September 21st, 2012
01:48 AM ET
2 years ago

Clinton: '47 percent' comments put 'heavier burden' on Romney in debates

(CNN) – Republican nominee Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment will put "a heavier burden on him in the debates," former President Bill Clinton said Thursday.

Fresh off a rousing speech to the Democratic National Convention, the popular Democrat told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that Romney will have to further explain comments captured on a secretly recorded video at a private fund-raising event in May, where the GOP nominee said nearly half of Americans will automatically vote for the president because they are dependent on government and consider themselves "victims."

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Asked if Romney's comments will significantly alter the race for the White House, Clinton said, "I think it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant."

President Barack Obama and Romney will face-off in three presidential debates in October. And while Obama currently has an advantage over Romney in recent polls, debate performances could tilt an already tight race.

Since the video was posted to the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones earlier this week, Romney has admitted the lack of eloquence in his remarks but stood by the crux of his argument.

Clinton, conceding that some Americans are trapped in a cycle of dependency, touted bipartisan welfare reform achieved during his presidency and noted that the amount the U.S. government spent during his administration on entitlement programs was "not out of line with other advanced countries."

"The 47%, those that are adults, they do pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay Medicare taxes. They pay state and local taxes," said Clinton on Romney's comments in an interview that will air in full on Sunday.

“But all of those people who don't pay ordinary income tax would love to be back paying ordinary income tax. They'd love to have a full-time job instead of a part-time job, or any job at all, or be able to get a pay raise.”

But with Romney's potentially damaging comments and the president's recent advantage in polls, is an electoral landslide feasible?

"It's possible," said Clinton, though he added it depends on the turnout of younger voters, a group the president carried handily in 2008.

"I still think you have to assume it's going to be a close race, assume it's a hard fight and then fight through it," said Clinton. "But I think the president has the advantage now. We did have a very good convention. He got a good boost out of it."

To catch Fareed's entire interview with President Clinton, tune in for Fareed Zakaria GPS this Sunday at 10am and 1pm eastern.


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. 200 TON HAMMER

    people love too eat so no matter what mitt romney is not going too be president

    September 21, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  2. BeverlyNC

    Even before all of Romney's gaffes and anti-People statements, he was going to have a very difficult time in the debates. Romney cannot speak without a script and that is when he always ends up making statements that further destroy his campaign. He also does not know the issues because he has wasted his entire campaign making up lies about President Obama instead of engaging in intelligent conversation. So that is where we are – a hopeless candidate even Republicans never liked faking reality versus a President who deal with real issues and critical decisions every single day and knows what leadership is and why truth and character and integrity matter as the President. He also has shown he has always know the President stands up for ALL Americans and does his best for ALL of us. Romney still doesn't know that. It;s just more scripted words he never intends to implement. I stand with the President and so will most of America. The debates will just confirm why we elected President Obama before and why we still need him to finish our recovery that is for ALL of us.

    September 21, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  3. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Romney literally has no clue what it is like to be a 47%er. He has never had to choose between feeding a family or getting medications that might just save a family members life. He has never lost a job because his only means of transportation broke down and he could not afford to fix it. He has never missed a grandchilds birthday, graduation or wedding because there was no way to afford to drive to it. He has never had to sleep in his car because the bank foreclosed on his house and threw him out in the street.

    And most of the people that are 47%ers don't see them selves as victems. They may have had some bad luck, but that is the way of the world. If they are on government aid, most are doing everything possible to make enough to get off of it. If Romney thinks sitting in a waiting room for hours for a beaurocrat to decide a persons fate is bon-bons and sugar plums he is out of his gold plated, caviar eating, champagne swilling mind. It is degrading, time consuming, humiliating ordeal designed to be as awful as possible so folks won't want to do it every month.

    Calling Romney an idiot would be an insult most idiots.

