Mitt Romney says half of Americans are immoral parasites who think they’re ‘victims’

The scoop seems to belong to David Corn of Mother Jones,SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters“:

During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. 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…These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney goes on to say that such moochers can never be convinced “to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So with the release of this video, it seems Mitt Romney has shifted from worrying that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him to ensuring that 47 percent of the country would never vote for him.

Josh Marshall tries to make sense of this, saying “Mitt seems to string together a handful of really distinct conservative talking points — and in a way that makes you think he just heard them in a fragmentary way and pasted them together without any clear sense of what he was saying.”

It is true that President Obama has enjoyed the steady support of about 47 percent of the country throughout his first term. It is also true that if you add up everyone who’s retired, still in school or working poor — i.e., people who don’t owe federal income taxes — that this is also about 47 percent of the country. (Or, rather, it peaked at 47 percent following the 2008 financial crisis.)

But it’s really weird to suggest, as Romney does, that this is the same 47 percent.

Last time I checked, there were plenty of senior citizens who are also Republicans. And those folks don’t take kindly to being told they’re “dependent” on government, or that they’re whiny moochers with a sense of entitlement.

No one likes being accused of that. Not senior citizens, not students, not the working poor. Not Democrats, or Republicans, or Independents.

Ari Kohen wonders why Romney even wants to be president: “Why would you want to be president of a country when you hold almost half of the citizenry in utter contempt?”

Josh Barro thinks the “combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him” will be politically disastrous.

Ed Kilgore wonders what will be more harmful to the Romney campaign: “the video … or the ‘Hell yes!’ reactions to it from the rawer elements of the conservative chattering classes.”

“Romney’s theory of the ‘taker class,'” Ezra Klein says, is “core to his economic agenda.” The idea that America is divided between “makers” and “takers” isn’t true, Klein writes, but “Behind this argument, however, is a very clever policy two-step that’s less about who pays taxes now and more about who is going to pay to reduce the deficit in coming years.”

Conservative Ramesh Ponnuru agrees that Romney’s “makers vs. takers” idea is false. It is also, he says, bad politics: “most people don’t see themselves in that storyline, any more than they see themselves as dependents of the federal government. They don’t see Americans as divided between makers and takers.”

Ryan Chittum has some good background on the roots of Romney’s rehash and mishmash of the old “lucky duckies” canard.

Ta-Nehisi Coates says Romney’s remarks remind him “of Lee Atwater’s famous explanation of the Southern Strategy.”

Coates ends on an unexpectedly hopeful note. “When the party of white populism finds itself writing off half the country,” he writes, “we are really close.”

Charlie Pierce is less hopeful. Now that Romney has “declared a class war on himself,” Pierce says, “There’s really only one campaign left to him now”:

Unfortunately for American politics, that means only one thing. It’s going to get extraordinarily dirty extraordinarily fast. There is going to be pale birtherism and barely covert racism. The body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens is going to be exhumed and used as a bludgeon. There is going to be poor-baiting, and gay-baiting, and ladyparts-baiting, and probably baiting of things I haven’t thought of yet. The polite part of the campaign is going to be Romney’s effort to convince You that he was really talking about Them when he was calling people moochers and sneak thieves. He wasn’t talking about Your Medicare or Your Social Security. Naw, he was talking about Their greed for what You have. That’s going to be the polite part of the rest of the campaign, reinforced in the lower registers by a few million in ads to make sure You remember who They are.

The full video of Romney’s remarks at the fundraiser may not be as initially damaging as his disdainful comments about the entitled moochers who think they’re victims, but as more of the speech receives attention, the rest of it won’t be good for Romney’s campaign either.

Romney’s rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East, for example, won’t likely win him many votes. Particularly when he outlines his idea of foreign-policy leadership: “We have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

Romney isn’t about “hope and change.” He’s about “hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen.”

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  • The_L1985

    If my parents still vote for Romney after this, it is going to be really hard to ever speak to them again.

  • Jessica_R

    Mitt Romney does not think people are entitled to food. 

    Mitt Romney, does not think people are entitled to food. 

    Mitt Romney, does not think in the richest nation on Earth, people are entitled to food. 

    Mitt. Romney. Does. Not. Think. People. Are. Entitled. To. Food. 

    That is all. 

  • AnonymousSam

    I endorse being a taker. Specifically, I endorse Taker tombstoning this nincompoop into the pavement a few times — it might improve his disposition. Honestly, what kind of a disgusting, greedy inbred lowlife do you have to be in order to utter words like this, and then unapologetically wave them away as “just the kind of thing that slips out when I’m just talking with fellow businessmen” and think that makes it all right?

