Romney defends calling 47% lazy, dependent
COSTA MESA, Calif., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defended remarks rejecting nearly half of Americans as lazy people who think they deserve government handouts.
The blunt remarks at a private fundraiser in May were "not elegantly stated," Romney told reporters in a hastily called Monday night news conference in Costa Mesa, Calif., where he was attending a fundraiser. But they addressed "a question about direction for the country," he said.
The question is, "Do you believe in a government-centered society that provides more and more benefits? Or do you believe instead in a free-enterprise society where people are able to pursue their dreams?" he told reporters.
"We have a very different approach, the president and I, between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams," Romney said.
In the video, posted online by Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, Romney says, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president, no matter what.
"All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement -- and the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what," Romney says in the video.
"These are people who pay no income tax," Romney says. "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. So he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that's what they sell every four years.
"And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other, depending upon, in some cases, emotion -- whether they like the guy or not."
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday: "When you're president of the United States, you're president of all the people."
"What unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us," he said.
Romney casts doubt on peace in Mideast
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- A videotape of Mitt Romney shows the Republican presidential candidate casting doubt on the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a portion of an address at a private fund-raiser in May, posted online by the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, Romney speaks more pessimistically about peace between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East than he normally offers in public, CNN said Tuesday.
"I'm torn by two perspectives in this regard. One is the one which I've had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish," he says in the video.
When addressing a "two-state solution" with an independent Palestinian state adjacent to Israel, Romney said, "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."
In public, Romney has voiced his support of a two-state solution, CNN noted, including in a July interview on the news network.
Pa. voter ID law sent back to lower court
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Tuesday ordered a lower court to hold a hearing on whether voters have adequate access to photo IDs under a new state law.
The law provides that those who cannot show the proper form of identification at the polls may cast provisional ballots, and would then have six days have to produce a voter ID or their votes would not be counted, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The high court voted 4-2 to return the issue to the lower court, and said if the lower court holds the law is being implemented in such as way as to ensure all voters have access to the required photo ID, the law can stand, but if not, the law would be overturned.
Pennsylvania, carried by President Barack Obama in 2008, appears to be a swing state this year. Mike Turzai, majority leader of the state House of Representatives, told a meeting of fellow Republicans this year that the stringent voter ID law would allow Republican nominee Mitt Romney to carry the state.
Opponents of the law asked the high court to grant an injunction that would keep the law from being implemented for the November election.
David Gersch, representing the challengers, told the court Pennsylvania has not allowed enough time to ensure all voters who require it get photo ID, and said the law's backers have produced no instance of in-person voter fraud.
A lawyer for the state said the law as written conflicts with federal regulations on government-issued photo ID. But he said the state has created a new class of photo ID that could be used for a single purpose -- voting.
Cutback ordered in U.S.-Afghan joint ops
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The NATO commander in Afghanistan has ordered cutbacks in U.S. troops' joint operations with Afghan military and police forces in reaction to "insider attacks."
The order from U.S. Gen. John R. Allen resulted from commanders' conclusion that the attacks have undermined U.S. trust in local Afghan allies, as well as concerns that U.S. troops are increasingly exposed to the possibility of attacks associated with Muslim anger over an anti-Islam video, The Washington Post reported.
A suicide bomber killed 14 people in Kabul Tuesday, bringing to 28 the number of deaths officials link to unrest over the video.
In Egypt, a post on militants' websites said a cleric issued a fatwa, or religious pronouncement, calling for the killing of anyone involved in the video debasing the prophet Mohammad, which was produced in the United States, The New York Times reported.
The deaths in Kabul were the first in the country tied to the "Innocence of Muslims" video, authorities said. Officials have cracked down on attempted demonstrations, and blocked Internet access to Google products, including YouTube, where the video was posted.
A suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden car into a minibus apparently carrying foreign workers Tuesday morning, killing all 12 people in the minibus and two people on the road, police said.
The Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for the video.
"We claim credit for the attack by a martyrdom-seeking mujahid, an 18-year-old girl named Fatima, from Kabul, and the attack has been conducted in response to the film insulting the Prophet Muhammad and Islam," Hezb-e-Islami spokesman Zubir Siddiqi told the Times by telephone.
The nationalities of the foreigners weren't immediately known, but French soldiers were seen at the blast site, witnesses said. The Times said it seemed the victims were Westerners based on their clothing.
Access to YouTube also was blocked in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
Officials said at least 28 people have been killed in six countries as a result of the video, the Times said.
The violence began Sept. 11 with an organized attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three staff members. Subsequent protests at Western embassies claimed one life in Egypt, one in Lebanon, three in Tunisia and five in Yemen.
The orders are a departure from the longstanding U.S. strategy to prepare Afghan forces to assume responsibility for the nation's security after U.S. troops withdraw in 2012, the Post said.
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