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. king ugbert

    Funny how Clinton's comments were about how things were when he was president. No comments about the job Obama has done. Consistent with his convention speech.

    September 21, 2012 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  2. Ginger Christensen-Kondash

    President Bill Clinton is correct...while clinton was president we became closer to what other industrialized nations provide citizens with their tax money and Obama has taken us one step futher to this point. It is very frustrating as an American citizen who has lived abroad and experienced first hand the European lifesyle and all that they benefits they receive from paying a higher tax rate...while here in the states most of our tax money funds defense (mainly troops abroad). I for one would rather have benefits that are modled after the Scandinavians school system, health care as well as social programs. We do not need to have military bases in all over the world with our troops...we have more advanced weapons and can be any place at a moments notice! We are wasting money that could go back the American people and social programs. I don't understand why social programs are considered welfare? Our county is about liberty and justice for all. I would love to hear Obama explain things to the American people the way Clinton talks to the American people...I think Clinton can connect all people and that is a great strenght. Don't get me wrong I will vote for Obama....he is a wonderful man! Obama needs to talk to people like Bill and not like a professor teaching a class! People also need to know that our lifestyle isn't as good as it is in Europe and that the GOP wants us to thing that Social is communism...there is a huge difference! The GOP play on the ignorance of people who haven't left main street!

    September 21, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  3. Jade77

    Romney needs to explain why he wants to be president. Because I think he wants to outdo his father. He's done everything else so why not run for Potus. Clearly he is not a man of the people.

    September 21, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  4. Dr. Pete

    It is BEYOND me why you GOPs even nominated stinkg Romney in the 1st actually trust someone who is still refusing to reveal his income tax forms...shouldn't trust be T

    September 21, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  5. DJones

    There is a world of difference between a hasty comment and a political record and platform. Every one of us have said things that came out wrong and were taken in a way we did not mean, politicians are no different. Any time you see some goof like Clinton, who would be serving time in prison right now if Bush hadn't pardoned him, try to make a big deal out of a comment while trying to distract people from things like 5 trillion dollars more debt, more unemployed people than ever, and an insane healthcare package that is going to target and tax 6 million of Americas poorest, I get more than a little disgusted. Obama plays the dirtiest politics in history, he has those around him do the dirty work, like Clinton, and then he reaps the benefits. Then is it backfires like when he had God and Jerusalem removed from the platform he makes others take the heat. Obama is a disgusting human being.

    September 21, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. Big Jilm

    I know far too many people who work several jobs or work contract jobs where they just don't make enough to pay income taxes. They are not lazy or looking for a hand out; they're doing the best they can with this market. Most people had to take a serious pay cut during the early 2000s -less income = less income taxes. Some of these people voted McCain and some voted for Obama in 2008.

    On the other hand, I know a great many people who do work full time jobs; some voted for McCain and some voted for Obama. So generalizing that 'only' poor people vote for Obama is ludicrous.

    We need more and better high-paying jobs. Industrialists shot themselves in the foot by shipping so many jobs over seas. Now we have less people working good jobs, less income tax being paid/collected, and the middle class has less buying power. And the industrialists complain that they can't sell their stocked shelves. Well, when you take away people's main income (or reduce it), no one can afford to buy your products. Net effect, people.

    September 21, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  7. Dr. Pete

    It is BEYOND me why you GOPs even nominated stinkg Romney in the 1st actually trust someone who is still refusing to reveal his income tax forms...shouldn't trust be THE NUMBER ONE ITEM IN ANY CANDIDATE?! HE WANTS TO DO THE SAME ON A NAT'L LEVEL....DON'T LET HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really look carefully at how better off you are now than before Obama took office and you'll notice you and our whole country ARE far better off! May God Bless you and America!

