September 18th, 2012
07:53 PM ET
2 years ago

'Anatomy of a leak' of the Mitt Romney video

Washington (CNN) - Mitt Romney's latest campaign nightmare started four months ago. Hard as it is to believe, sometimes the stormiest campaign controversies take a while to make their way into the maelstrom.

On May 17th, at a fund-raiser in Boca Raton, Florida attended by donors who paid $50,000 a plate, Romney was asked how he's going to convince voters that they need to take care of themselves – instead of relying on the government. In one of those unvarnished moments, which high-rolling donors pay a lot of money to witness, Romney said nearly half the American electorate will vote for President Obama, no matter what. But he didn't stop there, and Mitt Romney may wish he had the next few seconds back.

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"There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government," Romney said, "...who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

At the same event, Romney also said the Palestinians don't want a two-state solution, and joked that he'd have a better chance at the White House if he had been born to Latino parents. But it was the "47 percent" remark which analysts say could be very damaging to Romney's campaign.

Romney quickly called a news conference after the video, and an accompanying article, were posted Monday on the website of the liberal magazine Mother Jones. Romney defended the message, saying the election is a choice between big government and personal responsibility.

But he acknowledged, "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. 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."

How did a videotape made four months ago become something so potentially damaging to Romney's campaign?

Parts of the video were posted in drips and drabs at first, mainly as blurry video and audio-files, on YouTube. In mid-August, the 'Mother Jones' reporter, David Corn, was put in touch with the source, the person who Corn says videotaped Romney and posted it online. Corn won't reveal who that source is. By last week, Corn verified the videotape was legitimate, then posted it this week on Mother Jones. This account was given to CNN by Corn himself.

The middleman who got Corn together with the source: James Carter IV, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. David Corn says Carter had done research for him in the past. On his Twitter account, Carter describes himself as an "oppo researcher," "political junkie… currently looking for work."

"I've been doing this pretty much full time", Carter told CNN's Anderson Cooper, "..and I guess I do it for work and also for fun, so if someone would pay me for it that would be great."

"He obviously has his own agenda and - trying to damage the Romney campaign and without James Carter IV, this clearly wouldn't have happened," says Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and Washington bureau chief for 'The Daily Beast.'

David Corn says the person who videotaped Romney told him they weren't affiliated with any campaign, and didn't go in with the intent to infiltrate the Romney camp.

The fund-raiser who hosted the event in Florida is Marc Leder. The Sunlight Foundation, a campaign finance watchdog group which focuses on fund-raisers, says Leder has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates from both major parties.

"He's with a company called Sun Capital. I think they've managed about eight billion dollars worth of investments. So he comes from the same industry. Actually that's how he got into private equity, from meeting Mitt Romney", says Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation.

CNN called and e-mailed Leder repeatedly, to ask who the person was who videotaped Romney at his home. We also wanted to know who else was at the fund-raiser. Leder's representative would only issue a statement acknowledging that he hosted a fund-raiser "for a friend" in May.

CNN has also repeatedly tried to get the Romney campaign to say who they think videotaped Governor Romney that night. We have gotten no response.

Also see:

- Eastwood: If they were 'dumb enough to ask me…'

- In new tape, Romney casts doubt on peace in Israel

- Obama camp wastes no time highlighting Romney tapes

- Hatch might 'die before his term' ends, opponent charges

- Biden on Romney tape: 'words speak for themselves'


Filed under: 2012 • Fundraising • Mitt Romney
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. myviewis

    What are the odds that this person is somehow tied to President Jimmy Carter's grandson????
    "The middleman who got Corn together with the source: James Carter IV, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter"

    Nevertheless, Romney has said to show the video in its entirety and than people will know what he was talking about.

    September 18, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    It is called "devious". The Dems thought it would really be damaging, so they have been saving it, expecting to get a lot of mileage out of it.

    Backfired. The tape simply tells the honest truth, in a simple way.

    September 18, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    Romney defended the message, saying the election is a choice between big government and personal responsibility.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    And this is a significant part of what American voters will decide in November. But don't be foolish enough to believe there are many people who will absolutely use their vote to try and get as much out of the US government as they can. I know plenty of people who certainly have this perspective." I'm better off the more I can get someone else to provide for me and the US federal government has an endless supply of resources so the more I can get out of it the fairer things will be.". It's odd that so many people think this is what the government is all about, but they truly just don't know any better. They may have caught some tough breaks in life and the way to even things up is to identify who it is that can share the riches of the government and keep them in office. In spite of the fact that life has gotten tougher over the last 3 1/2 years, Obama says he's the great provider for the little guy and that's good enough, huh.

    September 18, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. gar

    Nice job James Carter IV! Keep up the good work.

    September 18, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. Craig RB

    Those donors should get their money back.

    September 18, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  6. hangar13

    "Elections have consequences – and I won." Barack Obama explaining why Republicans were allowed no inut into any of the legislative or executive agenda during the first half of his term. Translation – "Screw the (ironically) 47% of the people who didn't vote for me." Why no outrage over his statement? And why the feigned outrage at Romney's statement? Basically he said that people who don't pay taxes are unlikely to be swayed by the argument for tax cuts. Pretty hard to find fault with that reasoning. Given the record numbers of people who are dependent on government (more than ever before on food stamps, more than ever before on disability, 106 million households with at least one person getting government assistance) the dependent class only needs a few Useful Idiots to join with them to ensure a permanent Democratic majority and a certain path to the same fate as Greece.

    September 18, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  7. ronb

    Wow! If you don't pay taxes because you work and receive an earned income credit because your job pays minimum wage I hope you're not a republican. Willard insulted you and MILLIONS of other people just like you....and seniors, veterans, and young men/women fighting for us all over the world!!! And the GOP wants this guy to be president?! Laughable.

    September 18, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  8. Hiway

    It doesn't matter who taped it. What matters is that Romney cannot deny it. His true feelings and what he will do as president finally leaked out of his own mouth. This is the Bain Corporation guy who taught other corporations how to outsource jobs overseas. Great American we've got here.

    September 18, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    The twit got busted. Period. End of story. The guy is not ready for prime time.

    September 18, 2012 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    Does Mitt Romney think people back away this Vedic??? Is this guy justifying his stance on what he said about American Middle Class?? Do they excuse this guy and vote for this Bain-Capital??? I do not think so.

    September 18, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. Name w.bullock

    I'm belived that before presdient obama was leak at white house so please people need stop blame to mitten alright
    Obama has runied it end of story at middle east and 33 countires

    September 18, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  12. T'sah From Virginia

    Okay Mittens, since you don't care about the 47% of Americans who are VICTIMS and MOOCHERS and don't pay any taxes, why don't you take this time to show the American people YOUR taxes so we can see what YOU paid!!

    Romney just succeeded in reopening the can of "WHOOP ASS" on taxes!!! Now, and for the next two months, the American people are going to DEMAND to see his taxes for the past ten years!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!

    September 18, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  13. Ancient Texan

    Romney did nothing wrong except tell the truth and that's a no-no for a politician. He needs to get on that point every day along with the dismal condition of the economy and the total lack of leadership we've had for the last 3 1/2 years.

    September 18, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    It couldn't have happened to a worse person. First the rnc klan convention was a flop. The chair won hands down. He goes on the attack while our embassy and ambassador, three Americans and the guards at the embassy die and now this.
    In one sweep he insults 47% of the population of the US (turns out he is one of us because during the primary he said he didn't pay income taxes for the last two years), he insults latinos because he is really not Mexican (I wonder what the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce folks in CA have to say about that or polygamy), his solution to the Iran (I believe) problem is to kick the ball down he field and hope nothing happens and he has no idea what a dirty bomb is!!
    Yes, we need to this guy to lead us and the free world . . . . .into oblivion!

    September 18, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  15. Indy

    There is some truth here if you really think about it, Mitts job is to worry about the 1% only and that is why the bazillionaires have trying to purchase the Whitehouse for Mitts and therefore Mitts job description does not say anything about helping the poor or middle class. Mitts has always portrayed that he only cares about the 1% so there is truth here,not pretty for most Americans but Mitts was hired by people to run as President and he is just doing what his bosses tell him to do.

    September 18, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  16. Name lee

    If Romney win, WWIII. No better than Bush.

    September 18, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. Mack J.

    It matters not who leaked the videotape, it matters what Romney said in the videotape. Even if Ann Romney had leaked it, that would not change what he said!

    September 18, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  18. TheTraveler

    Good Bye Mitt. We'll miss the "Joke of the Day" when your campaign is over and your gone from the political limelight.

    September 18, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  19. The Myth

    I agree with Rommie for the most part. When a group of people can get away with getting FREE hand outs from the government, they tend to get lazy, and EXPECT to continue on the gravy train. They have no motivation to get off, and that's Romney's point. If Obama is they guy who is going to give them these freebies, why vote for Romney? They have absolutely no incentive to change. Which goes against EVERYTHING Obama claims to offer. CHANGE. Eventually the U.S. will end up just like California.....BROKE.

    September 18, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  20. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If he doesn't like this amount of people depending on the government, why hasn't he started non-profit that would take over for the government to make sure that these people don't need government assisstance?

    September 18, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. SM McMahon

    Who cares who video-taped Mitt; they did a public service.

    Mitt's words uttered at his private, $50,000/plate fund-raisers should match his representations to voters.

    September 18, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. spockmonster

    The 47% don't pay income tax not because they are "dependent on the government", but because that large of a percentage of the workforce is paid poverty-level wages. Meanwhile, the corporations are sitting on trillions and trillions of dollars while pretending they are strapped for cash. These corporations are the people to whom Romney holds allegiance.

    September 18, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. Dustie

    Ah, President Carter's unemployed grandson, bitter about the way his grandfather, the worst president ever in the US, has been remembered. I would think it illegal to tape someone without their knowledge. I guess that wouldn't bother him or whoever taped Romney. To consider the quote though, it's not bad! It's true that many who receive government assistance are going to believe Obama's assertions that they will lose the assistance if Republicans win. Not so. Romney is talking about campaign strategy, not disparaging those people who are less fortunate. If he felt that way, he and his wife would not have been active all their lives in volunteer work to help them. The media is using this to divert attention from Obama's getting four Americans killed by not providing security for them. That is worse.

    September 18, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  24. davecu

    " Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It
    can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the
    public treasury."- Alexander Tyler

    September 18, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  25. Jen

    It's my job NOT to vote for you Romney. Hopefully after seeing this, the american people will see that he DOSEN'T care about the poor or middle class.

    September 18, 2012 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
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