Romney fundraiser videos leaked

September 17, 2012

Bits and pieces of a private fundraiser held by Mitt Romney have been leaked to Mother Jones magazine, exposing some blunt talk from the Republican candidate on voters, his campaign and American society. 

In one video, Romney argues that it's not "my job" to win over the 47 percent of voters committed to President Obama, because they are "dependent on government" and he will "never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The author of the Mother Jones story told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Monday night that the fundraiser was held on May 17, at a private residence in Boca Raton, Fla.

"Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in response to the video. "As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government."

While it's true that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax, most of those people pay payroll taxes. Those that pay neither are overwhelmingly elderly or making less than $20,000 a year, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis. Low income people also pay state and local taxes

In another clip, Romney explains that he doesn't vilify Obama because focus groups of independents who supported the president in 2008 show it doesn't work. "[W]hen you say to them, 'Do you think Barack Obama is a failure?' they overwhelmingly say no," Romney revealed. "They love the phrase that he's 'over his head.'"

Romney also muses about how touring a Chinese factory with Bain Capital made him realize how lucky Americans are. In another, he jokes that he would have a better shot at winning the election if his grandparents had been Mexican. The China clip has already been highlighted by the Obama campaign as evidence that the Republican candidate is an outsourcer. A Bain source told ABC News that the firm did not buy the factory. 

The anonymous videographer told the Huffington Post that he or she has given a full video to Mother Jones but blacked out details to obscure the location of the event. 

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina blasted Romney's comments in a statement. "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," he said. "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”

Candidates tend to talk more freely at closed-door fundraisers than they do publicly, and when those remarks leak out to the media, they can create trouble. In 2008, President Obama told a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion" -- a quote that is still being used against him. Earlier this year, NBC News overheard Romney at a fundraiser discussing Republicans' problems with Hispanic voters more frankly and his tax policy in more detail than he does on the trail.

Read more from PostPolitics

Read excerpts from the leaked Romney fundraiser videos

Wonkblog: Romney's '47 percent' doesn't add up

The Fix: Romney's rock and a hard place moment

The Take: How Mitt Romney can bounce back

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · September 17, 2012