democratic campaign might use Romney's comments from the fundraising video in television advertisements. The official wasn't authorized to discuss campaign strategy publicly and requested anonymity.

Romney's campaign released a separate television ad, arguing that the president's policies "are making it harder on women." It cited unemployment and poverty statistics for women in an attempt to close the gender gap that has shown women favoring Obama.

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  1. This inside look into Romney kowtowing to a gathering of rich/filthy rich/obscenely rich people was in and of itself interesting. Especially his viewpoint and take on the classes of people which shows and reveals Romney will SAY and DO anything before a crowd of people, not based upon his convictions, but based upon what the composition of people is comprised of. He doctors his comments based ONLY upon the crowd. Period.

    As a side note, Mr. Korn, who came out with this tape, stated it was a rich person's house in Florida where this took place. And this rich person (the name escapes me) has in the past had parties where there were large orgies, yes, sexual in nature, going on all over the place. Not with Romney present, but it shows who the Tea/Republican Party candidate loves to hang out with. Money is more important than morals.

    Anyways, it is what it is, but what I find interesting is after the revelation of his comments, he IMMEDIATELY comes forward last night and tries to perform some kind of damage control, to try to smooth it over. Not because of his convictions, but because he KNOWS he has angered most of the people who vote out here. And it jeopardizes his chances. That is the only reason why this walking back and easing of his comments made is going on.

    Of particular interest to me is this statement...

    "'It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I'm sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that,' Romney said."

    I agree it was "not elegantly stated." But when someone speaks "off the cuff," whatever is said is usually "not elegantly stated."

    Somebody correct me, but my understanding of the term "off the cuff," usually means that what is being stated is not for the record for the general public. And it is also usually only meant for a gathering of people...usually close friends. And, most important, when one speaks "off the cuff," the one doing it is usually always speaking EXACTLY what they think, not mincing any words.

    So, when you speak "off the cuff," YOU MEAN IT. And how can you walk that back and make it sound something other than it is?

    Romney meant it about the forty-seven percent. We are all garbage to him. But, oh, wait, that wasn't meant for our ears. Not now. Because he wants our vote. He wants to snooker us first. Later on, when he gets voted into office, THAT'S when he can double down and affirm we are garbage...when we can't walk back our votes. So, this came out and wasn't intended for our ears. Because he knew it would anger us. So, why did he take the chance saying it in front of rich backers? He didn't see any hidden cameras/microphones. It was safe to say it to them. HE MEANT IT.

    Romney is toast. He's done for.

    Obama/Biden 2012!

    Romney/Ryan 1040s!

  2. Listening to Romney's remarks last night evoked for me a mental image of Montgomery Burns addressing the inept Springfield chapter of the Republican Party. Taking the fact that 47% of Americans don't pay Federal income taxes and failing to analyze the causality behind the number only demonstrates the limitation his thought process. Citizen Romney would probably be shocked to know that the majority of that 47% is comprised of retirees and the working poor, neither of whom has enough earned income to be taxed. Does he seriously believe that these Americans suffer from a victimization psychosis and are deadbeats? Talk about class warfare! The Bush Depression destroyed 60% of household wealth most of which will never be recovered within the remaining lifespan of those who have suffered such loss. That's not enough for Mitt Romney. He would also rob them of their dignity.

  3. Good post, Colin.

    <<So, when you speak "off the cuff," YOU MEAN IT. And how can you walk that back and make it sound something other than it is?>>

    You can't.

    I have said before: when Romney is in front of his own ilk, the "real Mitt Romney" comes out. There is no "disconnect" that he has when in front of others. He'd never say this in front of a crowd of middle-class voters, even middle-class Republicans. Makes you wonder what else he says about a LOT of things "off the cuff" and then changes it when in front of a crowd or TV cameras just to get the votes.

  4. Upon looking more closely at this damning video of Romney speaking at a fat cat dinner at some rich guy's mansion in Boca Raton, Florida, there was something I noticed that really seems out of place.

    Sure, sure, Romney's comments were inflammatory. I get that.

    But look at the video closely.

    All while he is saying that, there are servants catering to this little gathering. I counted about five of them in coat and tails, black and white formal serving gear, smiling cheerfully, going about their job to the best of their abilities.

    And the thing that disturbs me is that, whilst they are doing the job they are being paid to do, all in order to earn an honest dollar, to make their way in this world, to provide for their family.....Romney is basically in the background calling them scum.

    I'm sorry, people, but NO DAMN job is worth that kind of treatment. A person is trying to earning a living and someone is slamming them whilst they are doing it?

    I have scruples. And I wouldn't blame anyone of those servants if they just threw up their hands in frustration, went over and took the house salad with roquefort dressing, or the cheese blintz flombay with custard whipped cream, stepped over to where Romney was speaking his crap, and promptly smacked him hard in the kisser with it...ay lah Three Stooges...then looked over at whoever the stupid employer is, told them to take this job and shove it where the sun don't shine, it's not worth this disgusting treatment, then promptly just walked out.

    A person can only take so much. No job is worth that much money where you have to throw your conscience, your beliefs, your pride, just throw them out, just let them walk all over you, treat you like a doormat, treat you like dirt. I mean, c'mon, that rich guy don't pay them that much to go through that mountain of grief. Not worth it at all.