(USA TODAY) - Mitt Romney said Monday night he stands by his message in a secretly taped video, in which he is heard saying that 47% of Americans will vote for President Obama because they are "victims" and "dependent upon government."
In brief remarks to reporters, Romney said his comments were not "elegantly stated" and "spoken off the cuff" during a fundraiser months ago.
But his point, he said, is that Obama relies on the government to help people while his approach is rooted in free enterprise. Romney said tonight Obama's approach is "attractive to people who do not pay taxes."
USA TODAY's Gregory Korte reported earlier this evening that the video and reaction to it blew up as Romney tried to reset his campaign, amid polls showing he is trailing Obama.
Jonah Goldberg, writing in the conservative National Review Online, derisively described the response like this:
To read many of the reactions on Twitter, you'd think Mother Jones had just found video of Mitt Romney strangling a hooker with her own pantyhose.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina called Romney's taped comments "shocking."
The video was obtained by the magazine Mother Jones, which said it came from a source who shot the video at a donor event at the Boca Raton, Fla., home of Marc Leder, a private equity manager.
Here is one of Romney's quotes from the video:
"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% 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."