October 4th, 2012
11:39 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney on 47% comments: I was 'completely wrong'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney said he was "completely wrong" when he argued that nearly half of Americans were "victims" and dependent on government.

The admission came Thursday as the GOP presidential candidate sought to clarify his controversial "47%" comments.

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"Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right," Romney said on Fox News. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."

Last month, secretly recorded video of Romney at a May fundraiser showed the Republican candidate saying 47% of Americans will vote for President Barack Obama "no matter what."

"There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

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The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that for tax year 2011, 46% of households will end up owing nothing in federal income taxes. But if payroll taxes are counted, the number of non-payer households drops precipitously - to an estimated 18% in 2011.

Adding to his argument about entitlement, Romney said his "job is not to worry about those people."

"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he added.

"What I have to do is convince the 5 percent to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful."

After the videos, which were posted on the progressive news website Mother Jones, caught fire, Romney called a last-minute press conference with pool reporters while he was in California at the time.

The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged the comments were "off the cuff" and "not elegantly stated," but he defended the main point of the message, saying he was criticizing the increasing size of government and entitlement programs.

"We have a very different approach – the president and I – between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams," Romney said.

The following day, Romney still stuck by his comments and elaborated on the logistical reasoning behind his remarks.

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"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."

In the first presidential debate Wednesday, Obama surprised political observers by not going after Romney on the comments, as he has on the campaign trail in the last two weeks.

On Fox News Thursday night, Romney was asked what he would have said if the president had brought up the controversial statements–which is when the GOP nominee went as far as to say he was "wrong."

He then argued that, if elected, he would represent all Americans, not just half.

"I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100% and that's been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100%. When I become president, it will be helping the 100%."

What’s your reaction to Mitt Romney saying his secretly recorded comment that nearly half of Americans were victims dependent on government was "completely wrong?" Share your thoughts below or using the hashtag #47percent.

Filed under: 2012 • Economy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (1,403 Responses)
  1. FlipFloppyHasNoCore

    Holy crap, he flip-floped again! He can't stop him self.

    October 4, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  2. helix10461

    Aww.. Mitt will say or do anything to get elected. The 47% comment was only true when I was talking to rich folks, I am anti-abortion when I am in a republican state, clearly I am against abortion, right now, since I am New York, I have no idea what are you talking about Mr President, that is Mitt' style, say or do anything to get elected.

    October 4, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  3. Pow

    It is completely wrong for the American public, but when in a secure location and trying to swoon a bunch of rich people it's exactly the right thing they want to hear.

    Too bad it was taped, you know you meant what you said and it didn't come out wrong.

    October 4, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  4. RogerInSTL

    Too late.

    October 4, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  5. helix10461

    Mitt the twit is Mitt the hit in the debate but he is still Mitt the twit.

    October 4, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    "No, I was completely wrong with that 47% figure. I think its actually more like 63%"

    October 4, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  7. Daph18

    Another Republican trying to live in the shadow of his father.

    October 4, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. Asa Fludd

    I would consider this another flip-flop.
    Enough said.

    October 4, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  9. Abdullah

    All those issues you've flip flopped on? This apology is sincere, I truly believe Romney is not lying to everyone 🙂

    October 4, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  10. John

    Another Romney flip flop. It goes on and on. Romney is a pathological liar.

    October 4, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  11. nunya

    Wow, this guy... he never ceases to amaze me with how wishy washy Used Car Salesman he is.. He will DO ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED.

    October 4, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  12. gmenfan54

    Too late "Flipper".

    October 4, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  13. grace

    Good for Romney, atleast he didn't twist it and try to argue semantics or provide some excuse (like our current administration would). After last night my vote has shifted from Obama to Romney.

    October 4, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  14. neal

    and of course MITTENS will say anything to get into the white house...and he'll sell anybody out...and of course flip flop

    October 4, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  15. SimpsonHomr

    Flip Flop much Mittens?

    October 4, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  16. norma jean

    This is one mouth full that Romney cannot back off of.........It was said at a very expensive dinner for very expensive people and secretly recorded so that we...the little people woulld hear just what he thinks of us!!!!!...It will not go away and as Omar Khayyam said....he cannot cancel half a line..".nor all thy tears wash out a word of it"...It will follow him...forever!!

    October 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. Susan

    He said exactly what he meant.

    October 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  18. Fred

    Here, everyone! Have another helping of Mitt Waffles with tasty spin syrup and pork barrel butter... YUM! This guy wants to be Commander-in-Thief!

    October 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  19. john

    Oh no Mr Romney, you meant every word. We heard you and you said it and it rang true. Lie if it makes you feel good but you can't fool us all.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  20. Jack Be Humble

    I respect a man who can admit he was wrong. I am still not going to vote for Mr.Romney, but my respect has gone up. That will be handy if he wins the Presidency.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  21. Penny Wright

    Romney told the truth about his feelings, and now he is lying.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  22. Both_R_Losers

    Which Romney is it today, Flip Flop.

    October 5, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  23. observer

    too late...we know what you think of anyone outside of your economic circle. America, and the world, need someone who will work to benefit everyone and not try to sway voters with yet another falsehood.

    October 5, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  24. Ryan Wenzel

    Last week he was doubling down on his comments. What's changed since then?

    October 5, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  25. Prudente

    Being a failure is more commonly known as a "loser" and that I agree with Romney and you suck at that.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
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