Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admitted his comments captured on hidden camera at a fundraiser earlier this year were "not elegantly stated," but did not back away from the broader point he was trying to make.
In the video, which leaked Monday, he is seen telling donors that 47 percent of voters are "victims" reliant on handouts and will support President Obama regardless. Last night, Romney called his remarks "off the cuff" but wouldn't disavow them.
"It was not elegantly stated, I'll put it that way," Romney said, noting that he was merely talking about the "political process of drawing people into my campaign."
"I'm speaking off the cuff in response to a question, and I'm sure I can state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that," he added.
However, "It's a message which I carry and will continue to carry."
Asked what he meant by the word "victims," Romney tried to cast the remarks as simply accentuating the differences between his campaign and Barack Obama's.
"My campaign is about helping people take more responsibility and becoming employed again, particularly those who don't have work," the challenger said.
"Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more or do you believe in a free enterprise society where people pursue their dreams?"
The full text of Romney's remarks from the clip appear below. Do you think this will hurt his campaign? Leave a comment and vote in our poll: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. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
U.S. Presidential Election 2012: