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. sf

    this guy flip flops on EVERYTHING...why in the world would anyone elect this fool! oh wait, he has Megan Mccain on his side....things are looking up for mitt!...NOT!

    Obama 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. @Last4Years

    As president you're expected to represent and accept 100% of the citizens of the USA automatically, not just the 53% who agree with you. He needs to re-read the Constitution and pay close attention to the Bill of Rights, b/c it seems he has no idea of the job requirements for the position for in which he's running.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Weekend visitor

    I totally trust Mitt Romney. He's "a man of his word" as evidenced by the fact that he resurrected this topic and is
    willing to share it for all to read. That reinforces my confidence in him! Would Obama do such a thing? I think NOT.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Amanda J

    Honestly, I would have a great deal more respect for the man if he would just stick to something. He doesn't have to agree with me on every point – just STAND for SOMETHING without changing your mind at every convenient opportunity! He reminds me of an unpopular kid on the playground who keeps pretending to like different things in order to make friends. What a flake.

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

    I take him at his word. I like a person who can honestly admit they were wrong. In fact, this very debacle may help shed further clarity on the issue of entitlements and when they are necessary and when they are not. It's a huge, abused area that needs to be fixed so we can be certain that we'll always be able to care for those who truly need help.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. Namevoice if reason

    Romney is an opportunist and a liar, he will say whatever he feels people want to hear just to win. He is in thus race for himself, his ego and opportunity for more wealth, he is the kibg of flip flop. Vote for him and we are all screwed.

    October 5, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Jeff

    I hope Romney doesn't win. Wait what am I saying, I don't want Obama either. Oh crap! we are screwed either way.

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Wow

    Seriously could this man be any more of a flip flopper it is unreal! What a joke.

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Tom

    Does that mean he is going to return all the $50,000 checks he got the night he made the statement? If not, then he's just pandering to the electorate.

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

    Oh geez, I bet 47% of the population really does depend on the govt. Start with the obvious: welfare recipients and SSA or SSI recipients. Then cut to college kids going to school on govt grants with no help from their families or personal savings, govt employees, the military and its retirees. While we're at it, don't forget all the politicians and retired pols. I bet MORE than 47% of the population gets govt assistance or pay of SOME kind of govt pay. Yea, yea, I know those SSA recipients and military/govt employees/retirees paid into the system. My point is, take a long hard look at all of the folks getting a check from our uncle every month. And please don't miss this – I work for a govt agency, and I NEVER forget who's paying my salary. (And I am very grateful for that job and paycheck!)

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. mary contrary

    As he did in the debate, he is now rushing to undo all the bad statements knowng those statements (and more) were about to be his undoing. Bad form.

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Chris

    It's amazing how easily he lies and reverses course. He probably believes himself. My take away is he'll say ANYTHING to get elected, but it's obvious what he really believes. If he gets elected more than 47% of us are screwed.

    October 5, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  13. GOP = Madness

    Stop calling Mitt a flip flopper, he is a LIAR, pure and simple. I thought the GOP never apologized for fear of being seen as a wimp. Mitt is not only a LIAR but a weak individual that will bend with the slightest breeze.

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. Marguerite

    Romney was talking to a room of supporters and was responding to a question (not audible on the tape). I believe his answer was linked to the probable percentage of voters for him and not meant to disparage, but to clarify the numbers.
    I'd love to be the fly on the wall for Obama's strategists.

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Rob

    "Mistakes happen"?

    Writing off 47% of the American people behind closed doors to an audience of your "special friends" is not a mistake.

    It's the truth about himself that Mitt has been trying to hide.

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  16. don

    Mitt is like a strip-mine owner wanting to be liked by the local townspeople just before the zoning meeting.

    " I'm beginning to wonder if these tree-huggers may just have something....."

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. RGCC

    The American people deserve a formal apology from Mr. Romney. His comments were insulting and anyone who wants to be president of the U.S. should respect ALL Americans! Essentially saying I misspoke is not adequate. He talked for quite a few minutes on this theme it was not a mere slip of the tongue but an clearly articulated idea. We deserve a full apology from Mr. Romney.

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

    But wait....Romney supporters were defending him to the death over that comment which he himself now admits was wrong. Sheep. All of you. Heaven forbid you attempt to be unbiased and call it as you see it from either side. Forget your allegiance to the party. Both parties suck.

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Anonymous

    To little to late

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  20. diane

    is it just me or does mitt romney change his ideas or stories a lot?

    October 5, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. SC

    I think this "win" is going to backfire starting right about now. How can we rely on a man who says only what he thinks others want to hear, not what he means? While courting the conservative right he pandered to them, now he's pandering to the Americna people because he thinks he'll win votes that way.Seriously it's so transparent! Thanks my brother who was unemployed for a time (and relied on his unemployment to keep him from losing the house he almost entirely payed off) can live without him and his lying patronage!

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. OffTheGrid

    America's chance for renewal rests solely upon the shoulders of the people who built the 1%. And those people are the working/middle class, whose labor provided the products they used to build their wealth, including the dividends they collect without having to shed one bead of sweat or lift one finger other than to click the "buy/sell" button. I see here a very strong showing of people who have finally figured out (for the umpteenth time in history) that trickle down doesn't work, and never will when those controlling it are controlled by greed. 400 million Americans, 396 million of them have been robbed by the other 4 million, who now threaten to take their money elsewhere. We're not headed for Europe's troubles, ours are much worse.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  23. Tamela

    Flip flop much, Mitt. First, you call a late press conference and double down on your rhetoric saying it was just stated inelegantly and had your surrogates repeat that phrase. However, now suddenly, this New Mitt Romney realizes that he is completely wrong, just happens to be THREE WEEKS later. Sorry, not buying it. The American public is NOT so stupid as to continue to give Gov. Romney a new etch-a-sketch every time he wishes to change course, which by the way, would be an awful lot of etch-a-sketch sales.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  24. GrampaSez

    My reaction is that CNN is STILL twisting his words.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. Mike

    What is wrong was his comment about ligitimate rape being acceptable.
    Are you kidding? Right wing christian wacko.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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