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 and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

Junior SQL DBA (SQL Server 2012, T-SQL, SSIS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior SQL DBA...

C# Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, MVC-4, HTML5) London

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Web Develop...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution