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."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

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. bob

    You mean you were wrong not the frisk the help before they came in for hidden cameras. The quote itself, it is quite apparent, you meant from the heart.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. Disingenuous After-comment

    This man is a complete Phony! If he doesn't even know what he stands for how can he lead the country? OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. bxgrrl

    Romney- "we can't afford 4 more years of Obama" The truth is we can't afford even 4 minutes of Romney.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Pedro

    Takes a strong man to apologize like this. Apology accepted, Mr. President. Oops, I have to wait until January to call you that!

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

    He came out and supported those comments immediately after they were made public. This is a neck-breaking flip flop of monstrous proportions. WHO IS THIS MAN?! Not fit to be a leader.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Herbal Tea Party

    If this guy isn't careful he'll start losing some of the far right wingers.
    Does anyone remember the old TV program To Tell the Truth? Will the REAL Mitt Romney please stand up.

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. quieteye

    See: Confessions of a Leveraged Finance Jerk at cnbc
    "chronic habit of Bain Capital, which Romney ran, of dodgy negotiating tactics"

    This is how it goes and as we have long witnessed on public display.
    This is the next President?

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. gazuntheit

    ..um after a week he says this? So we can expect this shoot from the hip from this guy? I am sure his foreign policy will go well for Twit Romney (The UK said the best).

    October 5, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. Ryan

    First he doesnt care about the 47% sticks to his comment, now he says sorry, Flip flops policies, has no real plan just ideas. then wants to fire Big Bird. and on his tax plan, take away credits and deductions, means that he would get rid of tax returns.

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Rod M. Chicago

    A no good lying so-n-so...he said what he really meant when he thought on WEALTHY PEOPLE were listening. And this guy was SUPPOSED to be a MINISTER...I guess the god that the mormons worship approves of LYING, huh?

    I would rather have a professor who explains things and requires me to get smarter than an LIAR who says anything and insults people to get wht he wants. Can you imagine the trouble that he would cause as president changing what he says on a daily basis and representing US to the rest of the world? Imagine our president being identified as a flip-flopping liar...

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Trey Mck

    This man has no sense of honesty and will say anything, disavow anything he said before if he thinks it will win him votes. You may not agree with President Obama but he doesn't changed what he for and what he against every two weeks.

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Junior

    Wrong? So is everyone who has supported this flip-flopper so far. Who is Mitt ROMNEY? A snake oil salesman.

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. OregronEye

    Really!?!? Where is his 47% supporters now?

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. amboyroy

    What amazes me is people want to elect this guy and give him control of the nuclear football...is he going to push the button and after the missles are launched say OOOPS.....he is going to fly off the handle and deploy our troops and then change his mind in the middle of the fight......now Im getting scared that people actually want to trust him with our security.....its not funny anymore.....COULD/WOULD You trust this guy with your life???

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Jasonsms

    Really? We're stuck on this again? Meanwhile, Biden publicly admits they want to raise taxes by a trillion dollars and the press goes silent.

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. pointless1

    The man flip flops more than an average CNN poster...

    October 5, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Frankie

    Romney just wants to be the Big Man. He has an ego bigger than all of us out here put together. He didnt save the Olympics in 2002 like he would like us all to think as everything was in place by the time he arrived upon the scene. But he sure didn't hesitate to take all the glory for work done by others. I don't believe anything he says.

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

    Today, two of the most honest Republicans admitted wrongdoing and apologized – Mitt Romney, for insulting 47% of the american people, and Todd Akins, for forgetting he received $130,000 in pension benefits over the last 10 years, thus not paying taxes on the pension.

    They seem like truthful fellows. I'll believe them when George Bush admits he's responsible for the lives of over 4,000 Americans, and apologizes.

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

    So why don't you show Obama in all his socialist speeches , and publish pages from the book he wrote.I feel some biased reporting here. How unfair to the American people can one media source be. CNN needs to take as close a look at their reporting as they do Romney.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Mike

    Next thing we'll hear from Mitt in a few weeks is that he is switching parties and becoming a democrat.

    Say whatever what people want to hear to get elected. That's Mitt for you.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. Jeff

    "I was wrong." Something you'll never hear Obama say. His go-to lines are, "I blame Bush" and "I blame the Republicans in Congress." President who doesn't take responsibility = 1-term president.

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

    He is a BIG LIAR. When he was with his big rich friends, he said exactly the truth about what he thinks of the 47% and now he is saying he was wrong because he was caught and just for VOTE purpose. FLIP FLOP.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  23. Harry From Pa

    Lol more flipflopping, I think this guy flipflops more than a fish out of water,. Does anyone even know what his stance and position are anymore?

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  24. VEW2012

    This man has a different position each and every day of the week to cover his backside...He will say anything or do anything, and he has proved he cannot be trusted to tell the American public the truth.
    He can't have it both ways. He either lied to those rich contributors sitting in that room....or he is lying to us now.
    I think the last choice is the true Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  25. Name

    Its sad,but true! It took guts to say it out loud.

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