NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There were big developments in the Mitt Romney presidential campaign on Monday night. The GOP nominee held a news conference to address a controversial video clip.
In it, Romney calls nearly half of Americans “dependent on government” who don’t pay taxes.
Late Monday night, Romney called his words “inelegant,” but defended his message, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
It was intended as an intimate talk inside a private fundraiser earlier this year. But now, grainy, blurred-out video of presidential hopeful Romney is out, leaked to the left-leaning websites Mother Jones and The Huffington Post, and it shows the Republican candidate seemingly slamming voters who support President Barack Obama.
“There are 47 percent who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney says on the video.
It’s unclear when the video was shot or who leaked it.
“And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them to take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents,” Romney says.
Romney responded to the criticism over the comments on Monday night.
“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. “Of course I want to help all Americans. All Americans have a bright and prosperous future.”
He continued: “It’s a message which 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 because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn’t as attractive to them. Therefore I’m not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those in the middle.”
Some political observers are already comparing Romney’s remarks to the following from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008:
“It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or … anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama said.
But despite the similarities, Obama’s campaign is pouncing on Romney.
“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,’” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said.
The websites for Mother Jones and The Huffington Post altered the video at the request of the source, who wanted his or her identity protected.
The date of the fundraising event was not revealed, but was described as occurring sometime after Romney clinched the Republican nomination.
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