Romneyshambles 2: And this time it's really serious for Mitt Romney...

First, welfare claimants. Now, Palestinians. Opinions exposed in a candid video may cost the Republican his dream

The Mitt Romney campaign was suffering an acute bout of electoral vertigo yesterday after the leaking of a video showing the candidate disdaining almost half the country as lay-about loafers he cannot "worry about" and writing off the search for Middle East peace as a fool's errand.

Coming at the end of a difficult stretch that has seen President Barack Obama pulling away in some polls, the video clips, first released by the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, triggered an uproar that could inflict long-lasting damage on Mr Romney's presidential hopes.

He apparently made the remarks at a $50,000-a-plate dinner at a donor's home in Boca Raton, Florida, in May. A 70-minute video made surreptitiously at the event was passed to Mother Jones; the middle man in the transaction was a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

At one moment, Mr Romney is heard to gripe: "There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. There are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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."

The comments veered into even more perilous territory perhaps when Mr Romney explained that 47 per cent of Americans pay no federal income tax. It was his job, he averred bluntly, "not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives".

While the assertion that nearly half of adult Americans do not pay federal income tax may be broadly correct, the full picture is more complicated. Many of those people pay other forms of taxes, including payroll, sales and property taxes. Some are excused from federal income tax because they are elderly and draw benefits from programmes into which they have paid taxes all their lives. And many may be Republicans.

No time was wasted by the Obama camp to use the clips to paint their opponent once again as cold and out of touch with ordinary Americans. "When you are President of the United States, you are President of all the people, not just the people who voted for you," said Jay Carney, the President's spokesman.

"The man who spoke these words – who demonstrates such disgust and disdain for half of our fellow Americans – is the other side's choice for President of the United States," a mocking fundraising email sent last night to supporters of Mr Obama proclaimed. "He wants to lead our country."

The comments on foreign policy may also spell trouble for the former governor of Massachusetts.

Most notable was a suggestion that Middle East peace was unattainable because the Palestinians are "committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel".

Dealing with the fall-out from the video may be the biggest challenge yet faced by the Romney campaign. A statement was put out soon after the first video footage became public and then, with only 15 minutes' warning, reporters travelling with him in California were summoned to a 10pm press conference.

"It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way," he said at the press conference in reference to the 47-per-cent remark.

"I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question." Speaking on Fox News last night Mr Romney did not back down and asserted he opposed redistribution of wealth by government calling it a "foreign concept".

While Mr Romney may have stumbled by conflating those receiving benefits or paying no tax with people who support Mr Obama – and by insulting them – the issue he raises is at the core of the ideological clash in this race, with Republicans arguing that, under Democrats, government is smothering America.

What Mitt said...

On 'the 47 per cent' There are 47 per cent of the people who vote for the President no matter what… 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… These are people who pay no income tax... So our message of low taxes doesn't connect… And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take responsibility and care for their lives...

On the Middle East Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace and... the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish. All right, we have a potentially volatile situation, but we sort of live with it, and we kick the  ball down the field and hope that, ultimately, something will happen and resolve it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee