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. Jas

    Goffy Mitt nees to show the American people his taxes!

    September 18, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. midnite62

    Romney's so offended by 47 percent of people who don't pay income taxes (but do pay payroll taxes) yet he gives the impression that he's a tax dodger since he won't release more of his own taxes. He made Lyin Ryan release his returns, where are HIS? Romney continues to prove how incompetent and cold he is as a candidate, no ideas, no compassion and hopefull no votes for him. Obama 2012.

    September 18, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  3. Rick

    He's like the saying about surgeons: "often wrong, but never in doubt"

    September 18, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Really?

    I agree with the man. There will always be that 47% that WON'T vote for you, no matter what. The rest are the rich, and the idiots. Keep on keeping on Mitt. At this rate, you will lose before the ballots are cast.

    September 18, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. scrappy

    Stick to your guns Mitt. You only said what 51% of us have said ourselves. Shame on the hypocrites who are 'offended' with the remarks.

    September 18, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Kef14

    People that don't pay income tax shouldn't want tax breaks for the rich? I thought tax breaks for the rich are supposed to make us all richer. Is Romney giving up the trickle down argument?

    September 18, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. Tired Of Slanted News

    Currently CNN has *11* headlines and the top half of the ENTIRE LEFT COLUMN of their front page devoted to this... but nothing at all about the recording that surfaced where Obama states he believes in redistribution. No wonder CNN has terrible ratings.

    September 18, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  8. Chris

    how can Romney pull a comment from 14 years ago with a straight face ? 14 years ago Mitt was pro-choice, pro-gay, pro health care ???

    September 18, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  9. Grannybaw

    Smaller government means smaller government budgets which means putting more people out of work. Republicans can't have it both cannot whine about the unemployment rate when you are proposing putting more people out of work and closing the door on those already seeking employment.

    September 18, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. Extra..Extra...

    Imangine People "the horror" Gov Romney was caught on tape saying that 47% of Americans don't earn enough to pay Income taxes and are becoming more and more dependent on Government hand-outs...Lets add to this the 8% unemployed plus all the millions that stopped mentioned in August empoyment August alone 360,000 Americans were written-off by Washington "WHY" Bcaused they stopped looking for non-jobs...the media, pundits and the Obama'campaign are barking up the wrong tree...with their SPINS....

    September 18, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. xx4zu1

    Republicans do have brilliant strategy. Pretend to be religious to gain the support of the uneducated, underemployed, racist and impoverished residents of the southern states then use that support to replace them at their jobs with illegals or outsource their jobs to foreign countries and further feed into their racism. This in turn forces them to become dependent on the government while they remove their ability to control procreation creating more warm bodies to feed their machine. Additionally they remove funding to education to keep them impoverished, while they blame the Democrats for creating people that are dependent on the government. It's a brilliant strategy.

    September 18, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  12. Switters


    23% are retired senior citizens

    9% are students in high school and colleges

    11% are working poor who earn less than $39,000 for a family of 4

    4% are truly poor or disabled physically or mentally

    September 18, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. tom

    The problem with Romney's statement is that he is deliberately misleading and feeding the widely held belief by conservatives, that most of the taxes they pay are going to freeloaders sitting around drinking beer all day. It just is not true. Yes 47% dont pay FEDERAL taxes, including some very wealthy people. Some don't pay because their income is so low. What do you want, that a poor person or retiree who gets only $20,000 a year, pay 20% of that just like someone who gets $100,000? And the 500lb Gorilla in the room that conservatives don't want to talk about is PAYROLL TAXES! The workers pay it, the Donald Trumps living off investments DONT PAY IT. Guess where the evil medicaid, medicare and SSI that conservatives hate, comes from? You rich conservatives getting investment income aint paying a dime for it, THE WORKERS ARE.

    In short, Romney is a dishonest man. That's not to say that Obama has not done some twisting of his own on occasion. But as an independent, I see far more "twisting" from the GOPers.

    September 18, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. vatoloke

    Will there even be a need to have debates now? That would be pai

    September 18, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |

    Mitt has the audacity to talk about 47% of Americans who do not pay taxes when he refuses to show his. Are you kidding me? Get out and vote against this arrogant screw up!

    September 18, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. Rex

    Americans want to hear the truth, they need to hear the truth. Obama has been lying to America for four years. America needs the truth.

    September 18, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  17. just for rand

    Geez Romney – at least try to win. Why are you making it so easy for Obama to win?

    September 18, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  18. CedarRapids

    "What Romney said is true. You can like it or not, but you can't change the truth of it."

    No its not true, not even close. The idea that 47% of people will vote dems purely because, in romney's words, they are lazy, irresponsible and unthinking 'victims' is insulting beyond belief and slaps the face of the single mom with 2 or 3 jobs trying to keep a roof over her kids head. And people like romney have the nerve to call Obama divisive.
    This is what the man who would be president thinks of almost half the population of the country.

    September 18, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  19. Brian in DC

    The libbies hate the truth when it is told to them so they stomp their feet like little whiny babies.

    September 18, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. Yosemite Sam

    "job is not to worry about those people."

    Not to worry Mitt, the feeling is mutual...take a hike....

    Obama 2012, because anything else is insanity

    September 18, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. Pointed

    I earn just over $100k per year and have never received public assistance. I voted for Obama but have been very disappointed by his presidency. I was hopeful that a viable candidtae would emerge that I could support. Mitt Romney is not that candidate. I have no doubt that Obama hasn't got the first clue how to help the economy. I have no doubt that Romney will make it worse. How depressing.

    September 18, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. the_dude

    How desparate are ofailure and cnn getting? I like how they accurately they corrected the misconception about ofailures remarks and clearly have no intention of doing that with the romney remarks. If ofailure is this desparate his campaign must be in real trouble. You know ofailure doesn't dare talk about the economic recovery or bailouts or taxes or the debt clock, etc, etc, etc.

    This is all ofailure has on romney, to send in spies to record special little videos.

    September 18, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. vatoloke

    Will there even be a need to have debates now? That would be painful to watch. Maybe he can have a debate with the empty chair.

    September 18, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  24. mark

    It hurts to hear the fact that you are a leach and a parasite on America. Unless you are an illegal immigrant (one of the groups Democrats play to to get Hispanic votes), you should have a hard time looking your self in the mirror knowing you are part of the reason 'YOUR' homeland is in a declining state.

    September 18, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. Mitts Rommel

    As I said before, Mitt is going to be crying for his mommy and running off the stage in tears, come debate time. The President is going to make him his biatch... This empty suit of a man has, until now, been all smoke and mirrors... now we know without any doubt whatsoever that he is nothing but blind ambition personified. He only wants to be president for the sake of being president... what does a man like that do when there is a global crisis and the entire world is watching him?... probably crap his pants and hide under the bed.

    September 18, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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