Romney sticks by his '47%' remarks, hits back
September 18th, 2012
05:08 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney sticks by his '47%' remarks, hits back

(CNN) – Mitt Romney said in an interview Tuesday that remarks he made at a fund-raiser in May casting supporters of President Barack Obama as dependent on government were an honest reflection of his campaign's message.

"This is a message I'm carrying day and day out and will carry over the coming months," Romney said on Fox News. "This is a decision about the course of America, where we're going to head. We've seen the president's policies play out over the last four years."

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On Monday, secretly recorded clips of Romney speaking at a campaign fund-raiser were released on the website of the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones, including a clip of Romney characterizing supporters of Obama as dependent on government support systems.

"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in one clip. Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."

In the interview Tuesday, Romney said he was making a political analysis in the remarks, not a broader assessment of Americans who rely on government-funded programs.

"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."

He went on to cite an opposition-research video, released on the conservative Drudge Report website Tuesday, that shows Obama endorsing "redistribution" in 1998.

"The president's view is one of larger government," Romney said. "There's a tape that came out today where the president's saying he likes redistribution. I disagree. I think a society based upon a government centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that's the wrong course for America, that will not build a stronger America, or help people out of poverty."

Republicans began circulating the clip of Obama on Tuesday afternoon as the full 50 minute video of Romney's fund-raiser was set to release on Mother Jones' website. In the Obama video, the future president is heard speaking at Loyola University in 1998 about making government more effective.

"I think the trick is how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot," Obama is heard saying.

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, responded in a statement which cited figures from the 2008 campaign, "The Romney campaign is so desperate to change the subject that they've gone back to the failed playbook co-authored by Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

"Fourteen years ago, then-Senator Obama was making an argument for a more efficient, more effective government – specifically citing city government agencies that he didn't think were working effectively," LaBolt continued. "He believed then, and believes now, that there are steps we can take to promote opportunity and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot if they work hard. Unlike Governor Romney, he doesn't believe that if you're a student who applies for a loan you're looking for a handout."

In his interview Tuesday, Romney framed Obama's remarks as an endorsement of redistributing private wealth, rather than on making sure government agencies were well supported.

"I believe the right course for America is one where government steps in to help those that are in need, we're a compassionate people, but then we get people to build their own lives, creates their enterprises, we believe in free people and free enterprise, not redistribution," Romney said. "The right course for America is to create growth, create wealth, not redistribute wealth."

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. Larry in Houston

    makes you wonder how in the world a Republican could Ever Win in 2016 – – IF a moderate can't win over a guy that's got his left turn signal light on 24/7 . LOL

    Vote Dem – 2012 for us "working class" "middle class" citizens. ( as long as the supreme court doesn't decide it )

    September 18, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. John

    There you go, another repu blican who puts fo od on this chil dren

    September 18, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Steve R

    Mitt Romney. The gift that keeps on giving. If I'm the Prez, I pass on the debates and let Mitt show up and talk......and talk.....and talk. By the end of the night he will say something that will offend the majority of humans, animals, fish and plant life.

    September 18, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Michael

    HE HAS NO CHOICE! The RNC, GOP, Tea Party and Evangelicals will castrate him at the polls in november! Now, Robme and Lyin Ryan have to defend, justify, rationalize and humanize a disasterous gaffe! I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THEIR TRUE CONSERVATIVE COLORS TO SHOW! ALL THIS WILL BE GOOD MATERIAL FOR THE DEBATES!

    September 18, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. b.cohen

    Maybe while Mitt is working with percentages, he could tell us what percentage of his wealthy followers put their money in Swiss banks to keep from paying U.S. taxes.

    September 18, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Laurie

    Romney, I am among those 47%. You had my vote. Now you don't. You don't have to care about us? Not that it matters, but I'm also a Mormon. Why do you want to dismiss so many people? God help us if you are blessed to become our next commander-in-chief......

    September 18, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  7. rocinante

    You know whose in the lower 47%? The US military. Military pay grades start at $17,000 and go up slowly. Most military families are solidly in the 47% that Romney claims he "doesn't work for" and says "need to take personal responsibility".

    If the President doesn't work for the US military, who does he work for ??

    September 18, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  8. RTB

    What he said is false. It is not true that everyone who receives any government support thinks of himself as a victim. Some 80% of students receive federal student loans. Do they think of themselves as victims as they use those loans to pursue higher education? Are seniors who paid into social security all their working lives victims because they're now living on it? Is a middle class family that supports itself and sends its kids to college a bunch of mooches because the cost of tuition eliminates their federal tax laibility while the kids are in school?one I'd vote for. Now I see him as smug, greedy and nasty.

    September 18, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  9. ExRepublican

    Romney is disgrace to our country..Romney want you show your taxes. Romney I pay more taxes then you and I'm middle class ...Romney/Ryan hate middle class people and poor.

