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. Kathleen

    4 More for 44!

    September 21, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. Chedar

    Actually Mitt Romney belongs to the 47% that do not pay income tax. This is the very reason why he can not show his income tax for the last ten years. Come to think of that.

    September 21, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. Zoey

    If Romney would have stopped his comments about the 47% at the point where he said they wouldn't vote for him, that's one thing but to go on and on and on about how "those people" think of themselves as victims who the government owes money to is just insulting. Those continued comments show who Romney really is. He thinks of himself as an elitist when in actuality he is a puppet for the Koch brothers and their ilk.
    What a fool......

    September 21, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. starks

    He makes it look so easy.

    September 21, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. LBAM

    A debate, Uh I cannot wait for Obama to eat him up like a cookie. I just can't wait..

    September 21, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Lynn

    How much is Mr. Clinton being paid to be Obama's spokesperson? I have never seen this kind of silliness in politics. Oh, and CNN – thanks for keeping your site balanced and impartial (cough, cough).

    September 21, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. ana

    I hope Obama will hit him hard, under the belt kinda, in debates on this issue, that rich guy says he doesnt care 47% who are not paying taxes because he cannot convince them to take personal responsibility and then he comes out and says he cares about 100% and create 12 million jobs, from where? from his rare end? Doesnt he know that paying taxes are not choice, if they have job they will pay, All idiots who said that comment didnt make any difference in their opinion on Ramoney are total ignorants.

    September 21, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. blake

    You know Obama is on the ropes when he has to rely heavily on Bill Clinton to fight his battles for him. Can't wait till we oust this bozo in November.

    September 21, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. TheTraveler

    " ... Romney has admitted the lack of eloquence in his remarks but stood by the crux of his argument."

    I wonder how this guy would EVER be able to handle foreign relations where decorum and etiquette are needed.

    "Welcome to the White House Sheik Abdullah! We've prepared a special dinner, American style, BBQ pork ribs ... "

    September 21, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    There is NO burden. That is simply a fact. 47% of Americans pay ZERO income taxes.

    Many of the excuses for the number, given by the Democrats are FALSE!

    Most seniors, for instance, pay taxes in the same ratio as they did before they retired. The very poor pay no taxes, because they ONLY have SS. Those in the middle class, have other income, to supplement their SS, so they ARE paying income taxes. The Democrats would have you believe that ALL seniors are not paying taxes, which is entirely FALSE!

    September 21, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. watchfuiiiii

    We need a new amendment that allows someone to return to the office of president after two full terms have past. This guy should be president again. Even with his trangressions in his personal life, he is the best president we have had in decades. He ran the country with a surplus in the budget. Debt clock went the other way. Reagan stood up to the Soviets but Clinton had the economy humming. No one likes to remember that unemployment was over 10 under Reagan. Clinton was the best since FDR.

    September 21, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  12. Critical Thinking

    It will hurt Romney to a portion of the independent voters but the undecided will turn toward Romney in the closing week. But what is more disgraceful and shameful is the manner this President reacted to the bombing of our sovereign land and the assasination of our Ambassador and 3 other americans. He knew that this was a terrorist attack, so what does he do. Does he go to the situation room and discuss how to deal with the act of war? NO, he fires up airforce one and heads out to Las Vegas for a fundraiser. And how much attention does the press give to this shameful He is the most shameless and disrespectful president this country has ever seen. Agree or disagree with his policy but this reaction to the murdering of Americans on our land is unforgivable. Shame on you Mr. President, shame on you.

    September 21, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. N. Shapiro

    Good for Bill Clinton, tells it like it is.
    and – Romney is a pop-off, no thought, can't be trusted with the nuclear button.
    Romney's support is oil companies, who rip us off at the gas pump to put money in the Romney campaign, and plan to buy tax breaks, making the working people and middle class pay the billionaires short fall.

    September 21, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. JPX

    Obama will easily win.

    September 21, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. Will South Dakota

    Romney cant help himself, hes hasnt no idea what low income , or middleclass face each day to provide for our families.......RomneyCare Plan....let them poor/middleclass fend for them selfs.

