US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has come under fire after he was secretly filmed telling donors that Palestinians do not want peace. Romney also dismissed 47 percent of the US electorate as "victims."
Mitt Romney's electoral chance took a hit on Tuesday after further comments emerged from the secret video posted online by the left-wing magazine Mother Jones.
Romney was recorded telling donors during a $50,000-a-head fundraiser in May that Palestinians have "no interest whatsoever in establishing peace," with Israel. He added that the "pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish."
"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," he said.
His comments drew immediate criticism from Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erakat, who called them "absolutely unacceptable."
Romney was already dealing with a barrage of criticism over further comments released in the same video on Monday showed him branding 47 percent of Americans as freeloaders who would vote for a Democratic president "no matter what."
Obama rebukes Romney
In the clip, Romney said they are people who are "dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"My job is not to worry about those people," he said, adding that he has focused on the dwindling independent and undecided voters.
In a TV interview on Tuesday US President Barack Obama slammed Romney for "writing off a big chunk of the country."
"One of the things I've learned as president is you represent the entire country," Obama said on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman.
Although defensive, Romney stuck by his comments during a news conference on Monday night. He conceded that his words were "not elegantly stated," but added that Obama's approach is "attractive to people who are not paying taxes."
Recent polls have showed Romney is neck-and-neck with President Obama ahead the November 6 election.
ccp/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)