Mitt Romney: it's not my job to worry about the poor

Secret video emerges of Republican telling rich donors that 47 per cent of Americans are 'victims who pay no taxes and will vote Obama'

Los Angeles

A day that was supposed to see Mitt Romney reboot his faltering presidential campaign ended in disarray last night, after he was caught telling a room full of wealthy donors “my job is not to worry” about attempting to appeal to poor people.

Hidden camera footage of the event, said to be a dinner attended by 30 of the Republican candidate's biggest fundraisers, saw him dismiss 47 per cent of Americans as freeloaders who "pay no income tax" and behave like "victims".

Watch the video above

Speaking in what appeared to be a hotel function room, Romney claimed that the overwhelming majority of voters who support Barack Obama's do so because they are "dependent" on government and "believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing".

"There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what, all right?" he said. "There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependant 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."

"They will vote for this President no matter what," he continued. "These are people who pay no income tax... 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 remarks are remarkable since Mr Romney gives few interviews and is usually highly scripted. At one point, he joked that he'd have more chance of winning the election if his father had been born in Mexico. At another, he spoke of being born "with a silver spoon". In a third, he admitted that the campaign would use his wife Ann "sparingly, so people don't get tired of her".

After being shared on the left-leaning Mother Jones website, videos of the event rapidly went viral last night. Mr Romney's spokesman did not initially comment, but Obama's campaign pounced on them as further evidence of Mr Romney's elitism.

"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," they said. "It's hard to serve as President for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

It was too early to say how the comments will effect voter sentiment. But the portion of Americans who do not pay income tax includes many elderly voters, most students, and the vast majority of the recently unemployed. They pay plenty of other taxes, and may now think twice about supporting a candidate who dubs them "freeloaders".

The snowballing scandal capped a day that had begun with Mr Romney insisting that there will be no changes to his inner circle, despite weeks of flat-lining poll numbers.

Staff had promised a "reboot" of his campaign, which until now has focused on attacking Mr Obama. Beginning with a speech to Hispanic business leaders in Los Angeles, aides promised that he would outline specific policy objectives that would define his first term in office.

Behind the scenes, that narrative was already muddied, however by talk of discord among his senior strategists. Late on Sunday, the Politico website published a gossip-filled exposé of alleged disarray within the Romney camp, in which "aides, advisers and friends" blamed a senior aide, Stuart Stevens, for their recent loss of momentum.

The Politico piece had alleged that Stevens was responsible for making a series of late changes to Mr Romney's underwhelming speech to the Republican National Convention. He was also blamed for failing to vet Clint Eastwood's bizarre performance at the event, where the 82-year-old actor held a rambling conversation with an empty chair.

"As the mishaps have piled up, [Stuart] Stevens has taken the brunt of the blame for an unwieldy campaign structure that, as the joke goes among frustrated Republicans, badly needs a consultant from Bain & Co to straighten it out," it read.

Stuart Stevens: Romney's 'mad professor'

Warm, approachable and slightly eccentric, Stuart Stevens presides over Mitt Romney's campaign with what friends and critics have described as a "mad professor aura". The 58-year-old has a colourful background, having skied to the North Pole and consulted on such Hollywood films as The Ides of March. Despite reportedly being Mr Romney's third choice as chief strategist, he has unprecedented responsibility, combining the role with that of chief ad-maker and chief speech-writer.

Guy Adams

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players