WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney’s reeling campaign hit more trouble on Tuesday after new video 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,” Romney said in the secretly recorded video of a closed-door May fundraiser in Florida.
The images are the second from a video of the event that was published by liberal magazine Mother Jones. 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.
Romney held a Monday night news conference in California to try to contain the damage from the video but did not back away from the remarks about Obama supporters, which raised fresh questions about the competence and direction of his campaign to boot Obama from the White House.
“It’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way,” Romney said. “I‘m speaking off the cuff in response to a question.”
The video capped a difficult two-week period for Romney, who has fallen slightly behind Obama in opinion polls, taken heavy criticism for a hasty attack on the president during assaults on U.S. compounds in Egypt and Libya and faced a damaging Politico story about infighting in his campaign team.
Obama’s campaign team pounced to criticize the video.
“ It’s extremely troubling that you’re running to be the president of the United States but you’ve written off half of the country,” O bama campaign adviser Stephanie Cutter said on MSNBC.
The missteps overshadowed an effort by Romney’s campaign to roll out more policy specifics and a set of new TV ads to address rising criticism and worries from Republicans concerned he is losing ground to Obama.