(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.
Making Flippy Floppy
They don't call hip Flip-floppin' Romney because he stays consistent, so, no, I'm not surprised. When he's amongst Hispanics, even his skin color changes – it's amazing. Get him a room with Communists and he'll start preaching the good words of Marx himself. That's been his whole argument for the whole campaign: say whatever you want and then wait a few days to apologize.
It's too late to retract your sentiments Romney. Most American's know you do not have our best interest at heart.
i'm one of those people incapable of looking someone in the eye and telling a lie. my head would fly off. willard is just one of those rare people that if he looked you in the eye and told the truth, his head would fly off.
I am always undecided until the actual Election Day. I am the kind of person who believe the better candidate deserves the big job, regardless the party. I believe that every president stepped up to the plate, and try their best do the right thing.
I have to agree that Romney was the better candidate during the Denver debate. If that was the only debate, I would vote for him.
Obama needs to get his enthusiasm back on the podium next time. I think he's a good president regardless what some people say (see if you can do better!). It's not an easy job, and I definitely don't want it. Good luck, Mr. President.
Dear bashes from both sides, keep an open mind. And I hope you will never run for president.
This guy is a lier. He will say one thing to apease one set of people and another to the second no matter how different they are. He is only interested in our votes.
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He stood by his words, now he retracts, make up your mind! There is not much time left...
6 months after you said it and the morning after it was discovered "I am 100% behind those comments"......If you say more stupid things in a crisis, will it take you 6 months to figure out that you said something that was completely dumb?
Mr. Romney is very good at presenting falsehood. He will bamboozle you when he becomes president.
Obama said PA sticks to their Bible & Guns...to this day he never admitted it....at least Mitt Romney has a pair and publically admit he was wrong.
So when is going to all the wrong things he said to win the debate?
The American people might just be dumb enough to buy it.
Nothing he has said has infuriated me as much as this. Of course he fails to realize that many of those 47% are making minimum wage which he and his cronies would never think of raising to a living wage. How many people can raise a family making minimum wage without some government assistance? He is such a liar. He believes every word of what he said and now that it's out he has the temerity to say he was wrong. Well he doesn't believe that for a second. It's exactly what he thinks. What a hypocit. Anyone who votes for him it nuts. I may not always agree with President Obama but I trust his integrity and believe that he is always putting the good of the country above his own interests.
Boy, this guy sure knows how to screw up a decent campaign! Call it the Romney Blunder Express!
He went to all the trouble to practice his fact fabrication skills to knock Obama off balance and it works, but instead of riding his small wave of enthusiasm to its end he kills it now by apologizing for something he did months ago. So now he's back in the dog house and to top if off he chooses a day when Obama scores big on the jobs question.
This is one big reason to NOT vote for Romney, he does not know what he is doing in politics and that can be extremely dangerous.
Thanks for finally admitting you were wrong. That is so nice of you. Once a flip-flopper always a flip-flopper!
UNDECIDED ON NOV 6. LISTEN TO ME. VOTE for the lesser of two evils. UNDECIDED first of all my question to you is. WHERE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST YEAR? Are you listening to the canidates?
this is another example of Mr. Romney shooting first and aiming later and correcting his statements to audiences who will be more forgiving (FOX). How many more of his assertions will need to be changed?
I wonder if the individual who made the infamous hidden camera recording realized at the time that he/she was single-handedly changing the course of American history by assuring the re-election of the President? It must be a very satisfying feeling.
He was speaking his mind of what he truly feels. Anyone who makes under $200,000 a year are ants to him.
If anybody out there is stupid enough to believe that Romney is being sincere in saying that he was wrong about the 47%, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you at a reasonable price. Romney has proven that he will say anything to get elected. If Romney could be Pinocchio we could save money on our space program by climbing his nose to the moon to build that space colony that Newt Gingrich dreams of. Just think we could run cable and power lines along his nose and ship any natural resources that we could find there cheaply.
Good grief! Romney must be suffering from policy whip-lash yet again.It would appear he was a moderate Republican when he was governor,but when he was running to get the nod as nominee for the GOP, he had to tie himself in knots as he wasn't right -wing enough for the tea-baggers. Being a moderate was anathema to them. So in his infamous taped conversation, he said what the radicals wanted to hear. Now he recants and realized he was wrong to garner votes of moderates. Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? Which of hi alter-egos would be president?
why did he wait 2 weeks to apologize?
Shovel ready jobs not so shovel ready, transparency not so transparent, I patriotic debt doubled and tax payer money invested in companies gone bankrupt. Pretty doubled minded sounding to me.
When this came out, he said he stood by his comment. A little late, jerkbag. I guess advisors are telling you to say this to try to fix it. Be who you are, stop pretending to be a nice person who cares about anyone. I didn't agree with your idea when you said you stood by your comment, but at least at that ONE moment, you were being honest.