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Can Romney's campaign get back on track? (+video)

Following the release of a video from one of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's fundraisers, some commentators question his campaign strategy, while others defend him. Polls show the presidential race is still close. 

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'Depressingly inept'

"It's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney," Brooks wrote. "He's running a depressingly inept presidential campaign."

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Two Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate in Democratic-leaning states, Linda McMahon in Connecticut and Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, distanced themselves from Romney's comments.

McMahon said she disagreed with Romney and "the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be." Brown said in an email to The Hill newspaper that Romney's views did not reflect "the way I view the world."

The video capped a difficult two weeks for Romney, who has fallen slightly behind Obama in opinion polls, taken heavy criticism for a hasty attack on the president during assaults on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya and faced damaging news reports about infighting in his campaign team.

It also reinforced criticism that the millionaire former head of the private equity firm Bain Capital is out of touch with average Americans, a theme the Obama campaign has hammered home all summer through advertisements.

Romney did not back away from the remarks at a Monday night news conference in California, where he said they were "not elegantly stated," or again on Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.

Romney cited a 1998 video of Obama discussing his belief in wealth distribution "at a certain level to make sure everybody's got a shot." Romney said he and Obama had very different views of America.

"I think a society based upon a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money - that's the wrong course for America," Romney said on Fox.

In the video, Romney also said in response to an audience question that he would try to take political advantage of a foreign crisis similar to the Iran hostage episode that damaged President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

"I mean, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity," he said.

Democrats leaped at the chance to criticize Romney for the comments and launched a new ad and fund-raising campaign focused on them. On the West Bank, Palestinians said Romney was wrong to accuse them of not seeking peace.

"No one stands to gain more from peace with Israel than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more in the absence of peace than Palestinians," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters. "Only those who want to maintain the Israeli occupation will claim the Palestinians are not interested in peace."

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