(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.
Just wow! Lying all the time sometimes makes a person unreliable but i believe you Romney! Lol
never getting my vote you TAX CHEAT!!
Really? What will Mitt the Flip Flip say tomorrow in front of his wealth donors?
That is not an issue and we should not be talking about all these at this point – Get right on the issues and fix them or try helping the candidates fix them with new ideas
Romeny says,"I was completely wrong,for -getting caught on video- saying 47% of All Americans think they are victims."
Wait.. so, he initially stood by the gist of his prior comments.. and now he was completely wrong? US politics needs to go along with the NBA and enforce a "no flopper" rule...
i was wrong. According to all the polls, it actually 48%
As a diehard Democrat I'm frustrated and confuse for the weakness and lack of strenght that President Obama showed in this first debate. You can't expect to win a war if the enemy has powerful and destructive weapons while you have a plastic spade. You did dissapoint me totally, Mr. President. However I know still is possible to take a loudly revange in the next debate. It's the minimum the President MUST do and the minimum that we expect from him. Mr. President, remember: In political and love, everything is allowed.
He may have been wrong to say it, but that doesn't mean that he didn't really feel that way. Otherwise, he wouldn't have said it. All this is, is damage control. He's trying to undo all his mistakes, but that doesn't change who he is and what he stands for. Sorry Mitt, but it's a little late for sorry.
So he says it in a secret meeting, then claims he could have said it better, then doubles down and vigorously defends his statement, and now he backtracks. Morph a Mile_a_Minute Mitt is giving me a headache. Mitt Mitt go away, what will th' polls make you say today?
This is like a rapist apologizing for rape.
holy crap this guy has mastered the etch a sketch – the flip flop spell!
Non-apology! Besides he had already doubled down. It's too late!
How many lies is this guy planning on spewing? GOP, this is the best you could find....really.????????
What has been heard cannot be unheard. A weak crawfish attempt to camouflage his true feelings. Stuff it Romney!
Flip-flop! Its simply impossible to know what Romney truly stands for and what he might do.
Yesterday he changed his views on taxes and health care, today he finally backs off on the 47%, and tomorrow I predict he'll be a Baptist. By the time Mitt's elected President nobody will have clue who she is!
We live in a county that valises free speech, but you censure my comments?
Well, isn't that just a convenient back-peddle now that he's back in the race and enjoying a boost from the President's poor showing in the first debate. Talk about spin-doctoring and pandering to the audience. Wonder how he'll decide he was "mistaken" again after (and if) he's elected president. Sorry, I don't trust him. In fact, I don't trust either candidate or their "parties" or the government of this country.
The idea that everyone who supports Obama is a person who doesn't accept responsibility, relies on public benefits, and doesn't pay their fair share of taxes is not just wrong to say, it's actually false.
Mitt is lying again. What he said on tape may be the only truth this man has told – when he thought the public wouldn't find out. Now he's trying to secure votes. Before he said what all rich people think.
Are some Americans shortsighted? Romney is tricky, his character may get something done, but his character is not good as leader for the world, his leadership style will create a moral decline for America and the world in the long term. He is worse than Bush!!!!
Well..... DUH, Mitt!
No, Mitt Romney was completely honest when he made the 47% remark. It was too long and detailed of a pitch to Jewish donors in Boca Raton, FL for it not to have been his way of critical thinking about half the American population.