NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mitt Romney is in damage control mode after the Republican presidential nominee was caught on video describing nearly half of voters as dependent on the government.
Romney is defending his comments that were made in May during a private question and answer session with some of his biggest donors at a fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla.
The secretly-recorded video was leaked to the website for Mother Jones Magazine, which posted nearly half a dozen isolated clips online.
In the video, the presidential candidate slammed 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, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” Romney said in the video.
“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,” he continued.
A new clip from the same fundraising event was posted on Tuesday. In it, Romney said that Palestinians “have no interest” in peace with Israel and that they are “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.”
“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,” Romney said.
Late Monday night, Romney addressed the comments but stopped short of apologizing for them.
“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.”
Romney explains he was talking candidly to a friendly crowd about the challenges of crafting a winning campaign strategy.
Some political observers are comparing Romney’s remarks to an incident in 2008 when then candidate-Obama was secretly recorded telling donors that many on the right cling to guns and religion.
He weathered the storm and now four years later his campaign calls Romney’s comments “shocking.”
Romney said the video may be misleading because it shows only select edited clips. He is calling for the entire video to be released.
A reporter for Mother Jones promises there is more to come.
Obama’s campaign issued a statement saying, “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. It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”
The president will be in New York City on Tuesday to tape a segment for the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
He’ll also attend a fundraiser hosted by Beyonce and Jay-Z at the rapper’s 40/40 Club in Chelsea.