    September 18, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |

    Don't say a word Mr. President. He's destroying himself. First debate Octobr 3, 2012.

    September 18, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. LetsBeCivil

    Yes, Mr. Romney, there are two competing views on America's future society, and I happen to like Obama's better. I think the rich could stand to be less rich so the poor don't have to be quite so poor. YOUR idea of America's future is damn the regulations, buyer beware, and good luck... you're on your own, while what... you sit back and DO NOTHING but rake in a Congressman's salary and claim small government is better? For who? YOU?

    September 18, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. Michael Wiese

    Hmmmmmmmmm, maybe Mitt should ask his running mate what it was like to be a "victim" or "dependent on government". The young godless un-american mulsim socialist Paul Ryan and his family received social security benefits in his teenage years, which I'm guessing, helped put him through college. And he is now campaigning with a candidate who preaches about "hard work" and "dependency".
    Maybe Mitt should ask the communist marxist Paul why he didn't pull himself up by his bootstraps to get to the position he is in today instead of being a lazy socialist marxist communist america hater!
    That's right, because people like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are just as dependent on other people's money(be it inherited family money or government programs) as the people they call the 47%.
    The only difference is that while they reap the benefits of these programs, they will claim they relied on no one to get to where they are today.
    But them good ol' white christian pro-american republican morons don't see this hypocrisy, they see a dark-skinned man in the white house and it........drives.........them...........crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 18, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. Ann

    Romney should go on attack. This is about what America stands for. Free-market economy or socialist government-supported economy, is that simple. Remember Mr. Obama's friends.. did everyone forget Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers? What was their agenda?

    September 18, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. dallas123

    In Romey's world, 47% of Americans are outcast.

    September 18, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  15. Lorenzo


    Many of CNN readers will find Fidel castro a very smart man, also Che Guevara an Idol.

    Mostly the 47% .

    In Countries where socialism succeded this 47% became the 99% and 1% of the wealth concentrated in the goverment. This is history. READ
    These countries today show that socialism and wealth 'redistribution failed.

    Obama's plan of wealth 'redistribution.' !!!!
    They did it in Cuba in 1959... Cuba went to 0 economy, since them leaving out of Russia and now out of Venezuela.
    I do not want this for my Children.

    September 18, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. Char

    Sadly 47% pay nothing – true remarks that need to be broadcast loud and clear – and this takes someone with guts to say it – perhaps Mitt is the man who can actually help this 47% start to pay something if nothing else but for self respect. What will it be like in 10 years if nothing changes – 70%. Frightens me. Not only do 47% pay nothing, they collect from you working folk through welfare, food stamps, free housing, free cell phones, electricity, school brekkies, lunches (soon to come no doubt come – dinners). Not only do they NOT pay tax, they get to vote for tax increases for YOU! Wake up America – 47% can vote for a tax increase for "YOU"!!!! What am I missing and why am I scared?

    September 18, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  17. dontbow

    obama's supporters are lame. he got that completely right.

    September 18, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    This guy is a JOKER to USA and WORLD.

    September 18, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. Bill Howerton

    GOOD!!!!! It's about time this mealy-mouthed candidate showing that he's actually got a pair. What he said was right, and factually correct. If the Dems go ballistic – that's just icing on the cake.

    This is going to be a get-out-the-vote election, which means you must excite your base, or you will lose. Up till this last week, Romney had done nothing to get true conservatives on his side. But his presser on Egypt combined with this could very well propel h8im into the White House.

    September 18, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. PixieDust

    Romney's other troubling attribute. No matter how wrong he will never admit it being wrong. It must run in the Republican gene pool because George W Bush displayed the same behavior.

    September 18, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Walt M

    Sorry Mit you don't need 50.1% of the vote if you did Al Gore would've been President and we probably wouldn't be $16 trillion in debt. You do need 270 Electoral College votes which is an antiquated system which needs to be replaced if every vote is to truly count. Also please show us that you are not part of the 47% along with 4,000 of your millionaire friends by releasing your tax returns.

    September 18, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. Steve

    Apparently, Mitt doesn't really want to be President. It amazes me that since 1988 Republicans continually nominate angry old men and doofuses. They could easily win with electable candidates. Our decrepit two-party system needs to be torn apart and replaced with something better.

    September 18, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. Amr Azim

    It will be a disaster if Romney becomes President!

    September 18, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. DENNA

    That's right RobMe. Anyway, if you backtrack you will be accused of flip-flopping, your favorite exercise. Now, when are you going to talk about your financial plan for America? Also, those tax returns – we want to see more of them. You know how pesty we 47%ers can be. It's nice to hear a politician tell the truth, even if he was only talking to a like-mind audience. I wonder how much those attending the $50,000 a-plate dinner have paid in taxes? Corporate welfare anyone?

    September 18, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  25. Amr Azim

    Romney has a brain of a first grade child.......

    September 18, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
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