    September 21, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Ed1

    Look it up 47% of the people don't pay taxes and they don't want change. How many people are on welfare and of those people how many have been on for generations might surprise you. Obama has ruined the middle class with all of his giveaway programs and Clinton wasn't much better. Anybody that gets a government check doesn't want to see change but about 20% and they are the people who worked and paid into SS and medicare the rest should submit to random drug tests before they receive and government checks like I had to do in the private sector.

    What can't you focus on what Obama said in 2008 and now in 2012 almost word for word looks like a rerun in speeches.

    This Country is headed for a cliff and you can thank Obama and is party of idiots for that remember he had control of both houses when he took office and the voters got fed up with his no leadership and out of control spending. They didn't work across the isles they just shoved everything down our throats we can't take another four years with Obama in the office he lied his way into.

    I don't take anything that comes out of Clinton's mouth as the truth he still like the rest of the Democrats use fuzzy math. When I went to school 1+1=2 not what ever you say it is. Fact check has already shown that Clinton's speech was full of bull when it came to numbers.

    September 21, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Al

    Bill most of us that work fell the same way towards those that collect unearned money from the tax payers. I'm sure that your lifestyle would not understand that but we that are still holding on to the Middle class are well aware that our money is being wasted. And it's not the peoples fault, it's Obama, had he come into office while he had control of both Houses he could have worked on getting the private sector to open jobs to locals, but that is not the way of the Democrats, their way is to raise taxes in what ever way they can, and then at the 11th hour say that the other party is blocking work programs. But to bad that the priorities were not set to those that want to work, but to raise taxes on those few that are still working.

    September 21, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. true blue

    It was 12 plus years I work for a Mom & Pop shop,the owner was getting of age for Medicare he had plenty of money he transfer everything in his spouse name that was years younger than him just to collect his services. didn't understand it at the time why would a person with so much money worry about Medicare dollars then I open a business dealing with government services and talk about eyes wide open. Don't get me wrong he put into it but to take from a system when you have is so selfish and greedy. the rich will such this country dry just to save theirs. SO LYING BOY DON'T HIDE BEHIND YOUR LYING MOM. if america vote these crooks in office just remember you ask for it, trust me you will get it.

    September 21, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. matt

    Please tell me that Biden will have an opportunity to speak at the debates? It will be a huge lift for Republicans.

    September 21, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. DoubleEM

    Zakaria was suspended for been a plagiarist...
    Pathetic media company and pathetic political compain.

    September 21, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. lassikb

    Why do people care about Billy? He is unable to be the president again. why does he matter so much?

    September 21, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. BaHaHaHa!!!!

    Can't wait for the presidential debates...Mitt, you've got a lot of 'splainin' to do...

    September 21, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. BLKMANinAmerica

    I love President Clinton so much, he just keeps it real.

    September 21, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. Puddin

    I wish one of the TV channels would replay Pres. Clinton's speech; I would like to hear it again. I wonder if Romney has ever seen, first hand, anyone with twenty years' experience who lost their six figure incomes in 2008 and have been beating their heads against the wall ever since, trying to find another decent job. This happened in my family, and it is an emotional, gut-wrenching and stressful experience for all of us. Human Resource Depts. are putting it out there that before anyone is considered for a job with them, they must currently be employed. It is absolutely exasperating and rediculous! I really fear for this country if Romney just happens to win the presidency, and if the vote can be surpressed, he could win. It seems no one is putting much thought into that. And, by the way, this person has not taken one "hand-out" from the government; he has had to use his savings he had planned to save for his retirement to live on. I am so weary of hearing the Repubs. critisize the president because HE hasn't "created" enough jobs. "He's had three years to clean up THEIR mess." Wall St. big corporations "create" jobs, but they see how "thankful" those employees are who have jobss, so they work them to pieces so they can bring in more profits for themselves. I don't think I've seen a time when we were all so vulnerable.

    September 21, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. Ames IA

    Isn't it clear to people by now? The more you learn about Romney the less people like him. He didn't do great in either primary in Iowa despite spending gobs of money here – why? – He was around enough for people to know he is a weasel. He won the primary this time around because he outspent his opponents by huge margins with a scorched earth strategy and wasn't in any of those states long enough for the dust to settle. It would be an interesting poll to conduct today through SC, FL, GA, ... how many of the GOP primary participants that supported Romney would choose a different GOP candidate tomorrow if they had a chance.

    September 21, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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