Mitt Romney's campaign burst into full damage-control mode late Monday, after the liberal magazine Mother Jones posted a secret video in which the GOP presidential candidate writes off 47 percent of Americans as Obama supporters who pay no federal income taxes and are "dependent on government." (See the video below.) Romney says these people see themselves as "victims" and feel "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it," all courtesy of the government. "They will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in the video, captured in May at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Boca Raton, Fla., home of investment banker Marc Leder. "[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." Romney said late Monday that his remarks weren't "elegantly stated," and were merely an "off the cuff" attempt to contrast his "free-market approach" to Obama's "government-centered society." Obama aides said the president's re-election campaign might soon use Romney's comments in ads — a move that would mirror Republican attempts to exploit Obama's infamous statement during a 2008 campaign fundraiser that "bitter" rural voters "cling to their guns or religion." Of course, Romney's damaging "47 percent" comments surfaced as his campaign was already on the ropes. Will the "47 percent disaster" be the final blow that ends his hopes of reaching the White House?

Romney is finished: This video "has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president," says Josh Barro at Bloomberg. The uber-wealthy Mitt was already having a hard time "convincing people he cares about them." Now he has been caught on video essentially calling nearly half the country "hopeless losers." We've long been wondering what the often-opaque Romney is really thinking — now we know he's secretly dripping with contempt for Americans who are struggling, and burning with desire to raise their taxes. What an "utter disaster."
"Today, Mitt Romney lost the election"

Romney will only lose if he backs down: Romney's "basic argument is reasonable," says John O'Sullivan at National Review. Far too many Americans are dependent on government, and this influences the way they vote. Pointing that out isn't political suicide, but Romney will "weaken his campaign enormously" if he backs down. He needs to take charge and use this debate to explain how excess government hurts us all. This isn't the end. It's a chance for Romney to "show his mettle."
"How Romney should respond"

Mitt's fatal problem is his inept campaign: Romney's "stupid" comments suggest "he really doesn't know much about the country he inhabits," says David Brooks at The New York Times. Yes, entitlement spending is rocketing out of control, but it goes to middle-class workers, Republicans even, not just "childlike worshipers of big government." The "moochers" Romney sneers at are Iraq war vets, the elderly, students. This miscue is a symptom of Romney's true problem — he's running a "depressingly inept campaign." If he goes down in flames, that will be why.
"Thurston Howell Romney"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.