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A secretly filmed speech showing Mitt Romney belittling President Barack Obama’s supporters at a private fundraiser earlier this year has been published online.
The Republican nominee is shown saying he would not win the votes of 47 percent of people who do not pay income tax.
"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," Romney said in the video which was posted on Monday on the website of liberal investigative magazine, Mother Jones.
"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he adds.
His campaign issued a statement saying Romney "wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy".
However, the statement did not dispute the authenticity of the video.
"As the [former Massachusetts] governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.
The video is believed to have been filmed at a private donor dinner after Romney emerged as the likely Republican nominee in April.
Democrats jumped to take advantage of the incident. "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, said in a statement.
The release of the tape comes after the Romney camp on Monday fought off reports of division and conflict within his inner circle.
That was followed by a public revision of campaign strategy.
"We are not rolling out new policy…So much as we are making sure people understand that when we say we can do these things, here's how we are going to get them done and these are the specifics,” campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said.
The video is likely to hit Romney in the opinion polls, which currently show the Republican trailing behind Obama both nationally and in several swing states ahead of the November 6 general election.