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.

With Ryan by his side, Romney rallies Virginians in debate victory lap

"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. johnny popper

    Let me see if I've got this right: It is dishonest per Obama for a candidate to say the Democratic party has bought 47% of the voters when 50% of the country is on food stamps and not paying any income tax thanks to President Obama's policies but it's NOT dishonest for Obama to say he would halve the 8 trillion dollars of public debt he inherited in 2008 by 2012 and then go on to double the public debt to 16 trillion? and he has yet to explain why he doubled the public debt other than to balme everyone around him except himself.

    I love President Obama and his media's logic.

    "There will be no more pork in washington! I will go over each new spending bill line item by line item!" Candidate Obama – October of 2007.

    What an absolute LIE that was. 90 billion in green energy gifts to his buddies; none of which are open today. A national healthcare bill his sacrificual lamb Pelosi openly admitted to not reading before voting on it! A couple of reall whoppers right there CNN!!

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Hogarth

    Which is it, Mitt? Were you lying then, or lying now? Either way, you can't make yourself smell very good.

    October 5, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. me

    Mitt will say absolutely anything to be elected President.

    "Absolutely wrong"? Guess what, Mitt: It's not enough.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Tracey T

    Yes Romney, What you said was wrong. But first you said you stand behind it 100%. I do not really believe that you believe what you said is wrong. I think you think that it was wrong that you got caught and it cost you support. I believe that you will say ANYTHING that you think will help you get elected POTUS. First you say to your rich donors what they want to hear (47% comments) so they will give your campaign money. Then you say to the middle class that you were wrong because that is what you think they want to hear (anything to get elected). Romney you have no principles.

    Alll of this flip flopping is making me dizzy, I need to go lay down.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. C. S. Evans, Texas

    Too little to late Mitt!! You meant exactly what you said. And, for you who believe Mitt won the debate is in denial. All Mitt did was rudely talked over the President!! He really isn't presidential at all! No substance what so ever. He did not give one clear answer to the questions!! Full of lies!! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. AreUserious

    Romey is sooo INGENUOUS, NO ONE CAN BELIEVE HIM NOR SHOULD. He'll turn on the country and the 47 percent if he becomes president, then its too late.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. SeriouslyMAn??

    Please..I know politicians lie but I have never seen someone flip/flop so much like Romney! Hes sorry because he got caught saying it not because he means it.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Romney gave 29.4 % of his earned and taxable income to charities in 2011. The Obamas gave 20% and the Biden's gave less than 2%. You cannot say that Romney does not care for the other 47%. The Romneys gave over 4 million dollars to different charities and this has been their lifestyle, not a flip flop or election year stunt. The truth is there, but you have to be able to see a truth that isn't always pretty. The statement should not have been said, Jimmy Carter's grandson should not have secretly recorded and released the video, but there is still truth here.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. bombastus

    Nice try. His 47% speech was not a gaff. This was a well thought and prepared talk to a group of his peers. He was either telling them what they wanted to hear and did not believe a word of it or he was telling him exactly what he thought. Either way is terrible. No way out of this one Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. AriesKnot

    Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing -– what big teeth grandma has...

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. No Good At This Point

    Romney has lost the trust of this country after his latest statement on the 47% of Americans! Changing horses in the middle of a race just to get elected is Very Poor Showmanship! He Would Be Flagrantly Bad For America! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Jim8

    Amazing. I believe he is conducting a wink and nod campaign.

    Will the voters really go along with this?

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Vittoriokiss

    He will do anything now to WIN and get that elite status among his billionaire friends. I don’t buy his crap. I read, I know he lies more than he tells the truth.

    October 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. johnny popper

    blah, blah, blah CNN!

    Let me see if I've got this right: It is dishonest per Obama for a candidate to say the Democratic party has bought 47% of the voters when 50% of the country is on food stamps and not paying any income tax thanks to President Obama's policies but it's NOT dishonest for Obama to say he would halve the 8 trillion dollars of public debt he inherited in 2008 by 2012 and then go on to double the public debt to 16 trillion? and he has yet to explain why he doubled the public debt other than to balme everyone around him except himself.

    I love President Obama and his media's logic.

    "There will be no more pork in washington! I will go over each new spending bill line item by line item!" Candidate Obama – October of 2007.

    What an absolute LIE that was. 90 billion in green energy gifts to his buddies; none of which are open today. A national healthcare bill his sacrificual lamb Pelosi openly admitted to not reading before voting on it! A couple of reall whoppers right there CNN!!

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. davidp

    Romny: I thought my double down on an insult to half of Americans would show I am no longer a flip-flopper. However, now that I see the statements I originally stood behind has hurt my candidacy, I would like to say I am completely wrong (unless you think that would show weakness).

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. PeggyShan

    Are you kidding me?? Another flip flop[? What can you believe that comes out of his mouth? I am now convinced that he will say anything he thinks will get him elected and then he can do whatever he wants to do. What does he really believe in?

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. tjcafe

    As if that is some act of contrition? Excuse me..but why didn't he just say "OK. I lied. I was just pandering to my political base". Then I might have a little respect.

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  18. Kareen

    Romney will say anything and anyone believing him is a FOOL

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Ludwig

    In other words, he was wrong to say it in public! Sooner or later Mitt is actually going to have to take a firm stance on something. Then again, his current approach has worked so far.

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. Bankrupt1

    coal isn't the only factory that's killing us. watch A River of Waste: The Hazardous Truth About Factory Farms

    October 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Sid Prejean

    I'm a Public Defender. If I had a nickel for every one of my clients who tries to "un-confess" I could retire to the Caymans with Mitt's money!

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. sarge

    What is wrong is that he used those words to scare up money from GOP'ers who did not know the facts. So now, is he going to return their money?

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  23. on the fence

    #47percent... I think it is easy to say sorry when you are looking for votes. I don't understand how he can say it was a mistake that he doesnt believe because he didnt just say a one-liner. He went on and bolstered his point over a paragraph.

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. Name B Safeguard

    AND we're to believe him? He switches his message to what he find is popular and he is a slimy slippery chameleon
    that changes his opinions to get higher up in the polls!
    I will vote for OBAMA–he is right and he is fighting for us–the 99% NOT the millionaires who never EVER lived as the middle class have to do-paycheck to paycheck!

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Debbie in the South

    I live in Charlotte, NC. Cannot believe what's going on here... a baseball stadium is being built in uptown, everywhere you turn there is a building project, many road projects are underway (77, 485, etc.). We see houses being built, new neighborhoods. It's starting to look like it did six years ago when there were cranes everywhere and everything was on the upswing. Most of the people we know who suffered job losses during the past four years are re-employed in full-time jobs. We've seen our own family members in the south and north get good, solid jobs or change jobs during this economic crisis. So, while there is still room for improvement, it is happening and people are feeling more positive. The people we do know who haven't been re-employed have the problem of being older with skills that are not transferable, so that's where re-education of job skills is needed. There are jobs here... I'm on LinkedIn and get postings every day (I'm retired). North and South Dakota can't find enough people for their booming economy. There are jobs in DC (I know that from personal experience). So, if you can't find work where you are, follow the jobs! So, as far as I'm concerned, Pres. Obama has kept many of his promises and he has earned my vote (again). Romney changes his tune too often and doesn't back it up with any substance.

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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