Romney insults 47% of America: is it all over for Republican?
'Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth,' says Romney in leaked video from fundraising event
MITT ROMNEY'S presidential campaign appears to be in meltdown after the release of a video in which he says that 47 per cent of the electorate will vote for President Obama because they are "victims" and "my job is not to worry about those people".
He also said they were "dependent upon government" and paid no income tax.
Given the speculation over Romney's own tax history, this last slur is being seen as the most damaging.
The video (below) was published on the website of liberal magazine Mother Jones yesterday. In it, Romney tells a room of 30 of his biggest fundraisers: "There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what.
"There are 47 per cent 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 healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.
"They will vote for this President no matter what. These are people who pay no income tax... My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Later, Romney says: "Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth." He also jokes that he would stand a better chance of winning the election if he were born in Mexico.
Following the release of the video, which was reportedly filmed at the Florida home of private equity millionaire Marc Leder in May, Romney called a press conference at which he pretty much stood by his remarks.
"It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff," he said. But he insisted, contrary to the sentiments expressed in the video, that he wanted to help all Americans.
Whether he will get the chance was looking doubtful this morning, according to some commentators.
In a piece for Bloomberg titled 'Today, Romney lost the election', Josh Barro says: "This is an utter disaster for Romney."
Barro goes on: "Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are. This video provides an answer: He feels that you're a loser. It's not an answer that wins elections."
The Independent's Guy Adams is more guarded, saying it is too early to tell whether the so-called '47 per cent video' will have an effect on the polls. "But the portion of Americans who do not pay income tax includes many elderly voters, most students, and the vast majority of the recently unemployed. They pay plenty of other taxes, and may now think twice about supporting a candidate who dubs them 'freeloaders'," he writes.
It is one of many reports to focus on the question of who among the 47 per cent pays tax of any kind. Such questions are dangerous ground for Romney, who has been criticised for failing to release details of his tax affairs prior to 2010.
The Guardian says that "the issue of how much [Romney] himself paid in taxes will resurface, with calls for him to release his tax returns beyond the two years he has volunteered".
The Washington Post believes that even if the video is not fatal to Romney, "it's impossible to see how Romney's comments don't dominate the political conversation for the next 48-72 hours - and maybe longer".
And that virtually ensures a second straight week lost to off-message stories (the others were his views on the attack on the US consulate in Libya and a leaked memo about polling).
"Wasting two weeks when there are only seven weeks left in a race that even the most loyal Republicans acknowledge they are currently losing - albeit it narrowly - is a major problem for Romney.