With only seven weeks to go until Election Day, Romney was at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa for a private fundraiser. But what raised controversy was what the GOP presidential candidate said at another private fundraiser earlier this year.
The video clips were posted online by the liberal magazine Mother Jones.
"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 that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it," Romney is heard on the video saying.
Romney's campaign team is already mounting a response to the potentially damaging video.
"Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy," the campaign said in a statement. "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."
Then at a hastily called news conference, Romney said those statements were "spoken off the cuff" and were "not elegantly stated."
Obama's campaign called the video "shocking."
"It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement.
The controversy surfaces just as Romney tries to retool his campaign message by issuing more specifics about how his policies will fix the economy. Earlier in the day, he was in downtown Los Angeles to talk to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at its 33rd Annual National Convention. The GOP is trailing far behind the Democrats with Latino voters.
"As Hispanics, you understand the threat President Obama's spending poses for our future," Romney said to the crowd. "Many Hispanics have sacrificed greatly to help build our country and our economy, and to leave for their children a brighter future. Today, those sacrifices are being put at risk by a president who just can't stop spending."
But before he even stepped on stage, Latino-elected officials and business leaders were out in protest of Romney's ideas.
"Regardless of what Mr. Romney may choose to say in that room, the record is clear that the Romney-Ryan ticket is a clear pathway back to the failed policies that caused the worst financial crisis in generations," said protester John Perez.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama launched a new trade enforcement case against China during his campaign stop in Ohio. The president wants to target Chinese subsidies for exports of automobiles and automobile parts. Ohio has a large manufacturing base where many blame China for the downturn in the auto industry.
Both Romney and Mr. Obama have television appearances planned later this week. The president will be on "The Late Show with David Letterman," and Romney will appear on "LIVE! With Kelly and Michael."
The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce represents about 3 million people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.