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. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Here is a "dream team" moment. Let's say President Obama wins reelection. Now, here we go. Ruth Ginsberg announces her retirement from the Supreme Court – President Obama nominates Mario Cuomo to replace her. This causes Antonin Scalia to have an apoplectic fit and cannot fulfill his duties on the Court – President Obama nominates Bill Clinton to replace him (precedent was set when W. H. Taft was nominated by Warren Harding). Clarence Thomas resigns in disgust – President Obama nominates John Kerry to replace him. Bazinga!

    September 21, 2012 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. danita

    who in the heck cares about what Clinton saids? I do know everyone that Clinton has endorsed since leaving the White House has lost their campaign and I hope the same for this one. Lets go Romney 2012... It time we get this 47% to working so we can apply our tax dollars else where.

    September 21, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  3. ST

    While discussing this issue of "47%" with my friends who are not Americans, not even a single person came to Romney's side. They thought the man is not prepared at all for the job. They said it has never happened in anywhere in this globe, you want to be a leader and you eliminate half of what you want to lead. It does not sound at all in any ear!

    September 21, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  4. Peter Wolfe

    The more important question to Mr Romney is "Where is your tax returns?" I'd hammer Mr Romney to pieces for you have no right to complain till you do your patriotic duty to the American people than to show your tax returns to the general public than you would have denegrating welfare recievers. It's flat wrong that you demonize the poor but you evade taxes left and right, then you should have no creddibility in my eyes and that of the american people.

    September 21, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Chris

    Romney is right. The press is spinning this because communications is a "liberal arts" degree and that's what liberals do. I lost my job under the Obama administration, I lost a house under Obama that I put 20% down under Bush – the banks under Obama's worthless programs wouldn't work with me because of the equity I had initially put down, I dusted myself off, took a lower paying job and I'm working my butt off to stay afloat. Under Obama my health care costs have gone up steadily each year, my coverage is now worse than ever thanks to ObamaCare. This guy is bankrupting America at the fastest pace ever. Real unemployment is as worse as ever. I AM NOT RICH, I'M NOT WELL OFF, I'm very very very middle class and I wouldn't vote Obama at any cost. He panders to the poor for their vote and he will surpress them forever. People that vote for Obama are like dogs – you feed your dog so he will come back, the dog doesn't know any better and doesn't know how to fend for himself. If you vote for Obama, you have the intelligence of the dog.

    September 21, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  6. Skylarro Heynow

    Good Morning Obama Haters!!! LOL Clinton is the maaaannnn!! Romney Sucks 2012

    September 21, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  7. Dave

    >>President Barack Obama and Romney will face-off...<<

    Fareed, "face-off" is a noun. When you are using this expression as a verb (which is its origin), there is no need for a hyphen: "President Barack Obama and Romney will face off...".

    September 21, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  8. susan

    I don't agree with Romney at all, but to lighten up the subject I think we ought to get rid of Hawaii all together. I live in the Big Island over 50% on the island is on welfare and to make things more appeticing they hate all people from the mainland with a passion. Having said that the day we "retreat" they will be eating each other up, because there is no way they are going back to eating roots and fish ( well whatever fish is left anyway). Each kid in Hawaii gets 600 dollars a month in cash plus food stamps, plus excellent Medicaid with 0 deductibles, housing, car insurance, cell phone, early child care education, transportation from door to door, even super cheap washers and dryers, etc, etc. Thanks to the food stamp program the "locals" demographics have grown to huge levels because it pays off to get pregnant, so every island girl and boy right in high school they start a family....a big family. Hey, we live in paradise, the haoles are footing the bill and the waves are just right. Aloha

    September 21, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Chris

    Nothing new to talk about, enough with the 47% who cares. What we all agree on is Obama has too many people on welfare and food stamps (Most all time).

    September 21, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  10. Kathy n Indiana

    If corporations are people my friends, then Romney should include them in his 47% of losers because many of those big guys pay no taxes either!

    September 21, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  11. Jenna NYC

    Bill should be ashamed to help Obama.

    September 21, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  12. bushfailledus

    Clinton has such a great way of explaining things. I hope the Republlicans are listening. they can learn something for a change.

    September 21, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  13. Lionel

    Clinton reminded voters during the convention that the Jobs score over the last 50 years is Democrats 52 million and Republicans 24 million. Obama has created more jobs than Bush did in 8 years. 4.5 million in the last 29 months.

