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April 25, 2015

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Romney tries to get on track after video remarks


Charles Dharapak / AP

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is seen with Policy Director Lanhee Chen on their campaign plane as it flies to Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012.

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney sought to get his campaign back on track Tuesday after the revelation of a video in which he said nearly half of Americans "believe they are victims," are dependent on the government and bound to vote for President Barack Obama. The Obama campaign worked to spread the quotes to any voters who hadn't already heard them.

Obama himself headed for New York for an appearance on David Letterman's TV couch and a fundraiser with Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Romney planned no apology but was expected to respond to questions about the video by reinforcing the reaction he delivered Monday night: that Obama favors "a government-centered society" with people dependent on public support.

Obama's campaign, seeing an opportunity to build on its earlier efforts to cast the Republican as out of touch with average Americans, emailed a fundraising appeal to supporters and posted a video online asking voters to watch Romney's comments and respond.

"I actually felt sick to my stomach," one woman says in the web video.

Another woman says, "That's not somebody who I'm thinking, 'Oh, I want him as my president.'"

Romney advisers concede the video came at a bad time — seven weeks before Election Day and with early voting beginning in two dozen states by this weekend. They acknowledge the remarks may dominate news coverage for days but dispute the notion that Romney's comments could fundamentally change the election.

The unscripted moment was reminiscent of the 2008 campaign, when Obama was caught telling the wealthy wing of his party at a private fundraiser in San Francisco that some residents of depressed rural areas get bitter and "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."

In the Romney video, recorded at a Florida fundraiser in May, the candidate says 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes and believe they are entitled to extensive government support. "My job is not to worry about those people," he said.

After the video posted late Monday afternoon on Mother Jones magazine's website, Romney told reporters that while his comments were "not elegantly stated," he stood by his remarks.

"Those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government," Romney said in Costa Mesa, Calif., doubling down on his statement.

Romney running mate Paul Ryan focused on the limited-government argument while campaigning in New Hampshire, without mentioning the video. He mistakenly called it the "Ryan-Romney plan" for a stronger middle class before correcting himself and promising the two would put Americans back to work rather than encourage dependency on government.

A pro-Obama super political action committee quickly pushed up the air date for a new television advertisement in response to the video.

The ad, from Priorities USA Action, was previously shown online and never mentions the Romney video because it was produced before it became public. But the super PAC says it believes the ad's message serves as a counter to the Republican nominee's words and bought time to begin airing it as early as Tuesday on stations in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"Doesn't Mitt Romney understand we can't rebuild America by tearing down the middle class?" the narrator says. The group also is likely to start running new ads using Romney's words from the fundraising video.

Obama was told about the video Monday afternoon by staff traveling with him on a campaign trip to Ohio. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to say whether Obama had watched the video or to characterize the president's reaction to Romney's remarks.

"Setting aside what Gov. Romney thinks, I can tell you that the president certainly doesn't think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible or victims, that students are irresponsible or are victims," Carney said.

The president has not publicly commented on the video, but could do so Tuesday when he tapes an interview with David Letterman and delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. After that, Obama was set to collect nearly $4 million at a $40,000-a-ticket fundraiser at a Manhattan nightclub with husband and wife musicians Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Romney had no public appearances scheduled Tuesday and planned to raise money in Salt Lake City and in Dallas with former first lady Laura Bush at the Bushes' Texas home.

Looking to change the subject, Romney's campaign rolled out a new television ad featuring a mother and infant, aimed at cutting into Obama's advantage with female voters. It argued that Obama's economic policies would make women's lives harder.

In the video, Romney said 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. About 46 percent of Americans owed no federal income tax in 2011, although many of them paid other forms of taxes. More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

In the clip released by Mother Jones, Romney also is asked about the "Palestinian problem." He gives a rambling response, then says "the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace" and "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Los Angeles, Holly Ramer in Dover, N.H., and Charles Babington, Julie Pace and Philip Elliott in Washington contributed to this report.

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  1. First let me say, I think Romney believes most of what he says. He comes across sincere because he is. But the poor fellow just doesn't have a clue. He, like most of his peers, learned to patronize the less fortunate in the cradle. Now its a habit of belief and rhetoric. I'm reminded of an interview, a while back, of a BP exec who said (naively, I believe), "We always take care of and are mindful of the 'little people'."

  2. Mitt Romney comments honest comments. That is the way Mitt Romney feel about 47 percent of Americans. This is why the election is a clear chance. Clear differences in the message of Mitt Romney and President Obama.

    President wins in November by 6 to 8 points.

  3. The best thing Obama has going is the fact Romney keeps giving speeches.

  4. I can just see the video equipment security sweeps at all future fundraising venues for Romney. Will it be the duty of the Secret Service, or campaign staff? One on the government payroll dole, and the other paid for by campaign supporters.

    The topper may be the release of several years of tax returns hacked from Romney's accountants files, if in fact they were. The Secret Service and FBI are on the case.

    Could this be the October surprise to beat all October surprises? Or is it a hoax? Never an end to the entertainment factor.

    From the dog on the car roof, to his foreign policy trip fiasco, to his incredible premature politicization of a critical life-threatening diplomatic crisis, to his horrendous and insulting fundraiser dinner remarks, to his secret tax returns, to his havoc reaping European style austerity policies, to his predisposition for war, both hot and cold wars. No apologies! What a mess!

  5. Rusty57:

    And WHERE did you here these ads? And do you know what an EBT card is? If in fact you understood the whole commercial, which I doubt because of "selective hearing", this means the Fed Gov't is pushing people to go on food it is easy to do and everyone should do it.

    Because you are extremely biased, please provide the whole copy of this commercial or where it can be heard. Don't post things out of context. Maybe Carmine can do your dirty work; he's good at providing things.

  6. I just read that 1-2 minutes are missing from that tape. But somehow whatever is on that 1-2 minutes is not going to change the sincerity in the words Romney said. He believed in what he was saying and another sentence or two is not going to change that.

  7. As is appeared on SNL. Obama's secret weapon, Mittens Romney. He's a disaster!!!

  8. <<Kind of interesting all the teabaggers are avoiding this thread like a turd in a punchbowl>>

    Maybe most of them realized they are part of that "47%". If any of them are collecting Social Security and on Medicare - they are part of that "47%".

  9. Ah Rusty - the only brave one of his ilk to have the courage to post. Not much is said but at least he has the cajones to do it.

  10. Karl Rove is going to take out Mitt after Todd Akin suffers his "accident".

  11. Poor, poor Mittens...

    He's such a BAD liar.
    "I care about EVERYBODY!"
    "Look, I even got a terrible spray tan today so I could look 'darker' when I appeared on Univision; you know, so I could look more like 'those people' know, my Dad was a Mexican!"