  • Figs

    Do we figure this actually hurts him? That is, are the Republicans who are in the 47% aware enough of their status in the 47% to be offended by this?

  • LL

    I’d like to think (and I really would) that this actually will result in something of a landslide victory by Obama, but the election is still a couple months away and America is filled with idiots who agree that 47% of Americans (or some similar, equally ridiculous number) pay no taxes. Or that the percentage who “depend on the government” are going to vote for Obama, and the (presumably hard-working and virtuous) 53% who pay taxes and don’t depend on the government are going to turn out for Romney. People believe this stupid shit. They already believe so many other stupid things, this isn’t even a problem to them. It’s just numbers. So what if they’re bullshit numbers? They’ve already established that they have their own facts. 

  • Do the taxes Mitt has paid cover the costs of unemployment and food stamps for the workers who lost their jobs thanks to him? 

  • I figure the silver lining to this horror is that it will motivate liberals who might have felt just a little bit too assured of a victory to go out and vote, not that it will actually change the mind of any conservative.

  • Figs

    I agree. Earlier in the process, my wife and I felt like Romney would have to play hard to the right to win the base but was probably deep down a pretty reasonable guy, who would govern to the right but would be more inclined than, say, Gingrich or Santorum, to do the right thing in the case of a crisis.

    I no longer think that’s even remotely the case.

  • For me, it just crystallizes the fact that he is a HORRIBLE politician.  We have a lousy employment rate and a fairly shitty economy right now.  Sure, both are getting better and sure, neither of these things are directly Obama’s fault, but C’MON, Mitt!  You want to blame the poor and unemployed when you could be trying to win them to your side.


  • vsm

    And to think Marie Antoinette had her head cut off simply for recommending cake.

    (Yes, I know she didn’t really say that)

  • Stone_Monkey

    The choice for US voters this November is between The Guy Who Thinks People Shouldn’t Eat and The Other Guy… That pretty much boggles the mind.

  • banancat

    Just a few weeks ago Romney was bragging that he pays a lower tax rate than people who make far less than he does.  And now he’s turning around and accusing others of being leeches.  It’s not even flip-flopping, just complete and utter hypocrisy.

  • depizan

    I thought the McCain/Palin campaign was terrifying.  Romney seems to be going out of his way to prove himself the most terrifying major candidate in my lifetime.  Grats, Mitt, you’re doing a marvelous job of proving that there are real people just as vile as your average one dimensional villain.

    What’s his next move?  To follow his declaration that nearly half of Americans are worthless and not entitled to food (food, really?  WHAT THE EVER LIVING FUCK!?) with the declaration that when he’s elected, he’ll make sure they don’t get any?  I mean, this really sounds like setting up to pull every single government program that helps people (while, I’m sure, leaving in place every government program that helps business, because what really matters?).

    Maybe he’s just talking out his ass.  I hope he’s just talking out his ass.  But if he’s not… 

  • I posted this elsewhere; I feel it bears repeating:

    I have always thought it rather … I’m not sure of the word, but consider that animals other than humans don’t have to pay for food. And plants. They grow in the ground and get free food and energy too.

    The sheer ridiculousness of assigning chits of paper value to necessary sustenance, such that there are people who are then committing a crime by eating

    And then to have people like Mitt Romney come along and basically put the boot in along with a hefty heel grind.


  • Daughter

    Another outrageous thing Romney said in this meeting: that the economy would get better by his election without him doing anything at all. The magic of the markets would just respond positively to his victory.

  • Daughter

    I have been trying to share this far and wide:

  • Daughter
  • Figs

    How are there undecided voters again? Can someone remind me? Are they all people who have recently been hit in the head with bricks?

  • PJ Evans

    Mitt. Romney. Does. Not. Think. People. Are. Entitled. To. Food.

  • PJ Evans

    Mitt Romney’s election strategy is turning out to be ‘Open Mouth. Insert foot. Keep inserting foot until it’s visible at the other end.’

    WTF, dude, didn’t they teach you anything in those expensive and exclusive schools?

  • PJ Evans

     There aren’t many real undecided voters at this point. Some may change their minds before the election, but most people have it sorted out already.

    You know the GOP is in trouble when people who don’t like the president, for good reasons, are going to vote for him anyway, rather than voting for someone who seems to live on a different planet.



  • depizan

     Whaaat?  &^%^$#$#^%&*!!!!

    Sarah Palin was less disturbing than this dude.

  • Launcifer

    Thing is, news outlets in the United Kingdom (three, to be precise: Sky News, the BBC and Channel 4) are reporting that tickets to this shindig were $50k a pop. We’re talking about a hefty donation with a complementary sandwich here. How many wealthy undecided voters are really going to throw that kind of money away on a plate of food and a speech from a man who comes across as semi-literate at best?

