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. Dale

    He is so full of %$!#, it's not even funny. It's astounding that this man has the gall to continually lie to the American public. He just has no integrity whatsoever, and he might be our next president. This is absolutely terrifying to me.

    October 5, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  2. Alex

    I don't buy it. Mitt Romney meant exactly what he said, although he was mistaken about who exactly those "47%" are. His Presidency will be aimed at making conditions even more favorable for corporations and the wealthy. Sadly, the average person will get to keep maybe $300 more in federal taxes under him and they won't realize they just traded away their healthcare.

    October 5, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  3. the420bucsfan

    still trying to find anything wrong to say about Mitt Romney huh?

    October 5, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  4. TruthInATL

    You're just realizing this, Mitt? This was no "off the cuff" remark. It was very elaborate and detailed, so sorry, you can't take it back. Don't apologize for who you truly are and how you truly feel just because you have an election you need to win.

    October 5, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  5. jlf

    FLIP-FLOP,FLIP-FLOP,FLIP-FLOP. in May when the statement about the 47% was made he meant what he said and he stood by the staement when he was ?d about it when it was leaked, saying only that it could have been said more eloquently; now he wants to change it, take it all back because he feels he is on a roll per his performance at the debate...he doesn't realize people can see through this latest FLIP-FLOP !!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  6. everette

    Yeah right ! The flip flopper strikes again .

    October 5, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  7. jnpa

    Anyone who votes for Romney is a fool. How can they justify all the lies and flip flops over the past few months. How can they believe anything he has to say. Do they honestly think things will be better with Romney? How do they know that? Because of the crap he tells them? LOL, isn't it obvious everything he says cannot be believed? If your boss told such fabrications, outright lies and flip flops you would have no faith or trust in him/her? What a complete joke he is!

    October 5, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  8. x

    Who cares what Romney says? He said it when he thought know one was watching and nobody else would know.

    October 5, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  9. Cynical View

    Hmmm...he says "I didn't say that at all!" then, later when no one believes him because...you know...it's totally recorded and obvious what he said...he switches to "I was wrong".

    Uh huh.

    I think we know what he believes by now.

    Next thing ya know he'll say "Obamacare? Yes, I'm going to keep most of it"...

    October 5, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  10. Wayne

    First he said I stand by my word, now during the debate he says he doesn't, he cares about 100%. Hmmm flipflopper!

    October 5, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  11. Ash Williams

    Is it humanly possible for this guy to flip-flop more than he has? No matter what position he takes, he'll change it ,eventually I'm positive that he'd change parties next week, if he thought it would help him win the election. I'm just going to call him Flap-Jack from now on.

    October 5, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  12. tesserkatt

    1% Mitt

    October 5, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  13. Bob

    He was trying to explain that the government has taken over paying for part of the population, and that percent find it easier to lay back and let everyone else work for them. This economy is so bad that the government pay is better then what they can find, if they even tried. He lumped a lot of other subsets into that 47% that really can't help themselves, and do need our help. Those people that have actually medical problems or disabilities I have no problem helping pay support.

    October 5, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  14. P Ness

    Only making it worse by bringing it up again and lying about what you said

    October 5, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  15. Downinfront

    He'll say anything to get elected.

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  16. rconatser1

    Last week he stood behind the comments, this week he says they were wrong. As late as August he claimed he would cut taxes for the rich; at the debate he said he wouldn't. This man will say ANYTHING to get elected. He's the least trustworthy candidate we've had in my lifetime.

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  17. ExhaustedRegisteredVoter

    Why does Romney have to make it SO obvious that he'll say ANYTHING to get elected? Politicians continue to insult my intelligence and I'm beyond sick of it!

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  18. Greenspam

    As a white man, I see no reason to vote for the failed policy of Barack Hussein Obama.

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  19. ForGoodOfAll

    Too Little, Too Late! Flip Flop Mitt caught up in his own lies AGAIN! This man is an embarassment to the Republican Party and to America for being a candidate for the US Presidency. FAIL!!!
    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  20. ellid

    Sorry, Mitt, but that comment in front of your rich buddies was more sincere than anything you've said on the campaign trail.

    Nice try.

    October 5, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  21. Josh

    Finallly, a presidential candidate willing to admit they were wrong. It takes some guts to do that at this point in the campaign. While what he said was stupid, after looking at his past history of personally helping individuals, he's got my vote.

    October 5, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  22. tepeters

    Since consistent truth alludes Mitt this opinion could change tomorrow

    October 5, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  23. Citizen-Soldier


    October 5, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  24. Steve

    This this just smoke and mirrors. He stood by his statement the day the video was made public, and he would be standing behind it now if he was ahead in the polls. Yesterday I heard him refer to the "Obama style of government" as trickle down government. With that statement he is just trying to confuse the public as to what trickle down really means to them. If you buy these arguments take an economics class, and read your history books. Wealth concentration, works about as well as pure communism.

    October 5, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  25. abdc1

    Please Mitt, open mouth , insert foot. You do this too much. I say so much and I do not mean it ,is a problem .

    October 5, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
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