    September 21, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  8. Drew

    The GOP clowns are so confused right now, they don't know which way is up and which way is down. On the one hand they argue vehemently against federal taxation, and yet, on the other hand they argue that the poor and middle class should pay more in federal taxes. So which is it? Less taxes? More taxes? Clearly, they are staking a claim that should be the death knell for their election chances: Reduce taxes on the wealthy and increase taxes on the poor and middle class. Are they serious?! The GOP has jumped the shark!

    September 21, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  9. zaphed

    I like Slick willy.. I wish many southerners have brains 10% of his..

    September 21, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  10. adam

    he will choke on his words

    September 21, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  11. Mack

    But he cares 100% for the 1%. Leave no millionaire/billionaire behind!

    September 21, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  12. Lisa

    I'm seeing individuals step up and say that they are part of the 47% – the working poor, disabled, etc.

    Another portion of that 47% are people who find enough tax loopholes that their tax burden is zero. Not one of them has stepped forward to proudly say "I am not a burden, I made over half a million last year but I paid no taxes".

    Romney (as we saw) paid a lower percentage than most of us last year (15%). His HUGE charitable giving no doubt helped but it's difficult not to wish some of that cash had been given to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and such instead of the wealthy Mormon Church who already owns ostentatious palaces.

    I think it is entirely reasonable, given his 47% comments, to know more about what he has paid in taxes other years. He needs to prove that he isn't part of the burden.

    September 21, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. Wil

    Come on slick Willie, 9-11 was your fault, Just like the Financial Meltdown was GWB 's Fault.

    September 21, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Clarence Conner

    Of course Bill Clinton would chime in on the 47% – he helped create them.

    September 21, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  15. Sick and Tired

    But will Obama have to explain his redistribution of wealth comment???

    September 21, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. bugmetoo

    Who is Romney running against again?

    September 21, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  17. truth

    Is this really going to be a race. Romney is a joke that hasn't really had to deal with any adversity in his life. Which is no fault of his at all, but it is coming across in this election. Obama is not perfect, but he has done an excellent job with the crap he got handed. Republicans have to get out of their bubble and wake up. It is sad man

    September 21, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  18. k3citizen

    Slick Willy knows what he's talking about.

    September 21, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. Wish Bill would run again

    Bill Clinton for prez 2016

    September 21, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. Brian

    Everyone spends so much time talking about the "welfare Queen" 2011 we spent 59 billion on social welfare, but we also spent 92 billion on CORPORATE welfare and subsidies, some of which went to companies already making record profits. That's nearly double...

    September 21, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. chefdugan

    Romney only opens his mouth to change feet. The Republicans held their noses and nominated him, then he picked Ghengis Kahn for a running mate. How stupid can he get ? Stay tuned and find out.

    September 21, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. JerseyBill

    Who cares what this lecherous old fool thinks?

    September 21, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Everytime Romney puts his foot in his mouth like that, it hurts his campaign and the rest of the Republicans lower on the ballot. Tommy Thompson is complaining about it as well. Romney isn't explaining himself well enough and is going to lose the race if he can't have a censor on his mouth. He could be seen as worse than Biden.

    September 21, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  24. rosco

    As Carney Says 'Terrorist Attack,' Obama Still Cites Anti-Islam Film

    September 21, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. unknown11

    No doubt about it, Romney should have been more careful when speaking. He learned that when you are a republican, someone is always watching. There are no private moments. You cannot make a relaxed, imprecise comment. Someone will be there to pick it apart. Just the way it is. And this may cause him to lose the race. The nature of politics is that any slip up is captured by your oponent.

    That is especially true with the president's campaign strategy today. He is running a divide and conquor race. Any wedge that he can find to fracture off a piece of America, and keep them voting with emotion instead of brains, works in his favor. If you think about it logically, he has been a failure. Now of course the left will come back at that statement telling you 10 different people or groups of people to blame, but the fact remains that he could not get the job done. But, again, he will not appeal to logic. He is not going to run on his record. He is running on emotion. As long as the electorate falls for that emotional garbage, he will probably win. And gee, won't it be great to take America further down the road that we are currently on? Really. Who would want that?

    September 21, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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