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. lovemygirl

    The Bloom is Off The Ruse; Meaning the stench of Obama is permiating the back yard like a skunk.

    October 5, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  2. lila

    Why did he not say that from the beginning? Why did it take him doing bad in swing states because of it to make him feel sorry/

    October 5, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  3. mb2010a

    Mitt Romney is "completely wrong" about something...I am shocked. Completely shocked, I tell you...

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  4. El Kabong

    Noyhing but a slick talking snake oil salesman that will say anything, even lie to get elected. He isn't consistent or clear about anything. Sad to say that there's a lot of suckers in this country that actually believe this guy.

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  5. adam

    Sometimes on the trail you can say something that doesn't come out right but those are small things Mitt, a few unscripted words, not large segments of a speech with multiple points. The only reason Mitt says he was wrong is because it's costing him votes, he still believes what he said was true. This guy can turn on a dime (turn for a dime)

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  6. lovemygirl

    The Bloom is Off The Ruse, Obama is done

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  7. nickiead

    I believe him...now I must go feed my pet unicorn.

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  8. johnmenacherjr

    Does this guy mean anything he says? Come on think about it, health care ?, Taxes and tax rates? Is he playing lets play the US audience or what. I think he did mean what he said and it all a game to play the audience. I do not really beleive he can change with his radical base unless he has some basic need to politicize every issue one after another. Etch A Sketch is really putting to simple name on it I callit a farce and will say what yo mean please? I can gert this on SNL or Jay Leno.

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  9. josh

    WOW! I don't know who can trust this guy, if it's a new day somehow he finds a new principle and conviction that contradicts yesterdays. only two ways to vote for Romney, you must really not like the President or your brain is broken.

    October 5, 2012 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  10. bassman

    I wonder if Pres.Obama thinks his own "spreading the wealth around" gaffe was wrong? And will our media even ask him? Will our media ask him if his "Polish Death Camp" gaffe was wrong?

    October 5, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  11. Obama-Biden 2012

    Sure Mitt cares about 100%... he flips back and forth so much it makes Big Bird's head spin! More tax cuts for millionaires will not help the 99%. Obama – get up and get going! We need you!! Big Bird and education programs for regular middle class people need you!

    October 5, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  12. Namemarkmark

    Fact is there is a large percent of leeches in America to include illegal immigrants and the welfare queens. Democrats protect these people as they ate guaranteed votes for democrats.

    October 5, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  13. NoCommentCNN

    What I heard in the debate was the same lies both parties have been telling the American people for fifty years. Both promising and promising knowing full well that the Middle class will have have a very large tax increase as long as the Governments continue to hold over forty percent of the GDP. along with that the federal reserve policies that continue to reduce the value of our Dollars will also require more money for the Government to pay for the same level of service. Democrats and Republicans, Perceived rivalry but really working for the same producer.Over a half a century of failing the American people they have sworn to represent.

    October 5, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  14. Johnson

    Smart move Mittens, completely diffuse the controversy. Thanks Obama for completing missing it at the debate. Were on the verge of having a Mormon president who believes he and his wife after having their calling and election made sure through a contract with Jesus Christ, which was officiated by the Mormon Prophet, will be set apart as a God and Goddess for all time and eternity.

    In the mind of true believing Mormon, he is the White Horse Prophecy fulfilled.

    October 5, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  15. Woody

    He needed to do this unlike Obama who never apologized for similar remarks last election when he was divisive and marginalized people with his "cling to guns and religion" comments. The intent was roughly the same in that Obama realized that certain demographics in America were never going to open up to him and vote for him. Howard Dean also made comments about Confederate Flag voters in his short lived campaign...They all marginalize to a degree but it depends on the spin the media puts on it to the masses as to how it will be received.

    October 5, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  16. Paul

    Of course he is going to apologize. What else can he do? If the stuff didn't hit the fan and it did not become a story that was poorly responded to, he would not apologize. Nit Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  17. mommytwice

    and we flip, then we flop. Who would vote for this clown???

    October 5, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  18. Lyin Ryan and his sidekick Mitt

    Wow! The ultimate flip flop to end all flip flops. Does Mitt Romney believe anything he says?

    October 5, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  19. Imaging WW3

    Romney said – "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."

    Imagine this person says something like this, which he doesn't really mean and starts a war or nukes someone. This flip flopper is as scary as Palin now.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  20. Jeremy

    Clever Mitt. Interesting.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  21. rick1948

    Right Mitt – everyone with even the slightest amount of common sense can see through your BS. You are a spoiled rich kid who never had to "work his way to the top" and only care about others just like you.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  22. Regular Joe

    You are a liar Mr Romney nothing more nothing less and you'll say and do anything within your power to be elected. The people of this country know the kind of snake oil you are peddling and the empty promise your unholy reign will bring to us... you are only in this for yourself ...so take a long walk off a short pier Willard you won't be making friends with the regular joe.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  23. bearced

    flip flop, flip flop. He will do or say anything to get elected.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  24. carly

    What a pandering liar. Anyone who thinks they can trust this guy should have their head examined.

    October 5, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  25. Bob

    So Ashley, you are making up for Obama not mentioning it. It's really sad that the American people are not given a fair unbiased view. Did you take become a reporter to "change the world"?

    October 5, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
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