    Moreover, if you’re shelling out that kind of cash in the first place, you aren’t exactly going to want to sit in a room with two hundred other people: you’re going to want to pretend you’re part of the privileged inner circle that makes and breaks nations. That means they’re likely dyed-in-the-wool bastards to begin with, so this is really about shoring up support amongst the guys (and I wouldn’t be suprised if they were all men) who are going to help bankroll the campaign.

    In short, Romney’s not really there to win new friends. The people in the room are likely to vote for him because he’s wearing their gang colours and, given this, I doubt he really needed to self-edit. That leads me to the horrifying conclusion that he meant every single word of it.

    Christ on a bike, but this guy’s within farting distance of the arsehole of reality.

  • Figs

    Agreed, about undecideds. Everything I’ve read places true undecideds somewhere in the low single digits. Most people who say they’re independents vote in as reliably partisan a manner as those who claim partisan affiliation.

    But in this case, the news has been deafening, and the choice is stark. I can’t imagine how even 3-5% of people are still having trouble making up their minds.

  •  Probably not. The pundit circuit is already Crowing about how they can finally make this campaign about producers-vs-parasites.  The spin is “If you vote for obama, that means you are a parasite. You don’;t want to be a parasite, do you?” and the hope is that enough of those eldery people, students, the unemployed, members of the military, poor people dependent on government subsidies will say “Yeah *I*’m not one of those freeloaders!” and vote for Team Money. (The cited article actually has the pundit in question say that they’re banking on voters knowing the difference between those who are “unemployed through no fault of their own due to Obama’s disasterous policies” and the “real” parasites — preemptively trying to spin it as “No no, we didn’t mean *you* even though you pay no income tax and liveoff of federal benefits. We mean those *other* freeloaders”)

  • Isabel C.

    Yeah, I don’t even. Like, there are responses that I could possibly make in re: breaking down that speech, but I’m still in the stage of “…he said what? No, seriously, he *said*…but I…but he…people don’t…” and bleeding from the eyes.

    I admire the people who’ve actually addressed the thing, because damn.

    To paraphrase Wayland Smithers, Romney has crossed the line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy. 

  • Nequam

    That is, are the Republicans who are in the 47% aware enough of their status in the 47% to be offended by this?

    Either a) no; b) if they are they still think they properly paid into the system and all those Others are the freeloaders; c) a and b.

  • Figs

    True, true. Though the innumeracy still stuns me. I mean, Mitt quite clearly says, “This 47% is the same as this other 47%.” To go from that to say, “Yeah, you’re part of the 47% with no net federal income tax liability, but for some reason you don’t count, presumably along with many, many more in that 47%” seems like a tough tightrope act, don’t you think? Once they start conceding that some of that 47% come by their lack of federal income tax liability honestly, it won’t be hard AT ALL for the Obama campaign to come up with identical examples who support the President.

  • Fifty thousand dollars

    Fifty thousand dollars

    Fifty thousand dollars

    *jaw unhinges*

  • Figs

    I’d maybe even dig one step deeper into the combination of a and b. I think that many people probably realize that they have a non-zero total tax burden. That is, they pay payroll taxes and state and local income taxes, etc. I can’t say with certainty, to be sure, but my feeling is that a lot of these people who have no net federal income tax liability do not realize it because they still have a non-zero total tax liability.

    In other words, my suspicion is that the number of people who don’t believe they’re in that 47% is much larger than 53%.

  • badJim

    Just in case anyone has missed the racial undertone of his remarks, there was also this:

    Describing his family background, he quipped about his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.”

    Because Latinos get everything handed to them for free?

  • Carstonio

     In fairness, today Obama attended Beyonce and Jay-Z’s fund-raiser where the attendance cost was $40,000. I strongly doubt, however, that this event’s featured speaker was peddling a Marie Antoinette economic philosophy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Do we figure this actually hurts him? That is, are the Republicans who are in the 47% aware enough of their status in the 47% to be offended by this?

    Given the correlation between how strong the Republican vote is in a given state and how much the state’s citizens give or receive, net, from government, I think the answer to your second question is–probably not many.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Christ on a bike, but this guy’s within farting distance of the arsehole of reality.

    Launcifer, I just want to say that I found this entire sentence construction to be delightful.

  • Romney’s actual campaign speeches are not as gaffe-filled, but they are delivered at a frequency normal human beings can not hear.

    THey mostly just go “I’m white” over and over again.

