Romney struggles after secret video

Mitt Romney's campaign is under pressure after a secret video of him insulting Democrats was released.

US presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - Republican Mitt Romney struggled on Tuesday to steady his reeling White House campaign after a secretly recorded video showed him dismissing President Barack Obama's supporters - almost half the country's voters - as victims who are too dependent on government

The video from a closed-door fundraiser in Florida in May sparked a new wave of criticism of Romney's gaffe-plagued presidential bid and raised questions about his ability to come from behind in the polls and win the 6 November election.

In the clip, the first portion of which was published on Monday by the liberal Mother Jones magazine, Romney tells donors that 47 percent of Americans will back Obama no matter what and "my job is not to worry about those people."

He said they did not pay income taxes and were people "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."

Obama criticised Romney for writing off a big segment of the American electorate.

"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" in New York. "My expectation is if you want to be president, you've got to work for everybody, not just for some."

The video was shot at the luxurious Boca Raton, Florida, home of Marc Leder, a private equity executive who hosted the $50,000-per-person fundraiser.

The camera appears to be hidden on a marble-topped sideboard and shows Romney addressing more than half a dozen people who are sitting eating. Waiters, some wearing white gloves, serve the guests.

Romney also told the donors that Palestinians had no interest in pursuing a peace agreement with Israel and achieving a separate Palestinian state would not be 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," Romney said.

The video unleashed a new wave of criticism from some Republicans who were already frustrated by Romney's failure to capitalise politically on a struggling economy and a high 8.1 unemployment rate.

William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, called Romney's comments "stupid and arrogant." David Brooks, a self-described "moderate conservative" columnist in The New York Times, said Romney did not appear to understand American culture.