    The fact of the matter is, Obama inherited an economic mess, two wars and trillions given away to the 1% in the form of the Bush Tax Cuts. Now Republicans are complaining that Obama did not clean up their mess fast enough.

    Very well put Clinton. Obama in a landslide.

    Obama 2012

    September 21, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  14. Chuckles The Clown

    Romney is going to win in a landslide.

    Not really, i just wanted to make you Republicans feel better.
    Ha ha ha ha ha.

    September 21, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  15. Canuck

    Let's see, Romney says he won't represent 47% of the American people at a fundraiser, then he says, no, he'll actually be representing 100%. So, when was he lying??? The debates are going to be interesting.

    September 21, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  16. 90909090

    clinton is serial womanizer and pig

    September 21, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  17. Debby

    Actually Clinton alot of us are not stupid we knew Romney meant only the people who take wellfare and food stamps for granted while either working under the table or the hours they prefer vs. 9 to 5.

    September 21, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. Ancient Texan

    Yes Bill, they do pay payroll taxes and state and local taxes.....and then get a large tax credit in the form of a check. Romney knew that the retired and the truely down and out are part of the 47% and understands their plight. It's the "career" welfare group that he was not expecting their vote as they like the system that Obama is running ads encouraging them to apply for foodstamps and disability.

    September 21, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  19. streetdude66

    Despite the GOP insistance that Obama hasnt done anything as Potus Obama has higher rating in the polls. Thats because the WH has proven they have done plenty & conceded that there is alot ore that needs to be done. Still the GOp think if they babble & lie about his record long enough it will somehow tilt the poll #s in Rpmneys favor despite Mitts ever changing stance on every topic. Mitt has Etch-A-Sketched so many times on topics the knobs are falling off the dam thing. How can you vote for a guy who keeps changing his story? Obama/Biden 2012 its a lock

    September 21, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Not only do the "47%" comments put a heavier burden on Romney, Romney keeps adding on to those burdens by grasping onto to every "crumb of words" Obama says. Common sense should tell Romney he's being distracted, what's wrong with Romney? Today he says this, tomorrow he says something else, it's like he's chasing his own tail.

    September 21, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. Lisa

    I miss Clinton so much.

    September 21, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. Lisa

    Former President Clinton is correct. I would love to have a decent raise. This year I asked for a raise that was equal to the cost of living increase so that I would retain the purchasing power I had last year. Of course, that is NOT what I got, I got less, because "we just don't have the money to do that" was the response. Yet, they seem to find the money to spend on other things that they feel were "needed". I would love to pay additional taxes besides the payroll, state and local taxes I pay. I am not on any type of assistance and have only been so one time when I was very young. I received $10.00 a month in food stamps. I spent that on cans of tuna, bread and peanut butter, better a cold sandwich than nothing. Many of my co-workers are getting food stamps because they have kids, I do not. So your taxes are going to supplement their incomes, does that seem fair? Would you not prefer that our boss raise our wage so we would not have to rely on you to live?

    September 21, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  23. horf

    If Obama wins Florida, Ohio, and Virginia it will be a landslide.

    September 21, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. TSB8C

    People aren't mad because Romney spoke the truth. They are mad because they didn't want to hear it. The IRS confirms that 47% of American households do not pay any federal income tax, and many of them actually get money back. This is fact. And 30% of Obama's most ardent supporters do in fact rely on some form of public assistance as Romney stated. If you ride a bus or train or subway to work or school each day, you are relying on a government subsidized service. If you have a home with flood insurance on it, that is a government subsidized service. If you are or did attend school on a government grant, that was a subsidy. If you have an elderly parent living on social security and/or using Medicare rather than their own retirement savings or being supported by you and other family members, you are a mooch off the government. The truth is, way more than the 47% actually rely on government handouts and subsidies. We may not want to hear it, but it is the plain truth the Dems don't want to tell us, and it is the biggest reason our nation is over $2 trillion in debt.

    September 21, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  25. Jeff

    We sadly miss the point when any of us look at this so-called 47% like they are a bunch of mooches. Some might be, but there are many who want to work and fully contribute. The opportunity is to finally get agressive about growing our economy and creating real opportunities for them, to raise them up. Food stamps, unemployment checks, welfare help people over a hump, but real economic growth and the jobs and prospierity that comes with it help people more long term. Which is better for the human spirit? The personal dignity that comes from being a provider to your Family, earning your own way and contributing to our Country.

    September 21, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
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