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Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Breaking News, Media, Politics | 38 comments

Will Leaked “Secret” Romney Video Talking to Supporters Hurt Him? (ROUNDUP) UPDATED

Will a video of Mitt Romney talking privately to supporters showing apparent disdain for Obama voters and suggesting nearly half of them just want to take from the government hurt him? Will this be a major twist in the campaign — or one more new and old political media mini-firestorm that’ll fade in a week or two? See Tyrone Steels take on it HERE.

Reports about and embeds from a “secret” video of Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney talking to supporters at a private fundraiser are now whipping around the Internet.

The question: will significant mainstream media and damaging polling impact to Romney be far behind?

The video “scoop” is provided by Mother Jone’s David Corn, and you can read and watch key parts of it here. Much of it isn’t a surprise: Romney’s confidence that once he takes off he’ll have to do little before the economy will rebound, his gingerly handling of Obama due to fears that if he gets too rough he will lose independent voters, his confidence in the professionalism and tougheness of his campaign team and consultants. But there’s one key quote that could indeed hurt him — and are already predicting it could hurt him bigtime.

During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

Here’s the embed video — one of many on the Mother Jones’ Corn piece allowing readers to listen to Romney for themselves:

Go to the link to read the entire piece and watch all of the embeds..

It’s yet more bad imagery for Romney who in recent weeks seems to be battered by bad news about his campaign, despite boosterism by some of the conservative media. His problem now is not getting Republican votes. His problem is peeling off the votes of more moderate Democrats and independent voters. This tape reinforces the Democratic created perception of Romney, but it probably will cause shrugs among some voters who either always felt Romney felt this way or who are Republicans and agree with him.

But the bottom line? It is not beneficial. It won’t gain him one vote — but it may lose him some.

The Romney camp has responded to the video:

“Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work,” Romney spokesperson Gail Gitcho said in a statement. “Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.”

The Obama campaign had something to say, too:

“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.”

UPDATED: Bloomberg’s Josh Barro’s piece is titled: “Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election.” Some chunks:

You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for president…

…This is an utter disaster for Romney.

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.

…….Corn tells us there are more embarrassing moments on segments of the video he hasn’t released yet. Romney jokes that he’d be more likely to win the election if he were Hispanic. He makes some awkward comments about whether he was born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth.

But those are survivable. The really disastrous thing is the clip about “victims,” and the combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him.

Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are. This video provides an answer: He feels that you’re a loser. It’s not an answer that wins elections.


Andrew Sullivan:

This is a major coup for Mother Jones and you should read the whole thing and watch the videos from a private fundraiser earlier this year. The contempt for 47 percent of Americans as parasites is really quite something. As is his total rejection of the preposterous idea that he was born into privilege…

Justin Green on GOPer David Frum’s page on The Daily Beast:

Mother Jones’ David Corn published a devastating story today: video of Mitt Romney explaining his belief that all America’s poor and working class citizens will reflexively vote for Barack Obama. As my headline suggests, the language was Randian, and the political sensibility vacant.


[W]atch this now if you haven’t seen it elsewhere because political media will be having 20 heart attacks about it tomorrow and you’ll want to be up to speed. This was recorded awhile back at a fundraiser, just like Obama’s infamous “bitter/clinger” comments in 2008. Remember how big that blew up? That’s how we ended up with President McCain.

The dirty little secret of most “controversial” political statements is that voters pay them little mind, especially when they’re preoccupied with bread-and-butter issues. The GOP spent three days in Tampa hammering Obama for the “you didn’t build that” line and a fat lot of good it did them in vaulting Romney past O in the polls. Then again, the GOP didn’t have a media megaphone like the one that’s going to be amplifying this for the rest of the week.

Crooks and Liars’ Karoli:

Please do take note of what Willard thinks of “entitlements.” Because this is what wealthy people think about people who actually do pay more of their income as a percentage into taxes — sales taxes, payroll taxes, and other taxes they have to pay to live and get by.

