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. Harvey

    I don't know about Romney's numbers, but one respect he is right. I do not mind helping some one out who can't work, is temporarily down on their luck, or is working in a poverty level job. But I will be d*ammed if I want my tax dollars going to someone who won't work and simply leaches off the system.

    September 18, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. Oh boy

    Mr. Obama hais assured. It's over, and they don't even realize it

    September 18, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. a slozomby

    GE also paid 0 taxes last year. will mitt stand up to greedy corps that leech off the government?

    September 18, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Tim

    Once 50% of the population is dependent on Government assistance, democracry is over.
    Obama has us marching downt the road of Europe. His policies are unstainable, he is unwilling to make the tough choices because his first priority is pandering for votes not getting American back on track. I am glad this video came out.

    September 18, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. CommonSensePlease

    His logic is flawed. A lot of people who are not dependent on government help support Obama. I am one .

    September 18, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. LMC

    MItt is just plain out of touch. He knows nothing about the lives of the average American!

    September 18, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. Laura

    What he said wasn't that wrong. I have a 23 yr old college kid, that has been brain washed by Rutgers into socialism. She believes she is owed a good life. I have other family that believe the government should help everyone. Not just children or old people. I'm not a republican, but I do think some of what Mitt Romney said has value.

    September 18, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. DandyStryker

    "Uh, I'm actually going to to, I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was. And with regards to, uh, I'll go back and take at what was said there." [Romney on Sean Hannity's radio show in February.]

    The last thing we need in the White House is an ideologue who can't admit his mistakes.

    September 18, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. Olaf Big

    What is there to defend? What he said makes no sense. Millions of successful independent people, who don't get any payouts from the government support Obama, because they think that he is a better president than Romeny would be. I earn a very good salary. I pay almost 30 per cent of my income in taxes (federal, state and social security combined), and I still don't think that lowering taxes so that I can take home five hundred, or even five thousand dollars more a year is enough or a reason to vote for Romney or Ryan, or even that it is going to solve any of our economic problems, except making the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.

    September 18, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. zooni

    Fire a bunch of people out source their jobs to China and when they go on unemployment which they paid into to, call them the problem. The problem is the insatiable greed of corporations buying the democracy of a nation. Why would the GOP pick a banker with a history of fraud for their presidential candidate over Ron Paul. The answer is he was selected by the corporate masters.

    September 18, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. Latinos

    Way to go Romney "finally someone has told the truth" Romney/Ryan" they have our vote.

    September 18, 2012 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. angel

    Did he make that remark thinking that only republicans pay taxes? Nobody like to pay taxes. We pay it because is that law. The wealthy pay it for the same reason. They just have the resources to avoid paying as much taxes as the law impose by the use of good accountants and loopholes. May be by setting bank accounts in other countries, or claiming tax credits for a horse...

    September 18, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  13. Hey

    America is not a for profit business,it is people's lives,I'm not some number on romneys spreadsheet. How greedy and selfless these people are,and they wonder why people go off the deep end.

    September 18, 2012 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. GrimReaper

    The Republicans' attempt to spread a clip of Obama from 1998 is a laughably weak counter-attack. Their Reagan-worship has led to many paltry efforts to emulate his effective rhetoric, and so now they imagine that Americans in 2012 will be as responsive to the anti-USSR vocabulary as they were in 1984. They think that the American people will fall out of their chairs in disbelief after hearing Obama say that he believes that "some redistribution" is appropriate. I guess they think we are too dumb to understand that ALL TAXATION IS REDISTRIBUTION.

    Redistribution is not a bad word; it's all a question of the degree of redistribution. There is a huge spectrum between unbridled, untaxed capitalism and communism. Any cohesive society that doesn't like to see children starving in the streets will move away from the absolute laissez-faire state.