    September 21, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  4. DessertAaronAZ

    When was the last time Romney "paid" ordinary income tax? This is a serious question, I'd really like to know. Every paycheck taxes are assessed. Medicare and SSN "buy-in" is to ensure that I have a safety-net at retirement. NOTE.. this is a buy-in and not a free handout. Also, all you nay sayers.. how do you think the USA keeps it's standing as the greatest superpower in the world? To ensure our interests are protected? Our tax dollars ensure the status quo, and yes we all can agree that spending is out of control – but to cut off the fabric of our country and it's infrastructure is a bad move.

    September 21, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  5. DessertAaronAZ

    By the way...despite what Mr. Romney thinks (or not).. the middle-class income bracket does not start at $200,000 annually. I've been middle-class my whole life and my single mother who raised three kids never came close to making $200k...

    September 21, 2012 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  6. Thomas

    Romney will defend his comments by reminding us of the Obama statement about people , god and guns.

    However that was then , this is now. Romney must answer his 47% theory of governing .

    For the people , by the people , all Americans , not 53% of Americans and surly not the top 1%.

    September 21, 2012 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  7. NameTerry

    I think young voters are paying attention and know exactly what Mitt Romney's agenda is. To continue to empower the top 2%. He not only insulted their grandparents and parents but them as well with his 47% speech. Social media makes it so much easier for the ideology of a candidate to come to us. Our young people are very tech savvy. And they know the GOP'S biggest problem is their own choice of Presidential candidate. All I can say is Thank you Mitt Romney for being so full of yourself. Moving FORWARD. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    September 21, 2012 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  8. Wes

    As someone who is dependent upon government support in the way of SSDI I am very concerned over the degrading comments regarding the "47%" group of people who are so called "victims." I would love to work again and have the continuity and structure of employment to enfold my life. Instead I have paralysis and strokes, colostomies and cardiac arrhythmia, pain and constant discomfort, failed wheelchairs and old shower benches. I am living for the moment as I don't see a real future ahead. If not for the support from my life's investment in our nation, I would not be alive today. Mr. Romney has no empathy for those of us who dream of a life beyond the confinement that we are subjected to. He has never had to labor in efforts just to survive. I had a successful profession prior to an accident and I would greatly give all my property to walk again and have my health back just to go to a job fair. I now supplicate to the wealthy and the comfortable for crumbs and pieces of society's leftovers. I have not been to a restaurant in over four years, or to a movie theatre in nearly 20. I live with paucity as a fundamental to probity. I am not amused.

    September 21, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  9. J.V.Hodgson

    Clinton is right many of that 47 % ( enough to make a difference at least) are going to ram that foot in mouth gaffe which he still tries to justify as not a gaffe right down his unskilled political or diplomatic throat.
    All this fuss Of Rubio and the Latino connection has almost zero to do with how Latino's will vote Presidentially.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    September 21, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  10. The Elephant in the Room

    In simple terms [like traditional GOP bumper sticker speak], the Democrats need to HAMMER Romney on the 47%, And it should come from evryone but the President. The Dems will blow a GENERATIONAL opportunity to brand the Republicans as the Party of the 1% if they don`t go for the jugular on this. The need to run ads to teach those members of the 47% [which are in denial] that Romney truly MEANT them when his true character was revealed behind closed doors.

    The President`s closing statement in the 1st debate should draw blood on this topic. Finnish Romney off. It`s what the GOP would do.

    September 21, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  11. Marie MD

    Like they say if his father was alive, according to his own mother since daddy was on welfare and food stamps, even he would be part of unwashed masses.
    Your daddy was part of that 47% you don't want to help. Good boy, twit, good boy.

    September 21, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  12. Gurgyl

    Bill, all I say "we love you, your family–the Golden Era under your rule". Thanks. Yes, it is a taint in debate–no one in the right mind will consider that Mittens–cold season ic coming–he better wear mittens.

    September 21, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  13. Donkey Party

    And the GOP had the nerve to call Obama an arrogant elitist. At least he never wrote off half the country (while ridiculing them, no less).

