Man who filmed Romney’s ’47 percent’ comments speaking out

Posted at 9:04 PM, Mar 13, 2013

By CNN Political Unit

(CNN) — The man who filmed Mitt Romney making the now-infamous “47 percent” comments is speaking out about why he secretly-recorded the GOP presidential candidate at a fundraiser last May.

Scott Prouty, a bartender who worked for a catering company, said he was inspired to do so after a friendly encounter with former President Bill Clinton.

Prouty came forward in interviews with the Huffington Post and “The Ed Show” on MSNBC.

At a previous event, Prouty said Clinton came back to the kitchen and expressed gratitude to the staff, waiters, bartenders and busboys who helped cater the event. He took photos, shook hands, signed autographs and complimented the meal, he told Huffington Post.

He said when he heard Romney would be attending an event that he was tending, he brought his camera in case he could get a picture with the presidential hopeful.

The former Massachusetts governor, however, was late to the Florida event and left shortly after it was over, without speaking to the event staff. While he told the guests that his comments would be off the record, he did not address the same instructions to the wait staff.

Prouty said he placed a Canon camera on the bar and pressed the record button. He told Huffington Post he had no intention to publish the video until he heard Romney’s speech.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

Part of his intention in taping Romney’s comments and releasing them to the public was to relay what the candidate said at private high-dollar fundraisers, which was different from his normal stump speech.

“People paid $50,000 for dinner. Nobody I know can afford to pay $50,000 for dinner,” Prouty said on “The Ed Show.”

“I felt an obligation for all the people who couldn’t be there, so they could hear what the candidate actually thinks,” he continued.

Romney, Prouty claimed, doesn’t have “any idea what a typical American goes through on a regular basis.”

In the video, Romney could be heard saying nearly half of Americans were victims “dependent” on the government and would vote for Obama no matter what.

“There are 47% of people who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you-name-it,” Romney said on the tape.

Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his “job is not to worry about those people.”

The moment caught on camera is still noted as a major turning point in the race and cited–even by Republicans–as one of the main reasons Romney lost the election.

Reflecting on the moment himself, Romney said earlier this month that “it was a very unfortunate misstatement.”

“It’s not what I meant. I didn’t express myself as I wished I would have,” he said on Fox News, adding that he wasn’t guarding his words as carefully since it was a private event.

“It was very harmful. What I said is not what I believe. Obviously, my whole campaign – my whole life has been devoted to helping people, all of the people. I care about all the people of the country,” he said. “But that hurt. There’s no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign.”

In an interesting twist, James Carter, an opposition research and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, found the video online and put the bartender in touch with a writer for the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.

He told CNN last month that Obama personally thanked him after the election when the president met James and his cousin, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, at an event in Atlanta.

“After (Jason) got his picture taken, he told Obama that I was the one that had found the 47% tape,” James Carter said on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

“Then Obama said, ‘Hey, great, get over here.’ And then he kind of half-embraced me, I want to say, put his arm around me, and we shook hands. He thanked me for my support, several times,” he said.

Carter added he had only seen a small portion of the hour-long tape at the time and had no idea it would blow up as much as it did last September.

“I obviously hoped that everything that I found would make a difference,” he said. “It ended up being way beyond my wildest dreams.”

Carter’s grandfather, Jimmy Carter, bragged about his grandson’s efforts in a separate interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

The former president said he thought the video was a “pivotal moment” in the election.

“It was something (Romney) could not deny and it stuck with him for the rest of the election and I think it was a major factor, if not the major factor,” he said.

“Carter won Obama the election,” Morgan joked.

“I think so,” Carter said, laughing.

CNN’s Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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