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."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

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. Rush

    He's full of it, and even his supporters must see that by now.

    October 5, 2012 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  2. vfr800cr250

    Funny how he stuck by those comments when he was being "severely conservative." At least until he found out that just trying to get the base vote wasn't enough. Now all of a sudden he doesn't believe that? And his tax plan no longer delivers $5 trillion in cuts (at least not since Wednesday night)? Holy flip-flop Batman.

    October 5, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  3. Russ in MD

    Gov. Romney is the only choice for this country if you want our children to live a free and prosperous life.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    October 5, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  4. T

    So after a debate where 67% of the people believe you won, now you feel good enough to apologize to the 47%? Republicans nor Dems can trust you!! Republicans are with this guy because they have no other choice.

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

    America needs a 3rd choice. One that won't attack the working middle class and elderly seniors. And one that won't abort their unborn and spread the disease called political correctness...

    October 5, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  6. david esmay

    The only reason this pathological liar is saying this, is the fact that he's going to get hit with the remark in the next debate.

    October 5, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  7. Austin

    yeah right,it's a little late,you can't take that one back,you own it Mitt !!

    October 5, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  8. William R. Hill

    Somebody needs to tell this masterful "cheap shot" artist that once the words come out of your mouth they reveal your true thoughts, and you can't take them back. Oops, sorry I was wrong, doesn't get it. This comment has had so much impact because it is completely in character with the poor little rich boy who makes a fortune in vulture capitalism.

    October 5, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  9. EtchaSketch

    WOW !! How can american people trust s guy who is a chameleon ?

    October 5, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  10. Dejavu65

    To little to late we don't believe you..You said how you really feel Romney around your Rich friends. Then when you had the chance to correct it you double down and said you just stated it the wrong way. No thanks you. Obama 2012

    October 5, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  11. datagencnn

    With all the lies, half-truths, misinformation and lack there-of that has come out of The Romney’s campaign It seems to me that hatred and prejudice is so prevalent, that America would rather see an individual with lack of Lead-by-Example qualities take the oath of office rather than President Obama. If President Obama had accounts in the Caymans and other places overseas, you would never hear the end of it. If he had only paid 14% of taxes, I would not be surprise to hear impeachment calls from the right. The President has done quite a bit even with the opposition against him. His heart is true as coming from ordinary he has shown how he cares for the ordinary. Romney says one thing, not much is said. The President says the same exact thing and he is wrong. Until America truly learns to be fair, there is nothing in the window of the future of this double standard society except harder challenges for all, with the poor sooner and the wealthy later.

    October 5, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  12. Nkechi

    Anybody who votes for Romney because of the first debate lacks good judgement.

    October 5, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  13. Edward

    Unless you are a millionaire, how does anyone justify voting for this clown? The guy is a pathological liar, has no plan whatsoever, insults foreign governments and has a long history of squashing the working man. Please explain the insanity that would go behind putting a check next to his name.
    Not that Obama is a great leader, of course. His performance at the debate was shockingly bad, as if he didn't care. But sheesh, Romney and what is left of the neocons and tea party traitors are simply frightening for the middle class.
    Tax the rich. Feed the poor. It's not liberal....it's human.
    Romney could care less.

    October 5, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  14. works4me

    He said what he felt, then realized the others (47%) were listening. He really doesn't give a mitt about most Americans. Major Flip Flopper

    October 5, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  15. voxx

    LMAO!!...watch 50% buy this..

    October 5, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  16. Austin

    yeah right,it's a little late,you can't take that one back,you own it Romney

    October 5, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  17. bellenoitr

    Didn't his momma teach him to thnk before he speaks? I don't think I could stand 4-years of flip-flop statements. He's this century's newest Dubya.

    October 5, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  18. wil7483

    This "artful dodger" is the king of flip-flopping. He will say anything that he believes the American people want (or need) to hear to get elected, whether he means it or not. The sad part is that people are actually falling for his deceit and trickery.

    October 5, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  19. Mark Taylor

    And yet another dizzying 180 degrees. People! Do we really know who Mitt Romney is?

    He destroyed jobs and livelihoods in communities in Indiana and New York by sucking everything out of AMPAD for himself, leaving the company in chapter 7 bankruptcy and then tells us he's going to be a job creator.
    He's pro choice oh wait, he's pro life,
    He's anti immigration, oh wait, he's for the Dream act
    He claims 47% of us are sucking the other 53% dry... oh wait...He says he was wrong

    Can the rest of you no see that this man is saying any and everything he can to get elected? He's got more positions than the Kama Sutra. He thinks we are fools. Don't be.

    October 5, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  20. Nicholas Sayre

    i believe that many americans are in fact going to vote for obama regardless of what happens, or whatever obama screws up. Liberals will be liberals.

    October 5, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  21. concerned citizen

    And here lies the problem. Mittens says things that are not correct and later takes them back. So as a president will he say things that are wrong and act on those things before he has a chance to think about them and before he can take them back?

    October 5, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  22. Elizabeth in TX

    There you go again...flip, flopping.

    The reason you want to cut PBS funding (and it is a tiny amount) is because they are a progressive organization and go against everything Repulbicans stand for–far right wing, ultra-conservative ideals. I thought it was comical to mention PBS because it won't make much of a dent in our debt.

    It is sad to see what the Republican Party has become.

    October 5, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  23. Byron Jones

    Oh really? Mr. Romney, you are a chameleon.

    October 5, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |

    ROMNEY > the drowning man .like my Super Eagles trying to measure up to SPAIN by accusing the world soccer fans of bias!

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

    The only reason he's saying he was completely wrong is that he realized it was costing him votes! By the way... there are many other things he is completely wrong about!

    October 5, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
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