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. CNNuthin

    Trying to take away as much ammo from Obama for the next debate.

    October 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. Amr Azim

    100% Idiot! – and people wants him (Romney) to be President?

    October 5, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Why Why Why

    I agree with Romney 100%, he is "completely wrong" for America. Well put Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. pam

    Romney is like a drunk when he is with own ,the truth is always spoken. He meant what he said about the 47% it was not meant for all to here just his own...

    October 5, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  5. Beatriz Cisneros

    He made the mistake of speaking those words to a group of his rich supporters, but retracting the words a few weeks before the election, just doesn't cut it. He didn't care about his Bain employees that lost their jobs, their 401Ks, their pensions etc. He didn't care about the unemployeed that were left without jobs as a result of outsourcing, he didn't care about the multitudes that would be without any health coverage when he opposed and opposes Obamacare, he doesn't support organized labor that has been the salvation for many middle income Americans, etc. etc. etc. Open your eyes to the facts.

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

    How can anyone believe anything this man says. His story and facts change daily.

    October 5, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. shoos

    You can pretend that he is contrite, but really, he first stood by his remarks but then he changed his mind. He looks like he's lying for CYA. His character is really lacking. He needed pole number to change his mind and that's weak and not contrite.

    October 5, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  8. jdoe

    For days Romney firmly stood by his comment. Now he says it was completely wrong. This guy will change his mind in a heartbeat and say anything to win. Romney is the flip-flopper extraordinaire.

    October 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. lulu03

    He had to say it was wrong. They know Obama
    Will be bringing it up so he had to address it before then.

    October 5, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  10. Jeff Cox

    I would rephrase the headline quote: "I AM completely wrong ... for America!"

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  11. patNY

    And I thought that with the end of Summer, the Flip Flop season was over!

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  12. KBNJ

    I'm always astonished by people who say "so and so only gives to charity to save taxes". What happened, or didn't happen, in their lives to believe this?! Did they EVER fill out a tax form? Did they EVER donate anything? Do they understand how to add and subtract? I'd just laugh, but these people are allowed to vote the most powerful man in the world into office! Scary stuff.

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Fidup

    I am quite sure, by his demeanor this had more to it than the story that was told. He comes across as a genuine compassionate man. Let's face it, we did not see all that video, and more than likely it was fudged to hear what Dems wanted to hear.. His debate was awesome, I am an Independent and that is where my vote is going...

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. Cheater

    PS Anybody else notice that Romney cheated at the debate? You're not allowed to bring notes, but in the first few seconds he's at the podium, he pulls a packet of notecards out of his pocket and discreetly plops them down on top of the paper they are provided! LOOK IT UP PEOPLE!

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Anonymous

    flip flop Mitt, to little to late,

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Gerg

    Unfortunately, this is not an apology that corrects a torn curtain, or replaces a broken vase, this is an apology to an admission of guilt AND an admission of MItt's viewpoints. This is not an apology for an accident, but of an intentional statement of belief and conviction. I was surprised that Obama did not challenege Mitt on the 47% during the debat, but perhaps Obama did not want to give Romney a natioanl forum for the apology. As it is, Obama, et al, can continue to chip away at the 47% comment, whereas, an apology on national television may ahve given Mitt more credit than he deserves. In this case an apology was still warrated for the insult to the 47%, but it doesn't absolve Mitt of his intentions and his character as revealed in that video.

    October 5, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Romney is beating Obama in the Ohio and Virginia polls now. i am really glad people got to her him speak unfiltered and unslanted by the liberal media. Yes, I am looking at you CNN.

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Maggie

    Romney demonstrated a penchant for scapegoating entire segments of our population. by misepresentation of facts.

    His exploitive comments have incited hatred. I'm noticing on comment boards Romney's followers are calling Obama supporters victims. Like pre-war Germany in the 1930's.

    This is not leadership. I pay taxes, but know many seniors who may be in the group he so coldly insulted.

    I will never forget his comments.Callous, cynical and calculating.

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. ll

    Mitt Rommey: For AND Against everything at the same time........What could be wrong with that????????

    What a weak, weak, weak, weak, weak, WEAK, WEAK candidate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  20. Tammy

    Flip flopping like normal. Some things never change.

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. Namegig

    This man is scary. He is the type that would urinate on your leg. And then say trust me it was raining.

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Peter from Philly

    So long flipmaster, it was nice not knowing you.

    October 5, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. nautiusm

    Romney is beating Obama in the Ohio and Virginia polls now. i am really glad people got to her him speak unfiltered and unslanted by the liberal media. Yes, I am looking at you CNN.

    October 5, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. FloydZepp

    Does Romney really believe he can call the average american a stinky stain and then just "take it back"?

    October 5, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  25. frank kelly

    He sould not have said it for the liberal media to jump on his remarks but what he said is correct 47% will vote for Obama and he needs the independents to see his path going forward

    October 5, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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