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)

    Can American afford to elect a president that is not consitant with his words? shine your eye America

    October 5, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  2. mb2010a

    Flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop...does this man stand his ground on anything??? Not very presidential in any way, shape or form...

    October 5, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  3. Lev Brosnan

    It's alright Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  4. agatty

    HAHA !!!
    I hate everyone, and I am a racist....wait that was completely wrong of me

    October 5, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  5. towhaul1369

    Too. Late sir. I think your were speaking ture than and not now. Sorry.

    October 5, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  6. towhaul1369

    I think you were being truthful then and trying to CYA now. Sorry sir.

    October 5, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  7. Abubakari shomari

    No,he was not wrong

    October 5, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  8. winzhii

    Yeah Romney, ill believe this and the tale about Santa Claus.

    And no more.

    October 5, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  9. W.G.

    Lying Hypocrit . What a flim flam man !

    October 5, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  10. Torty

    So, 17 days later you're sorry? Next he'll be apologizing for deceiving American people during the debate. Mitt Romney, a man with no CORE Believe.

    October 5, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  11. Jason

    So Romney thinks he's wrong after he's been caught and it's done damage to his campaign. Go away Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  12. Bob

    Oh, so now he's completely wrong about what he previously believed as completely true. Yeah, I'll buy that and the Brooklyn bridge for a dollar.

    October 5, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  13. Tom Joad

    With Mitt, the free market is free to scew the consumer at will. Get raedy for Bush 3.0.

    October 5, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  14. Antonio

    I want to see your green card!

    October 5, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  15. Chris

    But his comments are absolutely right. There is a percentage of people who believe that government should give give give, regardless of the environment of irresponsibility and dependence it creates. He has to win the moderates and the undecided voters to win the election.

    That's how the elections work in this country. The media, i.e. CNN, is completely missing the point, and on purpose I might add.

    October 5, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  16. Karen

    Romney is so full of himself. He thinks now he can just say "I was wrong about the 47%" and we'll forget how he bashes Americans who aren't rich behind closed doors???? NO! Romney is a smooth talker that no one really believes any more. Flip flop...it's even worse than a flip flop!!!! Now he is totally demeaning and pandering...how DISGUSTING! Romney would make the most God-awful president this nation could EVER experience!!!!

    October 5, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  17. sproleee

    When Romney was governor pf Massachusetts, he worked for free. Didn't receive a salary. He let the state have it and I guarantee some of it went to fund welfare.

    Romney dontates millions of dollars per year to a lot of different charities.

    Actions speak louder than words, people.

    October 5, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  18. No Party System

    This guy really is a Republican Al Gore.

    October 5, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  19. matt

    Really... Who is advising Romney? Why on earth would you bring up this comment again if you're a member of the Romney camp? Romney's campaign staffers are making the McCain/Palin staffers look like geniuses, by comparison.

    October 5, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  20. Pammie1967

    I don't believe that his statement just "came out wrong." He kept talking and even stated that his main concern was 10% of the voters who are undecided. Basically he said in private exactly how he feels, he never dreamed that it would make it out of that room. I am so glad that someone recorded the true Mitt Romney for everyone to see and hear. People tend to say in private how they really feel about things.
    I am one of the 47% that Mr. Romney isn't concerned with because I am eligible for state assistance and EIC when I file my taxes. I work a job and attend college full time. I just wonder if he will be concerned about the 47% when we hit the polls come November? I will be at the polls that day and believe me it won't be far from my mind that Mr. Romney isn't concerned about or for me when I cast my vote.

    October 5, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  21. trollol

    This is what they call flip-flopping to try to win gullible people's votes. Would you trust his words that were said to private audience or his words addressed to the general public?

    October 5, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Look at that. Someone actually taking responsibility for a stupid comment. How refreshing to hear in what is otherwise an election with complete lack of personal accountability. I knew the excuses for the President's lackluster performance was going to come out the following days but I could noy imagine this at all. I think the President should take a lesson from his opponent and start admitting some of his shortcomings this election.

    October 5, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  23. Antonio

    I'am one of the 47% that pays more tax then you Mitt and your right I will vote for Obama.

    October 5, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  24. Marie

    Nice try pal. U can't take back a full blown attack on half of the country just because u had a good debate. You said it. You own it. Now ur going to pay for it. Didn't your mom teach u if u don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all. Man up and take responsibility. Stick to stashing your cash in Cayman tax shelters. Your campaign motto should be "do as I say not as I do."

    October 5, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  25. KNJAY

    Romney should be salesman of the year, what a great used car salesman he would be, just tell people what they want to hear till they are sold, they take it to them. be Afraid and Careful America

    October 5, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
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