    September 21, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  14. plain&simple

    Obama needs to continue being relentless at his job. Showing to be determined as a leader of our great country, confidence in his vision and a calm unflappable sensibility will be unnerving to Romney...who is in over his head and knows it!!!!

    September 21, 2012 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  15. karne

    But all of those people who don't pay ordinary income tax would love to be back paying ordinary income tax.
    =========
    Not my brother-in-law..he can work but told me he gets more money do nothing!

    September 21, 2012 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  16. Mari

    I'm so tired of Bill Clinton weighing in on this campaign. Everyone seems to forget he lied under oath.

    September 21, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  17. Joan

    Oh he tells the truth. HA HA HA.... Smoke a cigar Slick Willy. The GOP congress gave Clinton a balanced budget. FYI to the stupid liberals, the president does not make the budget. The democrats took over congress in 2007; not making a budget since; causing the USA credit downgrade and a recession. The 47% will grow to 99% if the fool Obama gets back in.

    September 21, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  18. El Flaco

    I was on federal welfare from 1975 – 1977 when my GI Bill paid for my tuition and fees for my Master's Degree. Since then, I have been fortunate to find good jobs. Not all of my friends and neighbors have been as lucky as me. I am happy to pay taxes to help those good Americans get through a rough patch.

    If Uncle Sam had not been there for me, I would never have gotten the degree that has supported me for 40 years.

    By the way, the university I attended was a tax payer supported state university. I am grateful to the tax payers who built it for me to attend. I am happy to pay state taxes so that other veterans can find a good university at a reasonable price.

    The 47% are the elderly, the handicapped, the unemployed, the working poor, single moms, fast food clerks, and sick people. I'm sure there are a few borderline loafers among them who could hold down a fast-food job but who have chosen not to.

    They are Exhibit A of the failure of the Private Sector to provide jobs that pay living wages to their employees. The Private Sector has figured out how to make all the products we want to buy while employing only 80% of us. That 20% is the people who have given up on finding work because there are no jobs.

    September 21, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  19. Jerry

    Monica knows what 47% really means.

    September 21, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  20. michael

    how are robme and lyin doing today? not so good i guess. too bad im crying under my laughing

    September 21, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  21. joe

    Funny how everyone is a tax expert when you mention they pay 0%, but willfully ignorant about those that pay close to 15% (because that money already took a 35% hit for corporate taxes).

    September 21, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  22. GI Joe

    I'm not listening to the debates. I'm voting Oct 8 for Obama/Biden because I've heard all the lies from Ryan/Romney that I intend to listen to.

    September 21, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  23. Steve

    Clinton makes a good point on this.

    September 21, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  24. Fourleaf Tayback

    It must drive Bill Clinton nuts to have to say nice things about Obama....he can't stand Obama. Why would he...Hillary is better than Obama..she would be a much better leader and Bill would get another chance at some White House Interns....OH YEAH.

    September 21, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  25. Rob

    I agree with Clinton. I have not forgotten the end of Bush's term and the bailouts, the job loss. I remember how this all started. I know many people who got laid off after working for companies for 15 ... 20 years. These are not "lazy" people on the government dole. Every last one of them busted their butts to get another job. They didn't WANT to be unemployed as Romney so arrogantly suggests. Romney himself is part of the problem for the 47%. He made a long, rich career out of throwing Americans out of their jobs and replacing them with people from India or China. Walk into any major corporation and you will see thousands of Indian nationals here for 2 to 3 year assignments. It is Romney who brought that business practice to America. We now have bloated our population with additional people living here, using our schools and medical serrices ... who are paid less than Americans, send the money back home to India and invest only a few years here at a time. That has to stop. Only allow this type of staff augmentation when the unemployment rate dips below 4%. WHAT IS ROMNEY HIDING IN HIS TAXES? He is a draft dodger and a tax dodger who disrespects this country and the people who make it great.

    September 21, 2012 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
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