October 4th, 2012
11:39 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney on 47% comments: I was 'completely wrong'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney said he was "completely wrong" when he argued that nearly half of Americans were "victims" and dependent on government.

The admission came Thursday as the GOP presidential candidate sought to clarify his controversial "47%" comments.

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"Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said on Fox News. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

Last month, secretly recorded video of Romney at a May fundraiser showed the Republican candidate saying 47% of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama "no matter what."

"There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that for tax year 2011, 46% of households will end up owing nothing in federal income taxes. But if payroll taxes are counted, the number of non-payer households drops precipitously - to an estimated 18% in 2011.

Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he added.

"What I have to do is convince the 5 percent to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful."

After the videos, which were posted on the progressive news website Mother Jones, caught fire, Romney called a last-minute press conference with pool reporters while he was in California at the time.

The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged the comments were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but he defended the main point of the message, saying he was criticizing the increasing size of government and entitlement programs.

"We have a very different approach – the president and I – between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams," Romney said.

The following day, Romney still stuck by his comments and elaborated on the logistical reasoning behind his remarks.

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"We were of course talking about a campaign and how he is going to get close to half the vote," Romney said. "I'm going to get half the vote, I hope, I want to get 50.1% or more. Frankly we have two very different views about America."

In the first presidential debate Wednesday, Obama surprised political observers by not going after Romney on the comments, as he has on the campaign trail in the last two weeks.

On Fox News Thursday night, Romney was asked what he would have said if the president had brought up the controversial statements–which is when the GOP nominee went as far as to say he was "wrong."

He then argued that, if elected, he would represent all Americans, not just half.

"I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100% and that's been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100%. When I become president, it will be helping the 100%."

What’s your reaction to Mitt Romney saying his secretly recorded comment that nearly half of Americans were victims dependent on government was "completely wrong?" Share your thoughts below or using the hashtag #47percent.


Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,403 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    Obama has had his turn.....he needs to go back to Chicago, and most of the INTELLIGENT Americans know this!!! There are a few libtards out there that are still stuck in the 60's, smoke pot, and don't have jobs who want Obama to stay, but overall both Obama and his policies that are crushing this country need to go.

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. ya

    Romney gets it! And here I was an Obama supporter for years. All I needed to see was the two of them together, and bam, the answer is pretty clear folks. Obama is burnt. He's done. He inherited a mess. Romney is the guy to cut the spending, to stop and bs with all the handouts. He will win simply because he debates well. I will vote for him, because he is 100% correct on calling a certain demographic "freeloaders".

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. karen

    just proves he will say anything to try to win the election

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  4. jeanni

    It is what ROMNEY 9.0 does he is a LIAR! and the American people are DUMB enough to vote for this panderer. Shame on us!

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. AC

    No you were completely caught!!!

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. cgs

    Obama: I was completely wrong. Would CNN ever run such a headline? There is plenty of material.

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. kj

    Romney,Not right for America, smug and smarmy.

    October 5, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Anonymous

    So this man that has based his entire campaign up until this point on intentionally misconstruing the Presidents words, like you didn’t build that; now he wants us all to understand that sometimes words don’t come out and sound exactly the way you intend them to. That it’s a difficult thing to make so many speeches and answer so many questions without making any mistakes.

    Well guess what? If you had that kind of compassion all along you would have showed it toward the President and not lied about his policies so consistently.

    Guess what Mitt Romney; this is your October surprise.

    Thanks for admitting you were wrong. You have 5 boys and I have 3 so we should know the following lesson. Sometimes when you’re wrong sorry doesn’t make everything all better. You have to earn our trust. Starting now. You have allot of work to do. Good luck Nov. 6th
    Obama/Biden2012

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Tim

    As another – and MUCH better Republican once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time . . ."

