with audio reporting by Luis Giraldo – WUFT-FM
Mitt Romney made headlines for all the wrong reasons early this week.
Private remarks made during a private fundraiser in Boca Raton in May of this year have recently been released thanks to a secretly filmed video. The statements paint an awkward discrepancy between what Romney says in his “stump speeches” and what he says behind closed doors.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said. “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.”
Stafford Jones, the chairman of the Alachua County Republican Party agreed with the facts that Romney stated.
“The top earners pay most of the income taxes, so many Americans don’t have anything at stake in the system,” Stafford said. “Maybe he could have said it better, but it wasn’t factually incorrect.”
Will this affect Romney’s campaign?
“Republicans who are leaning Romney are gonna think this is another ‘gotcha’ moment by the media, and Democrats who are leaning toward Obama will think it’s the truth and it’s really gonna hurt him,” said Susan Macmanus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida.
“The problem is you don’t know the context in which the conversation took place,” Macmanus said. “More and more people are probably going to tune into the debates, so they can hear something longer than a 30-second sound bite.”
MotherJones, the website responsible for releasing the earlier video, released the full remarks from Romney’s event in Boca Raton. The 49-minute speech should give plenty of context to what he was directly referring.
The dinner was a $50,000-per-plate event held at the home of Marc Leder, a private equity manager of Boca Raton. There is no public list of who attended the dinner, but there is a list of Florida-based donors who donated $50,000 between May 1 and May 17.
Late Monday night, the Romney campaign held a press conference to respond to the remarks.
“It doesn’t capture the question so I don’t know precisely what was asked but I think it was about my campaign and how I would be able to get a majority of voters to support me,” Romney said. “By the way, whoever has released the snippets would, I would certainly appreciate if they would release the whole tape so we could see all of it.”
“At a fundraiser you have people say, ‘Governor how are you going to win this?’ And so I respond, ‘Well, the president has his group, I have my group. I want to keep my team strong and motivated and I want to get those people in the middle,’” said Romney, in response to a journalist’s question about the difference between his fundraising speech and his speeches on the road. “That’s something which fundraising people who are parting with their monies are very interested in knowing can you win or not and that’s what this was addressing.”
On Tuesday morning, MotherJones released the entire video, per Romney’s request.
Romney talked with Neil Cavuto of Fox News on Tuesday afternoon.
Most of his remarks defended the facts and figures that he mentioned a his private speech.
“We go after every group for votes,” Romney said.
He said he “understands that some portion (of the votes) will be the President’s,” but did not try to clarify if he thinks he offended 47 percent of Americans.
Sami Main edited this story online.