  • Launcifer

    That’s true – and the price of both tickets is frankly appalling. I mean, seriously… how can anyone take that much as a single contribution and claim not to have been bought?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Because Latinos get everything handed to them for free?

    Because the only reason Obama got elected was that he’s a racial minority. Not that people thought his policies and leadership were superior to McCain’s; people just vote for minorities over rich late middle aged white dudes to show how morally superior they are.

  • Launcifer

    Thankee. I should probably admit to having had it all ready to go for years now. I’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity ;).

  • Carstonio

    I’m a big proponent of publicly funded campaigns, capping contributions at $25 or so. 

  • Joshua

    I gotta say, this is hilarious. I can’t wait to find out what he says next. And nearly half of you USAians are going to vote for this bozo? You can’t make this stuff up.

    Next week on the Mitt Romney Show:

    “Balance the budget? I can’t even balance a chequebook! I have people for that.”
    “Voters are shitheads, and paying taxes is for chumps anyway.”
    “Eh, screw you guys, I’m going home!”
    “My first act as President of these United States of America will be to declare nucular war on the Unites States of America!”
    Sorry, chekbook.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Technically, given recent trends in turnout, something like a quarter of American adults are expected to vote for this bozo.

  • D-X

    I’ve heard the black church leaders were starting to advise their attendees to not vote because omggaymarriage and omgmormon

    But this if nothing else proves Romney is explicitly racist and will not hesitate to throw minorities under the bus if it means reinforcing and reinstating power structures that give whites an easier ride of it than anyone else.

    Given that, I think it’s more like

    Reasonable current President who understands the challenges minorites face



  • Joshua


    Now, now, be fair.

    The devil’s competent.

  • depizan

    Though Romney does rather resemble Ellanjay’s Antichrist.

  • Lori


    Do we figure this actually hurts him? That is, are the Republicans who
    are in the 47% aware enough of their status in the 47% to be offended by

    Possibly and no. GOP voters already think Romney was talking about Them. (The comments at some of the more charming Right Wing sites was just lovely, let me tell you.) This may be the thing that convincing a few of that tiny group of true undecideds not to vote for him, but that probably won’t make much difference. But there are two ways this can, and quite likely will, do him real damage.

    First, he’s now lost all but the most craven members of the chattering class. I mean David Brooks has turned on him. If he can’t hang onto Brooks he’s done with anyone who has any actual integrity (and isn’t drunk). Having the pundits cut you loose 7 weeks out is not good.

    Second, this is likely to be a big old slab of red meat for Dem GOTV efforts.  Democratic enthusiasm has been a bit better since the conventions, but this could light a real fire under folks who might otherwise not have been inclined to volunteer, or even bother to vote. For example, if I was working for Elizabeth Warren or Sharrod Brown I’d be getting an ad together ASAP. Both of them have strong progressive cred and are appealing to the beleaguered middle class. More than a few of those folks joined the 47% after the 1% cratered the economy and I doubt that many of them will look kindly on being called lazy moochers. I sure at shit don’t.

  • Lori


    Maybe he’s just talking out his ass.  I hope he’s just talking out his ass.  But if he’s not… 

    I honestly don’t think he is. A commenter on another blog pointed out how much more fluid and relaxed his delivery is on that tape, talking smack about the poor to other rich people, than it ever is when he’s speaking to a crowd that includes the hoi polloi. That tape is the real Mitt Romney.

  • depizan

    That tape is the real Mitt Romney.

    And that frickin’ scares me.

  • badJim

    Craig T. Nelson: “I’ve been on welfare and food stamps…did anyone help me?”

    Mitt Romney: Contending that he is a self-made millionaire who earned his own fortune, Romney insisted, “I have inherited nothing.” Apparently he made it through prep school and Harvard entirely on his own. It’s entirely irrelevant that his father was the head of American Motors and the governor of Michigan.

    Those who haven’t had the pleasure of viewing “Mitt Romney: A Human Being Who Built That”, a brief video from the Daily Show narrated by Leonard Nimoy, ought to indulge themselves immediately.

  • Lori


    The pundit circuit is already Crowing about how they can finally make this campaign about producers-vs-parasites.     

    The part of the pundit ciruit made up of known hacks (Matalin), known evil & stupid people (Erick Eriskson) and folks known to have a highly questionable connection to reality (Althouse). Most of the rest have bailed. Bill Kristol is criticizing Romney for craps sake. It’s not like Bill is a decent human being so when you’re over his line you’re over the line.

    I think “He didn’t mean You, he obviously meant Them.” will really only work on the people who were going to vote for Romney any way, no matter what, because he has the (R) next to his name and/or due to his pleasing lack melanin.