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WASHINGTON (AP) — Already scrambling to steady a struggling campaign, Republican Mitt Romney confronted a new headache Monday after a video surfaced showing him telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support. He added that as a candidate for the White House, "my job is not to worry about those people."

At a hastily called news conference late Monday, Romney conceded the comments weren't "elegantly stated" and that they were spoken "off the cuff."

President Barack Obama's campaign quickly seized on the video, obtained by the magazine Mother Jones and made public on a day that Romney's campaign conceded it needed a change in campaign strategy to gain momentum in the presidential race.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in a video posted online by the magazine. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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."

"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said.

Romney said his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney's campaign did not dispute the authenticity of the video, instead releasing a statement seeking to clarify his remarks. "Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said. "He is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government."

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.

Obama's campaign called the video "shocking"

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

An Obama adviser said the Democratic campaign might use Romney's comments from the fundraising video in television advertisements. The official wasn't authorized to discuss campaign strategy publicly and requested anonymity.

Romney's 2010 federal tax returns show he paid a tax rate of about 15 percent on an annual income of $21 million. The vast majority of his income came from investments, which are taxed at a lower rate than wages. His wealth has been estimated as high as $250 million.

Democrats have tried to make an issue of what Romney pays in taxes and what he is willing to divulge about his taxes and investments. While he has released his 2010 tax returns and a summary of his 2011 returns, he has rejected calls for releasing as many as 10 years of tax returns. His campaign has pledged to release his complete 2011 returns before the election Nov. 6.

The private remarks are the latest in a string of comments from the multimillionaire Republican businessman whom Democrats have criticized as out of touch. During the primary campaign, Romney insisted that he was "not concerned" about the very poor, said he knew what it felt like to worry about being "pink-slipped," and said that his wife drove a "couple of Cadillacs." Aides to Obama's campaign said the latest video would help them continue to make the case that Romney doesn't understand the concerns of average Americans.

Voters say they believe Obama has a better understanding of their problems and concerns than Romney does. A CBS/New York Times poll showed 60 percent of likely voters said Obama understands the needs and problems of people like them, while 37 percent said he did not. For Romney, the same question found that 46 percent felt he did understand people's needs, 48 percent said he didn't.

The remarks came at a closed-door fundraiser that Mother Jones reported occurred after Romney had clinched the GOP nomination. To protect the identity of the person who provided the remarks, Mother Jones blurred out the video and did not provide the date or location of the fundraiser. Romney formally clinched the nomination May 29 and formally accepted it last month at the Republican convention in Tampa.

Many of the Americans who owe no income tax are reprieved because basic exemptions — such as the "standard deduction" — took their taxable income below the cutoff levels. The other half rely mainly on a variety of tax breaks, such as the credit that helps offset child care costs.

These Americans range from the very poor to solidly middle-class families with jobs, homes, cars and vacations. The Tax Policy Center says "relatively few nontaxable households" have incomes exceeding $100,000; families that make between $50,000 and $100,000 often owe no income tax because of breaks for their kids and for education.

Americans who pay no federal income tax still often pay an array of other taxes. They include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, sales taxes, property taxes and state and local taxes.

A handful of extremely wealthy families do not pay federal income taxes. This summer the Internal Revenue Service reported that six of the 400 highest-earning households in America owed no federal income tax in 2009.

Still, many are low-income Americans. According to the August 2010 AP-GfK poll, a majority of Americans who make less than $30,000 a year are Democrats. But 27 percent identify as Republicans, and 15 percent say they're independents. About 57 percent say they will vote for Obama, while 38 percent back Romney. About 43 percent identify themselves as conservatives.

Obama faced a similar moment in the 2008 campaign, when he told donors that many Americans who are angry about their struggles "cling to their guns or religion."

Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, made reference to that remark Monday at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa.

"I remember that one time when he was talking to a bunch of donors in San Francisco and he said people like us, people from the Midwest like to cling to their guns and religion," Ryan said.

Ryan went on: "And I've got to tell you this Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged and proud to say so. That's just weird. Who says things like that? That's just strange."


Associated Press deputy polling director Jennifer Agiesta in Washington and Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Los Angeles, David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, and Charles Babington, Philip Elliott and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.


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10 thoughts on “Romney: Nearly Half ‘Believe They Are Victims’

  1. Just want to be free of pain on said:

    Heres the funny part hes 100% correct……he knows……his party and his business dealings put us there,,,,,,dont fault the man for being honest…….. Fault him him for being late…………………………….Obama 2012

  2. hoodtechiee on said:

    Damn right, I’m a black American male and I see it everyday. In my neighborhood, on public transportation, with my friends an even in my immediate family. Always thinking someone owes them something, and for what because as they put the government is suppose to that’s what they are for. Who cares how it’s paid for as long as they get theirs. So mitt keep telling the truth, it hurts them believe me and you definitely have my vote in 2012,sh*#@ has to change. I’m tired of busting my hump paying into a system that I won’t be able to reap benefits from, damn right 47% don’t pay taxes and will vote for anyone that is a democrat especially in the black community.

  3. After hearing and seeing this video people in America should be convinced who should be POTUS.It’s a no brainer.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!!

  4. You are obviously one of the people who feel that because they may be comfortable and not need assistance, everyone should be able to do it. If you listen to Romney, you should know that he would do away with Social Security for our elderly. He would also do away with foodstamps for hungry children and poor adults. He thinks that everyone should be able to become rich like him. Most of the entitlements he speaks of these people will need. Should they just die off because of being Americans that receive checks?

  5. MilaJay93 on said:

    So I guess I shouldn’t hope for the government to support me when I graduate from college and can’t find a job? Or when I try and get my first crappy apartment? Or when I try to buy my first crappy car? I guess I shouldn’t even seek their support when I hope to get Link to afford groceries. *There really needs to be a font for sarcasm*

  6. Mitt has done it again!! He’s showing us that lies he is telling to his rich buddies, will let the common Americans knows that he will not help them, if he is elected President.
    OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. africanwarrior on said:

    Amateur, Liar, Tax Cheat . Will be exposed by Obama even more during debates
    Case Closed.
    One Thing Left to do , Vote ,Vote ,Vote Obama in 012

  8. I don’t depend on government, but i will get mine, especially when the Republicans cast us into such a hellish economic situation that my hours got cut and some of us got laid off due to massive budget cuts. Do more with less. That’s Republican ideology. Well, then how am i supposed to manage with less hours? Government better do something because there are no jobs you stupid idiots!!!

  9. Freedoms Choice on said:

    There is some truth to what he is saying. There are people like that. But you can’t make that kind of generalization. That is up there with all black people or lazy and on welfare. He does not have our best interest at heart. I would rather my tax money go to the poor people who feel entitled than to the rich who feel entitled to only pay 13% taxes when I have to pay 25%.

  10. ishlah1971 on said:

    If we are not supposed to depend on our gov’t, then why pay for said gov’t.

    This gov’t is SUPPOSED to be BY the people and FOR the people. I was a part of a massive lay-off in 2010, and for the 1st time in my life had to get on unemployment. After working 19 years, paying into this system you better believe I applied for whats mine.

    So from all his comments I take it, if he wins the election, they will be closing IRS and all state/local tax offices. Wont be needong any taxpayer monies as they will not be here to help any citizens. I would be more than happy to hang onto the extra 14% of my check that they take.

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