The man who surreptitiously recorded Mitt Romney making the comments that sent his presidential campaign reeling came forward Wednesday evening.
Scott Prouty, a bartender at a Romney fundraiser west of Boca Raton, had a huge impact on the 2012 campaign. The video showed Romney describing 47 percent of Americans as people who don't take responsibility for their lives and think government should take care of them.
The unveiling came came on “The Ed Show” Wednesday night on MSNBC, the cable channel favored by Democrats.
Prouty didn't say where he's from, but public records show Prouty lives in Hollywood. He described himself as "a regular guy."
“I’d like to think I have a good moral compass and a core. And I think I have a little bit of empathy. I think I have a little bit more empathy than Mitt Romney had," he said.
“He may have been the game changer that guaranteed the president’s victory,” said Charles Zelden, a professor of history and legal studies who specializes in politics and voting at Nova Southeastern University.
The video “painted Mitt Romney as everything people feared that he was: that he was a rich guy who just didn’t get us, and that you couldn’t trust him. He didn’t understand the life you were living and how could you vote for a guy like that,” Zelden said.
“It’s like when you read someone’s letter as opposed to what they say out loud, it always seems more real. In this case it just felt like this was the real man because he was speaking to his people in Palm Beach County, in Boca.”
Zelden said the president likely would have won the election anyway given demographic trends and how groups were voting. But the impact of the 47 percent remark is difficult to overstate, he said.
“This was the secret something that when it came out, it just put him in the worst possible light, and it was the light that he was already in for most,” Zelden said. “If you were a swing voter you were looking for reason to sit back and say this guy isn’t that bad. This thing [video] said he really was that bad.”
Democratic and Republican leaders agreed.
“It was damaging,” said Ira Sabin, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party.
Sabin said it fit into the narrative that President Obama’s supporters were trying to paint of Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy.
“It fed into the kind of stereotypical image they were presenting of Romney,” he said. “At the time he [Romney] was making a little headway and this popped up, and it gave them [Democrats] more ammunition.”
Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar offered a similar assessment.
“This was Mitt Romney live, uncensored, and on his own stage,” Ceasar said. “People had a preconceived notion of who they really thought Mitt Romney really was. This confirmed their greatest fears or their greatest suspicions.”
The tape, which surfaced in September, was made in May at a Romney fundraiser at the home of businessman Marc Leder west of Boca Raton
Romney's comments rocked the political world and brought a burst of national attention to the South Florida financier who hosted him.
Leder is part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team, and co-chief executive of Sun Capital Partners. The private investment firm is focused on leveraged buyouts and other investments -- the same way Romney amassed his fortune at Bain Capital.
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