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. Eduardo De La Cruz Jr

    I wonder if Mitt includes gays and lesbians in that 100%

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  2. Jerry

    Obama missed his chance to hammer Romney on those comments in the debate, now Mittens is in CYA mode for the next debate.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  3. BigSurprise

    Oh look, Mitt's flip-flopped on his stance again. Gee, what a stand up guy, it sure is good to know that he's willing to stick to his convictions and hold down an opinion.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  4. Richard

    I think Mitt did a good job explaining himself, who out there has never said something that just simply came out of your mouth wrong. This country does not have 47% of the people who are simply just living off of the "Government Dole". There are a lot of people who honestly do need some help from time to time. The people we all need to worry about are those people who are happy just to get by on what they can get from the Government for free. In my family, we have to live within a budget. That means that we sometimes have to live without things. How many of you have been in the grocery store and have seen people talking on the latest smart phone while paying for their groceries with food stamps and then going out and getting into a car nicer then the one you drive. Government assistance needs to be scaled back to take care of people who really need help and not help support the poor choices people make in managing their own lives.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  5. Rose lyczkowski

    Obama supporters that Obama supports, sorry for your loss. So many at his viewing!!! 60 MILLION!!! LOL!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  6. dave

    Romney's going for the glory now, baby!

    October 5, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. LMD


    October 5, 2012 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. admire

    etcha sketcha!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  9. singleweird

    can we just write romney off now? hes a jerk, sure, but now hes a flipflopping one.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  10. SMH

    makes sense he is the king of flip flop wish washy and inconsistencies and i almost for got LIES lol yes apologize to those you have looked down on anything to get a vote lol

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  11. jamesnyc

    Shoot, then aim Mittens...

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  12. the hukd

    flip flopping again, huh

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  13. dee

    Poor Wilbur(MITT) he just says whatever will please the majority of the people in the room. Tax cuts for the rich! Next he cares about the poor. Whats good for his state isnt good for the nation.. what a joker and a liar FACTCHECK

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  14. singleweird

    can we just write him off now? hes a jerk, sure, but now he's a flipflopping jerk.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  15. Chirag

    What he meant to say was 56%...right?

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  16. Jill

    More like he's saying what he thinks people want to hear - doesn't mean he "means" it. In the debates he acted like he really had concern for the middle class. I don't believe anything the man says.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  17. Jeremy

    Let a sleeping dog lie. There is no use opening a can of worms. Concentrate and capitalize on your debate victory.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  18. ytman

    What? Is? Going? On?

    In light of this I think its great Obama didn't go after him for the 47% remark. Romney just disavowed himself...

    Though this 'Octob-magining' of the Romney campaign is a very interesting tactic. Basically, scratch everything ever before said pull self center and hope the undecided voters don't notice. This month is going to be interesting ^^.

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

    Well – certainly not 100%. On Mitt's hitlist include Seamus the dog, Big bird, and that kid whose hair was too long.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  20. Michael

    It took him long enough to admit it... the only reason he did is because he knew Obama would use it against him in the next debate.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  21. DaveInLA

    Yep, we Americans are like goldfish – we are supposed to forget what Robme said now that he's copped a mea-culpa.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  22. usualone

    That is not a little mistake that he can just apologize and think it will be gone. His voucher idea won't be working too well for many people. And how can students just switch schools if the one in their assigned area is under-performing. That is over-simplification. Too many would want to change and that is unfeasible. Then he wants each state to do their own health care. So in State A they have an excellent plan and State B it isn't so great. People in State B cannot move to State A so easily if their needs are greater than what State B supplies. So if he cares about all people, he should give more thought to these plans.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. phil


    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  24. Roy

    inb4 liberal feeding frenzy built out of desperation because their hero got wiped at the debate last night

    October 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  25. Jason

    What happened to Mitt? He declared that he's not going to lower taxes on the ultra rich, he whooped Obama in a debate, and now he's apologizing for his insulting remark that he has been defending for the past few weeks! Its almost like the Romney from last week was a doppelganger and and the real one, the one who served as a successful and moderate governor, just broke out of whatever cell the extreme wing of the GOP has held him since the start of the general election and decided to reclaim his campaign.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
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