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New video on Palestinians spells more trouble for Romney



By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON | Tue Sep 18, 2012

(Reuters) – Already reeling from a secret video showing him deriding 47 percent of the U.S. electorate, Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign hit more trouble on Tuesday when new images surfaced in which he accused Palestinians of not wanting peace.

The videos, taken at the same closed-door fundraiser in Florida in May, have knocked Romney’s gaffe-plagued campaign even more off stride and raised fresh questions about whether he can come from behind in the polls and win the White House in November.

“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way,” Romney said in the latest video clip published by liberal Mother Jones magazine.

Romney was already in damage control from the first clip released on Monday, which showed him describing President Barack Obama’s supporters as victims who are too dependent on government and unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.

“There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney is heard saying on the video.

He also said the 47 percent did not pay income taxes and that “my job is not to worry about those people.”

The former private equity executive held a Monday night news conference in California to try to contain the damage, but did not back away from the remarks about Obama supporters, which have drawn sharp criticism from Obama’s camp and even some Republican allies.

“It’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way,” Romney said. “I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a question.”


The video capped a difficult two-week period for Romney, who has fallen slightly behind Obama in opinion polls, taken heavy criticism for a hasty attack on the president during assaults on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya and faced damaging news reports about infighting in his campaign team.

On the West Bank, Palestinians said Romney was wrong to accuse them of not seeking peace.

“No one stands to gain more from peace with Israel than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more in the absence of peace than Palestinians,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters. “Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace.”

Obama’s campaign pounced to criticize the video, but White House spokesman Jay Carney said he was uncertain if the president had seen it.

“When you’re president of the United States, you are president of all the people, not just the people who voted for you,” Carney told reporters. “The president certainly does not think that men and women on Social Security are irresponsible, are victims, that students are irresponsible or are victims.”

The leaked clips hit two of Romney’s perceived weaknesses: a lack of foreign policy experience and being out of touch with most Americans. Obama has opened up a small but consistent lead of about 5 percentage points over Romney in polls since the Democratic National Convention two weeks ago.

Reaction to the videos overshadowed an effort by Romney’s campaign to offer more policy specifics and issue a set of hard-hitting new television ads to address rising worries from Republicans about the direction of his campaign.

The clips come seven weeks before the November 6 election and just more than two weeks before the first presidential debate on October 3, which may be Romney’s best chance to change the direction of the White House race.

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in Washington and Jihan Abdalla in Ramallah; Editing by Alistair Bell and Doina Chiacu)

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