'Palestinians don't want peace' - Romney
Republican Mitt Romney's reeling campaign hit more trouble today after a new video clip surfaced showing him saying that Palestinians do not want peace and a resolution of their conflict with Israel was not possible.
"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way," Mr Romney said in the secretly recorded video of a closed-door May fundraiser in Florida.
The clip was shot at the luxurious home in Boca Raton, Florida, of Marc Leder, a private equity executive.
The camera appears to have been hidden behind a marble-topped sideboard and shows Mr Romney addressing at least half a dozen people who are sitting eating. Waiters, some wearing white gloves, serve the guests.
The video unleashed a fresh wave of criticism from some Republicans who were already frustrated by Mr Romney's failure to capitalize politically on a struggling economy and a high 8.1 unemployment rate.
William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, called Mr Romney's comments "stupid and arrogant." David Brooks, a conservative columnist in The New York Times, said he did not appear to understand American culture.
"It's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney," Mr Brooks wrote. "He's running a depressingly inept presidential campaign."
The images are the second from a video of the event that was published by liberal magazine Mother Jones. Mr Romney was already in damage control from the first, which showed him describing President Barack Obama's supporters as victims who are too dependent on government and unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives.
"It's not elegantly stated. Let me put it that way," Mr Romney said at a hastily arranged news conference in California to respond to his latest stumble on the campaign trail.
The Obama campaign leaped on the video and declared the Republican candidate to be elitist and out of touch with most Americans, who will vote in a presidential election on November 6th.
"I'm sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that," Mr Romney said. However, he did not back away from his comments and said it was a message that he would continue to carry.
"Frankly, my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them and therefore I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as those in the middle," he said.
"This is really more about the political process of winning the election and of course I want to help all Americans have a bright and prosperous future and I'm convinced that the president's approach has not done that and will not do that," Mr Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor, who took just three questions from reporters, also denied that he has a different campaign theme for his donors at closed events than he does publicly for the broader electorate.
"This is the same message that I give to people," he said during the news conference, which was pulled together so quickly that it was not carried live on cable television, and some reporters had to run to it from a nearby hotel. "I hope the person who has the video would put out the full material, but it's a message which I'm going to carry and continue to carry."
About 46 per cent of US households would not pay 2011 federal income taxes because of deductions and exemptions, particularly breaks for low earners and the elderly, according to a report released last year by the Washington-based Tax Policy Center.
Many of those people still pay other taxes, including the federal payroll tax and state and local levies, according the report.
The video emerged less than a week after Mr Romney was criticised by Democrats and some Republicans for his remarks chastising the Obama administration's handling of the attacks on US diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya.
Mr Romney was also faulted for a gaffe-plagued overseas trip in July, during which he upset the London leaders of the 2012 Summer Olympics by questioning their security arrangements.
A nationwide poll released on September 14th by CBS News and the New York Times showed Mr Obama with a three-percentage-point edge among likely voters, and surveys in battleground states have shown him with larger margins.