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. No Thanks, Romney

    Too little too late. You own that 47% just like Obama owns the 7.8%. Go back to your car elevator, it is the only way you can raise your esteem in America.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. shaunta

    I wonder if this means that the republicans who said he was just telling the truth will vote for Obama now. Talk about Etch-a-Sketch. Or just plain sketchy.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Liar!

    Romney is a liar! We don't trust this guy to be a president. He is 100% wrong now and will be 100% wrong later.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Terri Thomas

    You are forgiven..First by God then by yourself...now turn from your ways...and go and do good to all men

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. Judith Lane

    You're only as good as your word. He said it and he meant what he said. If he denies it than that makes him two-faced.

    October 5, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Harri

    Pathetic! The man can't make a simple declarative statement and stick to it.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  7. GLS0151

    I believe Mr. Romney has proven he cares about the 100%. He spent 30 months in France as a missionary when he was younger. He's a devout Mormon which teaches its members to be clean-living, patriotic, fiscally conservative, charitable, self-reliant, and honest. I think the proof is in the pudding.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  8. indigo

    Don't believe it, he meant what he said to his repub audience - this is akin to a drunk blurting out what his sober self has on his mind.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Numyorangay

    It was also off the cuff comments that pissed off David Cameron and the UK about the London Olympics and also an off the comment that pissed off the Palestinians. How many more off the cuff comments before he incites a war of such proportions that we all suffer? I propose that Romney, Ryan, Wolf Blitzer, John King, David Brooks, Mark Shields, and a few other misguided missiles enter group therapy and have an insight that it is not an angry black man that they should fear but their own disguised anger and fragmentation.

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. max

    Who is this guy? I know candidates will say what people wan to hear but Romney blatantly lies and then just basically says, "it wasn't me." I don't even know what he stands for anymore. He changes his stance like the wind changes direction. Even as a Republican you have to ask yourself what would he do if he were in office consdering that most of what he has been touting forthe past few years on the campaign he just flip flopped on in the debate. I guess it's OKto just blatantly lie to get into office. No Romney, the ends don't jutify the means! Get a spine and holdtrue to your stances at least. You may actually get some respect. Again, in the immortal words of the Cheshire Cat "Who R U?"

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. Tom

    I tend to agree with others that see this as a strategic move: by admitting that he was wrong, he is taking away ammunition in the next debate (ammunition that Obama perhaps should have used in this one). Of course, the other side of the coin is that this apology highlights Romney's consistent waffling on his positions. He recently defended his statements, but is now saying he was wrong. This is his pattern. I guess it is a betting game that depends on whether or not the voters will focus on his lack of consistency or his "sense of humility" that he is ready and willing to apologize and admit that he is wrong (just this once).

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. Big Dee

    I truly hope that we Americans go to the polls in record numbers this November to ensure this charlatan (Romney= fake, fraud, con) is defeated. Obama 2012!

    October 5, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Ramster

    Mitt – you are wrong about a lot more things, guy. Maybe you will be a better person if you were less arrogant.

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. john2655

    Yes, you were wrong and this election will cost you. You will LOSE

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. AmericanLiberal

    I had more of a problem with how that video was recorded than what he said

    I guess I am one of the 47% – he was amoung friends spewing out their tribal language
    My god, put a secret camera on Biden (he doesn't even need one) and you would have a field day
    what Romney said was mild and overblown by the media
    Is that all we have, wow – we got nothin'

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. Fritz

    It is very concerning the high percentage of the population on government assistance. It appears that no hope and voting for Obama go hand-in-hand.

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. V in Chicago

    I wouldn't belive this man if he told me the house was on fire and I could see flames. He just thinks we are so stupid, all he has to do it contradict himself and the "sheeple" will fall in lock step. Well, Mitt, it's not that easy. You know you meant what you said when you said it, and you still feel that way in your heart.
    Obama 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. John

    Romney has completely flipped flopped on his platform. The American people are not fooled by his theatrical performance. Let the fact checkers do their job and call Romney out for all the lies he said during the debate. The man is a pathological liar who will say and do anything to become president. Now he says he was wrong about his 47% comment 4 weeks before the election and the fire storm it has created. Mitt Romney is trying once again to fool the American people he cannot be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Todd

    The fact remains he wasn't too far off the first time. The government and its entitlement programs are far too big. If you depend on Uncle Sam for money, grow up and take responsibility for your life. Silly democrats, paychecks are for workers, not for mouth breathers. Not everyone is entitled to live above the poverty line if you have failed at every step along the way in life.

    October 5, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. don in albuquerque

    The way MittWitt recreated himself during the debate I will not be a bit surprised when he comes out and tells us he is now a Southern Baptist.

    October 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Learyman

    Give me a break. He meant what he said. He just got caught. A classic response. His advisers probably told him he had to do it,

    October 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. US Rooster

    I don't where people get off thinking the Gov.owes them entitlements.I don't trust Romney's transparent and smug smile,here we go again,no candidate to choose from.....again.

    October 5, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Megan

    100% of Americans ? What about the LGBT Americans or working poor Americans? You could give a rat's a__ about either of them. thats not 100%. Unless of course you have math problems.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. gordyb

    Etch a sketch again!

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. kamarasune

    Like Obama didn't do a 180 when he asked the party to put God and Israel back into the party platform after he realized he was going to need those votes after all....

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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