Romney taped at secret donor talk

17 September 2012 Last updated at 20:46 ET Mitt Romney speaks at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce The Romney campaign says it is shifting strategy to focus more on his policy plans A secretly filmed video showing Mitt Romney appearing to disparage Barack Obama supporters at a private donor dinner has been published online.

The US Republican nominee is shown saying he could not win votes of 47% of people who do not pay US income tax.

“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he says.

In a statement, his campaign said: Mitt Romney “wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy”.

But the statement did not dispute the authenticity of the video, which was published by liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones.

“As the [former Massachusetts] 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,” spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.

Earlier, Mr Romney’s campaign unveiled a significant reworking of its strategy less than two months before election day.

Campaign advisers told the US media on Monday that Mr Romney would speak more on his specific policy proposals in the coming days and weeks.

Until now his message to voters has largely consisted of repeated attacks on President Barack Obama’s economic record.

‘No matter what’

The Mother Jones video is said to have been filmed at a private fundraiser at some point after Mr Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee.

Its picture is blurred out with the exception of Mr Romney’s face, and no attendees are visible.

Continue reading the main story The income tax segment is one of several clips posted online, in which Mr Romney expands at some length on his approach to the upcoming election, and how his campaign will take on President Obama.

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Mr Romney is seen saying, referring to the percentage of Americans who have no income tax liability.

“There are 47% 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. “

Mr Romney is later seen saying that his campaign has not been as harsh on Mr Obama as possible, because the president remains likeable and because of a desire to win the support of his otherwise disenchanted former supporters.

“Because they voted for him, they don’t want to be told that they were wrong, that he’s a bad guy, that he did bad things, that he’s corrupt,” he says, referring to independent voters who chose Mr Obama in 2008.

“Those people that we have to get, they want to believe they did the right thing, but he just wasn’t up to the task.”

The Obama campaign was quick to seize on the videos.

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

The BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says that this may prove to be a significant setback for Mr Romney, who has been relentless characterised by his political opponents as privileged and out of touch.

Campaign divisions?

The videos bookended a difficult 24 hours for the Romney campaign. On Sunday, a lengthy Politico story detailed apparent divisions and indecision within the campaign.

That was followed by a public revising of campaign strategy on Monday morning.

“We are not rolling out new policy,” campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said, “So much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here’s how we are going to get them done and these are the specifics.”

In that vein, the campaign released an online ad on Monday that discusses his economic plan. Advisers say the campaign will now speak more specifically his budget plans and tax policy.

A series of opinion polls at the end of last week showed Mr Romney trailing Mr Obama both nationally and in several swing states.

The two men square off in the general election on 6 November, but early voting begins soon in several states.

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