-The American Prospect:

[T]the quote marks the formal capture, as it were, of the Republican Party by Ayn-Rand Thought—that the world consists of makers and takers and that the true purpose of government should be to let the makers make and restrict if not outright eliminate the takers’ take. Add to this Romney’s assumption that Obama’s voters come overwhelmingly from the taker forces while his own supporters are the makers. It’s hard to understand how Obama has been able to raise so much money for his campaign if that assumption is correct, but it’s correspondingly easier to understand what underpins the Republicans’ attitude toward Medicaid and Medicare, in case there was any mystery about it.

To be sure, Romney was talking to his funders when he said this, and doubtless crafting his remarks to encourage them to pony up even more to his campaign. Even allowing for that, however, his comments should cause us to rethink the idea that Grover Norquist’s is the dominant presence in today’s GOP. Keynes famously observed that behind most politicians’s ideas, whether they know it or (more commonly) not, are the ideas of some dead economist. What’s behind the governing doctrine in today’s Republican Party are the ideas of some dead novelist and cult leader who never professed to be guided by empiricism. Today’s Republicans are a faith-based party, but not as the term is commonly understood. Their faith is Randian libertarianism—a belief that may sustain a novel, but has never yet sustained a country.

New York Magazine:

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……

Mother Jones promised, in words that can’t be welcome in Romneyland, that more excerpts from the video are coming soon.


…And if you thought the Romney campaign would be allowed to reset their campaign in a vacuum, you were mistaken. Romney has been knocked not just off-message but off the Earth’s axis by videos obtained by Mother Jones.

Will Bunch:

Can it get any worse for this guy? Ttue, Obama had an embarrassing video from talking to his super-rish donors released in 2008, and he still won. But I suspect that this time Romney voters will spend the next four years clinging to their guns and their religion.

Mario Piperni:

Talk about contempt. The assumption that anyone not earning enough to pay federal taxes must be a free-loading liberal, is another example of right-wing insanity. Apparently, inside the bubble there are no struggling conservatives…nor are there people who have worked hard their entire lives but find themselves struggling to make ends meet during difficult economic times…and Romney feels it’s not the job of president to “worry about these people.”

The Daily Telegraph blog:

But it’s hard to imagine an actual presidential nominee articulating it in this manner. Sure, Romney’s quote might contain a grain of truth. But it’s also cruel and fatalistic. The American Dream is rooted in the hope that someday we’ll all be rich enough to pay lots of tax (or own a bank account in the Caymans). To suggest that some folks will stick with their entitlements forever – that’s un-American. And Mitt makes it so much worse by suggesting that he doesn’t care about them, either: “My job is not to worry about those people.”

It’s likely that this video will really hurt the candidate. It will damage his likeability stakes even more, confirming an impression that he’s the candidate of the wealthy. Some will infer that those 47 percent are black or Hispanic and that he was making a racial point. More will retort, “Well, you don’t like like paying taxes either, Mitt!” Others will ask, “What else does he say when we’re not listening?” Bring back child labour? (Although Newt Gingrich called dibs on that one.)

Mitt Romney – you are a very frustrating nominee. The economy is unhealthy and the administration’s foreign policy is in doubt. And yet you have muddled what should be a predictable victory in November with gaffe, counter-gaffe and – now – a pre-gaffe.

I’m starting to wonder if Rick Santorum would have done better. At least he wanted fewer Americans to pay tax. That’s what populism sounds like.

Addendum: To clarify, the 47 percent that Mitt refers to are the number usually identified as not paying any tax. The number is false. They might not pay federal taxes, but they sure do pay sales, gas etc. Also, I don’t discuss Ron Paul here – which is unfair. He wanted to abolish the income tax, the IRS…

-Time’s Swampland:

In general, it’s not great for a presidential candidate to make unsympathetic generalizations about 47% of the U.S. population. It’s additionally problematic for Romney to whack them for paying too little in taxes when he’s declined to provide more than two years of his own returns and pledged to cut taxes for the middle class — some of whom presumably fall into the 47% Romney is denigrating.

