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."

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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. Vincent

    This guy will say anything. You said it and it's going to stick. You can say that you love poor people all you want and you're worried about their health insurance. We all know you mean "Go to the ER you moocher".

    October 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. TB

    I do not believe his apology to be sincere; only an attempt to regain some votes that he has lost by showing how truly callus and uncaring he can be. How could he ever relate? This is someone who has never had to struggle or had bad luck so how can he relate? Answer: HE CAN'T. This country is slowly making a recovery and turn around. To go back to the policies that lead us in this black hole in the first place would be foolish. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; so Obama has to move slowly or the entire economy can come crashing down around us all. We are making progress the problem is people have to be patient. We didn't get into this mess overnight it took 8 years on Bush's watch to get here and so how can Obama pull it back completely in 4 years? Answer: It will take more time. I read an article on the internet and I do not remember who wrote it but I remember the main message in that article was as follows and this person wrote: "It is beyond me why anyone making under $1,000,000 a year would ever vote Republican"! They simply favor the already priviledged and wealthy making his 47% remarks right on the money for him.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Cometogether

    It took Governor Romney a long time to retract his comments. He was told he needed to make the retraction. This is not a apology, it's politics. President Bush had eight years to help mess up, President Obama deserves eight years to clean it up!

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. True Blue

    I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow Romney turns around and says he's a Russian spy and has been, all along.

    The pace of his flip-flops just makes my head spin.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  5. tucsand

    I;ll say one thing for Mitt Romney at least he has the guts to apologize for something.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Phill

    He will say whatever it takes to get elected. If you are undecided, please don't let him trick you into voting for him.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. Woody D

    This Romney affair confirms he's either a LIAR, A FAKE, CLUELESS, SPINELESS or all the above. Independent voter opinion.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Red Team

    So you mean to tell me that after he gets outed in a video, that suddenly he falls victim to another secret recording. This one just also happens to white wash the other comment that proved to be a major gaff. I think that this is stage and Romney is a bad liar. At best he has failed to learn from his first experience with not being able to control a room and keep comments from leaking to the public. I don't know which version is worse.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. iminim

    This is not Mr Romney's first run at the Presidency. He says he understands what the average Joe & Jane are going through in this economy. He has been a state governor. But he has just realized that the 47% who do not pay federal income tax AREN'T irresponsible people refusing to take responsibility for their lives? Was he not paying attention and doing his research in the preceeding years? Did he just not care to find out the truth about that 47%? He is either playing to the electorate in order to get votes or he is seriously naive about the financial situation of a huge percentage of the US population. Kudos to him for apologizing for the error.....and a few raised eyebrows for getting this far into the process & still being so out of touch, or so uncaring, that he made the error in the first place.

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Tickle

    Imagine if Romney is elected president and declares war on some nation, then few days later he said "oops.. I was wrong!"

    October 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Joyce L Miller

    I am not surprised that Romney is changing his mind on the 47% statement. He would not be Mitt if he did'nt. The damage is done and he even backed up his statement the day after and now that he was not asked about it in the debate believes he is absolved from his lies and disdain, shows how manipulative he is. I am a 47%er and would not vote for him if my life depended on. I would rather be dead. That's what will happen if he is elected.

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Ken

    Everyone says things the wrong way He just wants people to get working instead of others paying people to sit home,that extra money could mean new jobs.
    At least we wood stay free

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. enigma

    How can anyone believe the constant lies coming from him??? He says it, defends it months later, then says he was wrong? The only reason why he is saying it now is because he's afraid Obama will bring it up in the next debate. He didn't this time around which was great considering Obama now has even more fuel to bury him the next time around. Kudos to Obama for holding off so Mittens can look like a fool. Now it will be used to destroy him! I wouldn't be surprised (in the far unlikely chance Romney does become President), that he blows up an innocent village in some far away country looking for some random terrorist, just to say "Oop's, I was completely wrong about that." This guy is a joke and I bet the Repubican commitee is just shaking their heads over choosing him to run.

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. TRUSTY

    I fully believe Romney for everything he said. He hated 47%, but he loves 100% Americans now. Let me see what would he say by this afternoon.

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. bryes

    It takes a big man to admit when they're wrong. When is Obama going to answer for refusing requests for security at the LIbyan embassy after repeated attacks and threats?

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Jules

    Romney was completely wrong and President Obama was completely right. Not a tough decision for me. By the way, if Romney had not taken such a beating over the 47% remark he would never had said he was wrong. He stood by his claims after the tape was released. Now, when his remarks have come home to roost, he decides to flip flop again.

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  17. derriquestuckey

    Gee, that's funny. Fox News seems to have no record of this conversation. Nice try, CNN. This is a sucker story for people who believe that adding 800,000 jobs raises unemployment, while adding 100,000 lowers it. We've got some real sharp ones on here.

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  18. us_1776

    .
    Romney: The Man With Every Position

    .

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Disappointed American

    Romney is not getting my vote and it doesn't matter how badly Obama does in any staged debate! The republicans screwed up our country and they want all the power and all the money and will do damn near anything to get the White House back, including cheating (remember dangling chads and Jeb Bush deciding the winner in Florida, who just happened to be his BROTHER)!!! I fully intend to vote for anybody BUT a republican for every race in which I get to cast my vote! Bye-bye Romney and you "saints" in Salt Lake can get back to whatever warped thing you were doing!

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Ron

    Romney you are always wrong: A $200-250K salary is not "middle income" as you stated, half of Americans aren't leeches, corporations are NOT people, the Middle Class does not need to carry the tax burden for millionaires, etc, etc

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. grayfox

    "I was completely wrong...", he said, grasping his hands to his heart in abject sincerity. And how many morons will believe him?

    October 5, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. syntagainfo

    Romney is apologizing because he cannot spin this to his advantage.
    Sometimes it just makes sense to apologize, especially since Obama gave him a pass in the debates. Now that is one aspect that can't be used against him.

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Socrates

    Romney apologizes to the 47%. Mitt, your comment about the 47% came directly from your heart, the same way you told the world you were going to close down the PBS, that is the real Mitt. That is the way you think and feel. I don't believe your apologize, it is false. You don't fool me.

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. caw

    Notice that there is no apology to the American people, nor did he mention the fact that most people who don't pay taxes voted for Republicans in the past. For shame.

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Terry L. Traub

    Romney was "wrong" on many levels. Failed to understand the source data he commented on, as in: "will end up owing nothing" does not mean PAY nothing. Blogger inadequately fails to explain what "payroll taxes" she references. These are not employer paid taxes. They are the worker's taxes. Most Americans pay taxes in every paycheck in mandatory withholding, or have it deducted from paid benefits (unemployment). "In the end" means after taking credit for taxes one has already paid, one might not pay MORE taxes with their return. This misstatement is so egregious, especially from a brilliant businessman like Romney that it can only be an intentional obfuscation to appeal to the base instincts of his (then) audience-a room full of wealthy snobs.

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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