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  10. lnd72

    There is actually less outrage about the 47% comment than liberals would expect because a larger percentage of the country actually thinks that on principal everyone (including some conservatives in the 47%) should at least pay some federal income tax. In fact some collect a tax refund without paying any tax.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. us_1776

    Romney:

    Flip, reset, 47%, double down, 100%, spray on tan, spin, retool, -47%, flop.
    Flip, reset, 47%, double down, 100%, spray on tan, spin, retool, -47%, flop.
    Flip, reset, 47%, double down, 100%, spray on tan, spin, retool, -47%, flop.
    Flip, reset, 47%, double down, 100%, spray on tan, spin, retool, -47%, flop.
    Repeat.

    .

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. nkwulf

    Wasnt it just last week he was defending his statement?

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Jill

    Willard, to speak about half of all Americans including retired folks and disabled folks in such explicit words and terms behind closed doors reveals your true heart and thoughts. One thing about the spoken word, once you put it out there, you can't take it back. You said it and it's yours! You spoke your true beliefs.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. michael corrieri

    Yeah, well Obama has made some gaffes too. No biggie. If you factcheck.org the last debate, You'll see Obama was totally offbase with his 5 Trillion statement – and he made it over, and over, and over, and over. The amount being reduced was only 500 billion. For some reason Obama had multiplied that by 10 – like it was a 10 year projection – but then was comparing it to deductions and budgetary items for a singular year.

    Mistakes happen – these guys are both under a lot of pressure. Honestly – the real question is which one of them you are going to trust more. Because politics is a confidence game. AKA Con Game.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Laura F

    Back peddle, back peddle, back peddle. It's too late. You missed the "How to Win Votes" exit a long time ago.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  16. John

    Never believe what a Mormon says. They live in their own make believe world.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Admission comes way too late after life of the news cycle. After years of pandering to extreme conservatives to gain the nomination, any contrite apology is not credible.

    October 5, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  18. simp

    This puppet romney is saying anything those idiots in his camp tells him so now they are scared the President will bring up the 47% ( which I hope he does) so stupid romney is saying he was wrong for saying it, yea you were wrong for getting caught you care less than an dam about the 47% you mentioned in your fundraiser and by you saying your were wrong does not change one thing, you meant it!!!

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Dee

    So this man that has based his entire campaign up until this point on intentionally misconstruing the Presidents words, like you didn’t build that; now he wants us all to understand that sometimes words don’t come out and sound exactly the way you intend them to. That it’s a difficult thing to make so many speeches and answer so many questions without making any mistakes.

    Well guess what? If you had that kind of compassion all along you would have showed it toward the President and not lied about his policies so consistently.

    Guess what Mitt Romney; this is your October surprise.

    Thanks for admitting you were wrong. You have 5 boys and I have 3 so we should know the following lesson. Sometimes when you’re wrong sorry doesn’t make everything all better. You have to earn our trust. Starting now. You have allot of work to do. Good luck Nov. 6th
    Obama/Biden2012

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  20. TamarS

    of course he was completely wrong. he knew that when he said it but said it anyway. his many years misrepresenting information in business deals is just habit for him now. he would be disastrous in international politics with an attitude like this. he knew it was wrong in May but doesn't acknowledge it until October? He really must think American citizens are stupid.

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. USMama

    Big Bird for president!

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. V in Chicago

    Flip Flop! Here we go again . . .

    October 5, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. jen

    He is wrong because he got caught. If he hadn't been caught he would of never said he was sorry. Really, if anyone believes what this idiot says need their head examined.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. newsjunkie

    Shame on CNN. Making front page news out of Romney saying he should clarify a comment and ignoring the fact that our president let our ambassador be murdered and blamed youtube! This is why your ratings are terrible and no one trusts you. On the day that fox broke the news that the state department knew it was a terrorist attack you didn't even mention the story! I would not trust a single thing from CNN.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Planet Kolob

    Yes Mitt you were wrong, now please go to Utah and become a minister and LEAVE politics forever, for the good of the entire nation.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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