September 18th, 2012
07:53 PM ET
10 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. bluejays

    Great story, so the grandson was bu77hurt and took revenge for his grandfather's failures... but this may just help Romney

    September 19, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  2. Henry

    Watch the was one of the catering staff that taped the event.

    September 19, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. bluejays

    Great story, so the grandson got mad and took revenge for his grandfather's failures... but this may just help Romney

    September 19, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  4. Thomas

    'Anatomy of a leak'

    Mitt Romney 2012 ?

    September 19, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  5. jbm66

    I guess Mitt Romney should condider himself part of the 47% who doesnt pay taxes....No wonder he is hiding his tax returns. What a disaster for the GOP....

    September 19, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  6. rosethornne

    "Speaking off the cuff" = accidentally said exactly what he means: he hates most Americans and thinks we are nothing more than worthless dog crap to be scraped off his handmade imported shoes.

    September 19, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  7. Lady Mabelyne

    President Carter has always been a hero of mine. What a wonderful family he and Rosylynn have given this world. God bless them always.

    September 19, 2012 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  8. Media Watch

    Romney has the balls to tell it like it is. Political correctness is for dishonest people. Let Obama have his political correctness, all it means is telling a lie when the truth is not convenient. If people are offended by the truth let them be offended, the truth is always going to offend people, but telling the truth also fixes problems that nobody else has the balls to talk about.

    September 19, 2012 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  9. DENNA

    We are victims – of GOP lies and spin. I assumed that you were referring to minorities. I don't think this country is 47% minority, so I guess you have disdain for middle and lower income white people too. I refused to believe for a long time, that you actually had no regard for other than rich people. Your simple statements prove otherwise. Everytime you and that idiot running mate of yours opens your mouth, President Obama looks better and better. We need a people's president and that is not you.

    September 19, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  10. njbchicago

    It figures. The grandson of President Carter, who used to be the worst President in my lifetime. Now it is President Obama. Well, even though Romney didn't say it very well, and I don't agree with the victim remark, HE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. 1/2 of this country is paying for federal programs for the other 1/2 of the country. Now, the President would say that is the 1/2 paying their 'fair share'. I say it is 1/2 living off of the other, not because they want to, but because OUR PRESIDENT HAS CREATED THAT! Go fish, grandson of President Carter, because that's what your grandpa ought to be doing. I lived under HIS economy where if you wanted to buy a house you had to pay 16% interest, gas lines, etc...... So, the source is a one of a long line of failure. How laughable! I love it.

    September 19, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  11. Name Johnson

    and we woulda got away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling kids.

    September 19, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |

    Mitt robme for potus of the 1%

    September 19, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  13. Dale

    The person who taped this is a coward and a lair or just a loyal democrat good chance they are both.

    September 19, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  14. oldbones24

    Romney shows his true arrogant self. What has happened to the Republican party?

    September 19, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  15. Mrs. Back

    Wondering why we are continuing to see coverage about Romney and his quote when US interests overseas are under attack? Also, where is the coverage on the President’s clip about his belief in redistributing wealth? What needs to be reported is the distinct difference between these two candidates and their beliefs that role government should have. I am a bit frustrated that in these last few days I don’t see the balance that I have seen on CNN, which is why I left another news station.

    September 19, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  16. Indy Pen Dent

    "Republicans are not a political party, it's a MENTAL condition..."...Jesse Ventura / Michael Bloomberg – 2016 !!!!

    September 19, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Bill

    What kind of SLIMEBALL makes secret tapes of private meetings? From what I've read, snippets which are out of context have been released to try to do as much harm as possible to Romney. It won't work. What he said is true and it's time people recognize it.

    September 19, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. GI Joe

    "Those People" and Ann's famous "YOU people" seem to be popping up.

    I thought this country consisted of US. Just saying............................................

    September 19, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  19. Mary Greene

    My mother always said to me, what is done in the dark will come to light. This is his true feelings and I just don't think he is ready for this position right now. He has not shown me "personally" what he is reallly about. I only know that he has a wife, five boys, and is rich and once was a governor for one term, I beliieve, and calls President Obama inam in every other sentence, and now wants to be president of USA for only half of the people and talks and acts stifflly.

    September 19, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Andrew Beatty

    It was probably a waiter , you could see a guy walk buy and kinda snicker. Romneys an out right liar through and through just youtube romney on blind trusts and see what he really thinks and you'll be shocked more so thatn this video.

    September 19, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Florida Mom

    This was a clear leak to divert attention from the Libya issue which has taken even the mainstream media.... I can't believe that Romney's comments (which I believe to be true) are more important than the Middle East. The President sleeps soundly as his Ambassador goes missing and being murdered and then leaves to campaign while embassies are being attacked in the Middle East and you are worried about what Romney said four months ago? Really?

    September 19, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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