September 21st, 2012
01:48 AM ET
10 years ago

Clinton: '47 percent' comments put 'heavier burden' on Romney in debates

(CNN) – Republican nominee Mitt Romney's "47 percent" comment will put "a heavier burden on him in the debates," former President Bill Clinton said Thursday.

Fresh off a rousing speech to the Democratic National Convention, the popular Democrat told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that Romney will have to further explain comments captured on a secretly recorded video at a private fund-raising event in May, where the GOP nominee said nearly half of Americans will automatically vote for the president because they are dependent on government and consider themselves "victims."

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Asked if Romney's comments will significantly alter the race for the White House, Clinton said, "I think it puts a heavier burden on him in the debates to talk about what he meant."

President Barack Obama and Romney will face-off in three presidential debates in October. And while Obama currently has an advantage over Romney in recent polls, debate performances could tilt an already tight race.

Since the video was posted to the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones earlier this week, Romney has admitted the lack of eloquence in his remarks but stood by the crux of his argument.

Clinton, conceding that some Americans are trapped in a cycle of dependency, touted bipartisan welfare reform achieved during his presidency and noted that the amount the U.S. government spent during his administration on entitlement programs was "not out of line with other advanced countries."

"The 47%, those that are adults, they do pay taxes. They pay Social Security taxes. They pay Medicare taxes. They pay state and local taxes," said Clinton on Romney's comments in an interview that will air in full on Sunday.

“But all of those people who don't pay ordinary income tax would love to be back paying ordinary income tax. They'd love to have a full-time job instead of a part-time job, or any job at all, or be able to get a pay raise.”

But with Romney's potentially damaging comments and the president's recent advantage in polls, is an electoral landslide feasible?

"It's possible," said Clinton, though he added it depends on the turnout of younger voters, a group the president carried handily in 2008.

"I still think you have to assume it's going to be a close race, assume it's a hard fight and then fight through it," said Clinton. "But I think the president has the advantage now. We did have a very good convention. He got a good boost out of it."

To catch Fareed's entire interview with President Clinton, tune in for Fareed Zakaria GPS this Sunday at 10am and 1pm eastern.

Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Billie

    Geez Louise! Enough with the 47%. The middle east and north Africa are on fire, the Secret Service, DHS and General Accounting Office are riddled with scandal and corruption, the postal service is going broke, unemployment is ridiculous, gas and grocery prices are crippling the consumer . . . Isn't there anything else more important to focus on than the 47% comment? Let it go already.

    September 21, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. David Pleasant

    Bill Clinton, now there's a real figure that promotes respect for females. A rapist and one who seduces his female staff. I hear Monica Lewinsky's book will be out soon. Have you posted that on your site yet?

    September 21, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. Charles Moore

    Wish the other people would keep their comments to themselves, we would like to hear what the candates have to say, they are the ones who will be elected.

    September 21, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Dean

    Not as heavy a burden as Obama's record.

    September 21, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. mary

    Our country has laws that take precedence over any politician .
    Tax laws , drug laws and a host of others .

    Getting elected does Not guarantee change ,
    Just that the person will try to get the rest of the politicians to cooperate with change .

    Some times tho , the jerks out number the good representatives .


    September 21, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Too bad

    The only thing worse then the current President is Romeny.

    Having said that Romney was right...we are bankrupt and those social programs are not going to be what "fixes" this country.

    Frankly the next 4-years are going to be a lot worse regardless of who wins and the truly pathetic part is no one will change we will just keep blaming the past.

    September 21, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. miki thinks

    Well, when Romney thinks that the camera s are off, he lets his guard down, and his disdain for those folks who can't go to a $50,000 dinner really shows. When the carmeras are rolling his opinion rolls as well. Romney is now 100% for the American voter. While this actor is relatively harmless on the campaign trail, such gafts as president on an interational tour could lead to... OK. Lights, Cameras, Action, Hot air.

    September 21, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Tom

    Here's a SOLIDLY Republican State:

    Roadmap to Prosperity all the way baby!!

    Mississippi – 1st in poverty.
    Mississippi – 50th in education.
    Mississippi – 1st in obesity.
    Mississippi – 3rd in Teen Pregnancy

    For every $1 Federal Dollar it contributes it receives back $2.47 in Federal Aid!

    Whooohoooo!! Wait.... What??

    September 21, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Dan

    How on earth do you call an American (who served his country) and works two jobs just to feed his family a "freeloader"?

    Doesn't Romney understand this Patriotic American didn't flee to France and pays a higher tax rate than the $20 million per year Romney?

    The way I see it, Romney and his family are the "freeloaders". Romney should tell his sons to serve in the military instead of running around playing politics for their daddy who gave them $100 million tax free.

    September 21, 2012 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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