Who Recorded Mitt Romney?

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But the clip including Romney's comment about the 47 percent was not among the first posted and it wasn't until last month that an excerpt about Chinese labor conditions and Bain began to get limited notice. In the clip, Romney recounts going to China "to buy a factory there."

Democratic party operatives began to take notice in August, including those who work in Washington at American Bridge, a superPAC with the mission of recording virtually every word Romney or Ryan says, looking for a possible slip up.

According to Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge, "It just needs to be uploaded to YouTube, one person sees it, sends it to four or five other people, it gets Tweeted out and the next thing you know you've got millions of people seeing this."

But then late in August Mother Jones magazine was put in touch with the videographer by James Carter. The magazine's editors realized the potential impact of the now infamous 47 percent clip, which had previously gone unnoticed.

"Once we had the full tape, which was several weeks ago, it jumped out at us immediately," said Bauerlein. "But [we] needed to take some time to really make sure we had a story that was completely solid. You know, verify it, fact check, do additional reporting."

Romney is hardly the first politician to be tripped up by remarks not intended to be public.

Republicans scored a similar coup four years ago when a blogger caught Obama on tape at a private fundraising event, talking about the members of the conservative right.

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Obama told his audience in San Francisco that "it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Under Florida law it is a crime, a felony, to secretly record someone who has a reasonable expectation they are not being recorded. But many say anyone running for President should always expect that they may be recorded by someone, somehow.

"The thing that candidates have to worry about is that every event that they're at, there's no such thing as off the record anymore," said Doug Thornell. "These are moments that campaigns live for. And certainly in this instance, Mitt Romney provided Democrats with a gold mine of rhetoric. "

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