At a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed that most supporters of President Barack Obama -- and nearly half of Americans -- believed they were entitled to government handouts and didn't take responsibility for their lives.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in video recently obtained by Mother Jones. "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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."
Romney told the wealthy donors that to win in November he had to convince 5 to 10 percent of independent voters. He suggested he would ignore poor voters, who he implied were lazy and could not be swayed without promises of handouts.
"These are people who pay no income tax," he continued. "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that is what they sell every four years. And so my job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Nearly 47 percent of households didn't owe federal income taxes because their incomes were too low or because of tax breaks in 2011. But the majority of those households still paid other federal and state taxes. Most of those who did not owe any federal income taxes or payroll taxes in 2011 were elderly, disabled or students, according to the Center for Budget Priorities.
Watch video, courtesy of Mother Jones, below:
UPDATE: Obama and Romney campaigns respond to video.
Obama's re-election campaign quickly condemned Romney over the leaked video.
"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," said Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager. "It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation."
Romney's campaign later attempted to dismiss the video, insisting that the Republican presidential candidate wanted to help the poor.
"Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," Romney spokesperson Gail Gitcho said in a statement. "As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney's plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs."