Behind closed doors, Mitt Romney sounds like the leaders of the far-right flank of his party. That’s the central message from a video purportedly taken during a Romney fundraiser earlier this year and posted online by Mother Jones Monday.
The Obama campaign called the clip “shocking.”
In the clip, which was recorded surreptitiously at a Romney fundraiser that “occurred after Romney had clinched the Republican presidential nomination,” according to Mother Jones, Romney tells a room full of donors that people who voted for President Obama — a full 47 percent of the country — are dependent on the government.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, 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,” Romney said, according to the Mother Jones transcript. “That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax.”
The notion that virtually all Obama voters depend on government handouts has strong support within the right wing of the Republican Party. On Friday, former Family Research Council President Gary Bauer made the idea a highlight of his speech to the Values Voter Summit.
“They will vote for their own perceived interests, which is they don’t want anybody cutting back the size of the checks,” Bauer told TPM at the summit.
Romney has for months claimed publicly that Obama is trying to create an “entitlement society.” He said in August that Obama was trying to “shore up his base” with welfare reforms Romney says will eliminate the work requirement for benefits (it won’t), but he hasn’t gone as far as Bauer in public. The Mother Jones video suggests he has gone that far in private.
“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,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement. “It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”