    Grover Norquist and his ilk pretend that the difference between capitalism and communism is one just one tiny step, whereas those of us who haven't imbibed the Tea Party's toxic brew know that the gap between the two ideologies is large enough to accommodate a thousand steps, and that we would be heartless not to take some of those steps. If this were the 19th century, Grover would be vociferously denouncing child labor laws, characterizing them as unacceptable infringements on economic freedom which would no doubt transform this country into a commie welfare state.

    September 18, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  15. Facepalm28

    Romney's best shot to distract from his latest gaffe is an obscure Obama quote from FOURTEEN years ago? Really?

    Larry in Houston, you're exactly correct; the Republicans won't win in 2016 either. By then, we'll be in full and undeniable recovery mode, Obama's policies will have been proven successful to all but the most obstinate right-wingers, and any reasonably competent Democrat will have little trouble winning on the basis of that legacy. Twelve straight years of intelligent Democratic administration, for the first time since FDR/Truman (worked out pretty well then).

    September 18, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Boy oh boy, he shows exactly what a snob he is. Those people he's referring to are a lot of middle class who lost their jobs, their homes, unemployment ran out, the companies aren't hiring long term unemployed!!!
    He won't work for the American people, he'll work for the ones who have money. He is a snob, his wife and family are too, it goes without saying. He may help people within his Mormon religion but otherwise he won't help.
    Obama is working for these people who lost their jobs and homes, etc.
    Let's not forget Romney outsourced thousands of jobs, he's not for us, and where are his tax statements, he's hiding money overseas, that's so obvious.

    September 18, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  17. The Truth

    The truth hurts doesn't it? I believe Romney is absolutely correct and most of America knows this to be the truth. More Americans are on food stamps, welfare, disability, social security (under 65), and are relying on the government to feed them scraps. Congrats US on your recent drop to 18th place in the free economy rankings. Looks like your socialism is working.

    September 18, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  18. JeffinIL

    Well, he is doing the personal responsibility thing. He's owning what he said.
    I'm not sure this is the time and subject for that but what do I know.

    September 18, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  19. Pat

    "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.

    I would rather be seen as a recipeint of some "redistribution" than as a "victim" as Romney terms it. Certainly, no one in my lower "class" would be able to pay for a huge government project like, lets say, the freeway system, but it sure is good that an earlier generation "redistributed" some tax dollars so tha we have it today. Romney and the big boys who have been sucking the life out of our economy, just don't want to give it up. Greed is a horrible motivator in some folks. Don't you think?

    September 18, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  20. GOP white man

    All I can say, is that, based on the response is that liberals LOVE to pay taxes and seem to look forward to getting MORE than they paid into.

    September 18, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  21. Sayonara

    8 of 10 states w/highest% of filers who didn't pay any Fed income tax are RED states voted McCain in 08.
    7 of 10 states w/lowest% of filers who didn't pay Fed income tax are BLUE states voted Obama in 08.

    September 18, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  22. Todd in DC

    Many of that 47% are elderly, disabled, veterans, wealthy who avoid taxes, and right wing repubs who think welfare and foodstamps are what "those" people get.

    Forget the fact that most of the states that get more federal money than pay out in taxes are red states.

    Seriously, is this really the best the GOP can do?

    September 18, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. Flint Rock

    Pretty funny to keep hearing from Hamburger Heads who claim polls are slanted in favor of Democrats. Check the facts (if you can) . . . all major polls have an incredible track record of accuracy for a long period of time.

    September 18, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  24. nick287

    Mitt is right. He paid more taxes than all of us commenting here aded together. But obviously if you're looking for someone to blame for your own failure to succeed, you'll vote for Obama. He'll walk on water and put food on our tables, and give us money without asking us to work. And then you wake up.

    September 18, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. Obama Mama

    Mitt Romney the gift that keeps on
    The Brits were right, he has the big foot in mouth disease.
    We need someone more thoughtful with his words and will not start another war by his thoughtlessness.
    He repeatedly disses seniors, immigrants, and working class.
    Stick a fork in him he's done.

    September 18, 2012 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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