Mitt Romney, given some time on Fox News this afternoon to explain his comment about 47 percent of the electorate being politically out of reach to him, downplayed it as a remark about the state of his contest with President Barack Obama.
“We were of course talking about a campaign and about how he’s going to get half the vote and I’m going to get half the vote,” Romney said, adding he hopes it will be 50 percent-plus in his case. In his talk about the dependency of that 47 percent, he said he had been speaking about “a government-centered nation” and called it “the wrong course for America.”
Asked if he has “kissed half the electorate goodbye” in calling them “moochers,” Romney said he was speaking of people who don’t pay income taxes and aren’t likely to support him. “I’m not going to get them.”
At the same time, he said, “we go after every group we can to get votes.”’
Romney was appearing from Salt Lake City on Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” on Fox News Channel.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said at a private fundraising dinner in May — a portion of a video recording of that talk released only yesterday and the full tape published today. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them,” he said, adding that they “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it.”
“These are people who pay no income taxes — 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. Our message of lower taxes doesn’t connect,” Romney said. “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them.”
The Republican presidential nominee also said at that $50,000-per-plate May 17 fundraising dinner at a private equity executive’s home in Boca Raton, Florida, that the prospect of peace in the Middle East is “almost unthinkable.”
“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and I say there’s just no way,” Romney is heard saying in the secretly recorded video of the talk published by Mother Jones magazine. “What you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
Cavuto asked if the 47 percent not paying income taxes is too high.
“There are a number of retirees, members of the military and so forth who aren’t paying taxes, and that’s as it should be,” Romney replied.
“But I do believe we should have enough jobs and take-home pay such that people have the privilege of higher incomes that allow hem to be paying taxes. I think people would like to be paying taxes. The good news is if you’re doing well enough financially that you can pay a tax. And the problem right now is you see in this country so many people have fallen into poverty that they’re not paying taxes they have to rely on government and the right course to help them is not just to have government handing out but instead government helping people to get back to good jobs.”
Cavuto asked Romney what he knows about the source of the tape.
“I’m not too concerned about the source,” Romney said. “This is a meessage I am carrying day in and day out. We’ve seen the president’s policies play out over the last four years, and if people feel they are better off, I would say, `Look at the numbers… Look what’s happened to the number of people on food stamps.”’