Obama knows full well that views a candidate espouses in private can prove damaging; comments he made at a 2008 fundraiser about voters who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” dogged him for months. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, released a statement this afternoon that said: “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog:

The video surfaced on the same day the Romney campaign tried to reverse its recent slide in the polls by rededicating itself to a message of smaller government, lower taxes and fewer regulations. His top advisers kicked off the week with a Monday morning conference call to highlight this push, and Mr. Romney himself touched on these themes in a speech to small-business owners at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. However, the video gave critics fresh ammunition to paint Mr. Romney, a wealthy former private-equity executive, as a callous executive who doesn’t care about poor people…

…..In a Twitter post, former Obama spokesman Bill Burton, who runs a super PAC supporting the president, said, “Romney shows surprising venom here. Hard to imagine any other GOP nominee speaking like this, even privately.” An official with the Obama campaign, speaking of the video, said, “This is obviously a significant moment, and you can expect to hear more about it.”

Over the course of the campaign, Mr. Romney has been forced to answer for remarks that critics deemed insensitive, from his quip last year at the Iowa State Fair that “corporations are people” to his remark to CNN earlier this year in which he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor” – he later said he misspoke.

The candidate also tends to be more candid in closed-door sessions than he is on the stump when reporters and television cameras broadcast his every remark. During an April fund-raiser in Florida, the candidate outlined tax breaks he’d eliminate to pay for his across-the-board tax cuts on individuals and businesses.

-Financial Times:

The incident was reminiscent of a secret recording of Mr Obama before the 2008 election, in which the Democratic candidate told donors that some small town voters in were bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”.

The development was more bad news on a difficult day for the Republican campaign. Top advisers spent the morning trying to persuade anxious Republicans not to panic against the backdrop of disappointing polling data and reports of infighting among Mr Romney’s campaign staff.


There’s a lot here, but the main problem for Romney is that he goes even further than Perry in his critique of the people who don’t pay income taxes. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” he says. “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. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.” And they’re hopeless. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Got that? Romney is conflating the people who pay no net income tax with the people so dependent on government aid that they have to vote for Obama. But these aren’t the same people! Most of the “lucky duckies,” to use the classic WSJ term, are old people who subsist on Social Security. Elderly voters broke big for Republicans in 2010. Scores of poor whites who benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit vote for Republicans.

So Romney’s conflating two concepts. One is that people who pay no net income taxes don’t understand the “cost” of government. The other is that the socialist Democrats are voting themselves back into power by creating a poorer, more dependent electorate — one that gets by on food stamps and unearned welfare checks. This is Tea Party rhetoric churned into something new and stupid.


The BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says that this may prove to be a significant setback for Mr Romney, who has been relentless characterised by his political opponents as privileged and out of touch.

skippy (who writes in lower case)

apparently parts of this video have been floating around youtube for a few weeks, but david is the one that brought it into mainstream media.

things just aren’t going well for romney. on top of the mean girl politico piece, which gossips that his campaign is in tatters (she-dooby), romney is not going to win over any undecided voters who hear what he really thinks of them.


You realize that he’s talking about around a hundred and fifty million people, don’t you? He’s literally saying that nearly half the country is a bunch of parasites.

…I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a presidential candidate with more contempt for the American people than Mitt Romney. It’s one thing for a candidate to attack his opponent, but to attack half he country as a bunch of losers you don’t have to care about is just unprecedented. He’s obviously as much a believer in twisted Randroid tropes as his chosen VP.

And as I’m listening to Chris Matthews and his panel go on about how Romney is a captive of his base and doesn’t really believe what he’s saying (not regarding this video specifically) I can’t help but wonder why he’d say the following in private amongst a bunch of rich donors like himself if he didn’t believe it: