|US presidetial aspirant Mitt Romney [Photo: Reuters]|
A secretly filmed video has emerged showing Mitt Romney disparaging Barack Obama voters at a private donor dinner.
The Republican nominee is shown saying the 47% of Americans who back the president do not pay income tax and would never vote for him.
"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Mr Romney says.
In a late-night appearance, Mr Romney said his remarks were not "elegantly stated", but did not retract them.
"This is the same message I give to people in public," he said in response to the video, released by liberal investigative magazine Mother Jones.
Earlier, his campaign said Mr Romney "wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy".
"As the [former Massachusetts] governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work," spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.
The Obama campaign was quick to pounce.
"It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," Jim Messina, Mr Obama's campaign manager, said in a statement.
The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says that this may prove to be a significant setback for Mr Romney, who has been relentless characterised by his political opponents as privileged and out of touch.
Also on Monday, Mr Romney's campaign unveiled a significant reworking of its strategy less than two months before election day.
Campaign advisers told the US media on Monday that Mr Romney would speak more on his specific policy proposals in the coming days and weeks.