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. Susan

    I doubt he'd give the same speech if anyone who might fall into that 47% category was able to hear it. No, he was talking to someone who could afford a $50,000 'plate', someone he deemed worthy of hearing his truth. Somebody he thought could contribute to his campaign. Nobody in the 47% was suppose to hear that they were not worthy enough for him to even try.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Roscoe Chait

    He got caught, so he has to admit his error. What about all the lies he told during the so-called debate? His nose must be 40 feet long.

    October 5, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Daniel D

    The President is way more smarter and intellectual than Mitt. The first debate was a setup to expose the "etcher/Scketcher" and a liar. No elected president has never won all the debates in history, team Obama studied the guy and the "flip/flop" master has just fallen into the strategy to be buried for good in the next sessions.
    The Obama team do not plan for just one battle but for the war. Mr. President is a thinker and a patient strategist that will corner Mitt, just like Kennedy (RIP) did during the MA gubernatorial race

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

    I think he said what he really believes the first time when he was talking to his rich donors.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Herbert

    There is something wrong when somebody doesn't drink

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. ts

    To Poster, Somehow, if a person is forced to change. It's better than before. BUT BE AWARE the person DOES NOT HAVE GOOD HEART. They turn back on you once the person get what he wants.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. RV

    If someone secretly records this guy's closed room talks, we would come to a conclusion that slavery never ended. Most rich kids I have come across are dumb.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Async

    What a worm. He'll say and do anything to get elected. He has to, the cartel that's bankrolling him is demanding it so he can start implementing their agenda. His first order of business is replacing the 2 outgoing supreme court justices with right wing conservatives. Once that happens, America will become a fascist state.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. John Randolph

    Don't insult my intelligence Mr. Romney.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. j reese

    It is difficult to believe anything this man says. He want to be president, just to be president, and will say anything at anytime to achieve his goal. This man should not be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. Richard

    It's such a non-issue. I'm not a Romney "fan" but the 47% comment was simple:: there's alot of people who rely on gov't assistance and there's alot that don't. Period. It's just like there's a lot of people who eat good food and are healthy in this country but than there are 2/3 that are over-weight or obese.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. Mitt Robme

    Romney is a snake. He flips his positions all the time. We don't know what his true convictions are, if there are any. He just says what he thinks needs to be said to win. Once he wins he doesn't care. And he will lower taxes on the rich, he just wont lower their share of overall taxes.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Pete C

    As a Democrat I have always said that, "The Democrats are the party of LAME but the Republicans are the party of EVIL." I'll take lame over evil any day but one just HAS TO wonder what the heck Obama was thinking in not going after Romney on this and other baloney he and other Republicans have said in the past. Obama completely let him get away with his non-sense on Education. During the Republican primay season the ongoing theme was which candidate can vow to dismantle the most Government programs and the DOE seemed to always make the list. We haven't lost teachers throughout the country due to Federal mandates we've lost them through the States inablity to fund education. To think that suddenly the States can handle it without Federal funding is to think Day is Night. Bottom line, MItt was scary, but probably won the debate. Obama looked like he'd rather have been home watching the dog scratch fleas. Good grief.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  14. Wrangler

    Soo....I'm not sure how everyone can call him a liar for recognizing a mistake. How is that flip flopping? So anyone who makes a mistake and fesses up to it is a liar and a chronic mind changer? I don't understand the logic of calling someone a flip flopper. Isn't the point of politics to appeal to as many people as possible? What happens when you try something and it doesn't work? You have to stick to that failed idea forever? Good on you Romney for admitting a mistake.

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. jefflazrn

    Awwwww. It's ok. We forgive you mittens. Now that you've seen the light I can vote for you. NOT!

    October 5, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Grand Dad

    Gov. Romney has the class to admit it when he makes a mistake. I don't hear him blaming anyone or anything for his mistakes. A contrast from Pres. Obama who all too often seems to be blaming...Bush...congress...intelligence community...the "rich"...you name it, for his record.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. JohnnyZ

    First you clearly said it...then you defended it...now you were completely wrong? This is like so many other issues you say one thing about and then turn 180 degrees when it suits you.

    Oh Brother! and that is worth repeating: OH BROTHER!!

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. Mittens

    Surprise...another lie

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. fonz

    Hmmmm trying to sneak the admission through, Americans are smarter than that.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  20. Don Ashlet

    I believe that when he made the comments he was speaking from the heart.
    He has never had any meaningfull contact with people that are not of his social status. He just seems to have such distain for people in need. Truely a Let them eat cake kinda guy.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. riabm60

    The Mormon church is a multi-billion dollar corporation, and growing.
    Romney's presidency will not only legitimize a religion that is conservative and sexist, it will bring him closer to his REAL long term goal of becoming the Mormon church's future POTUS and Prophet.

    NO THANKS..............................Obama 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. Michael

    Who is this person? Did Obama campaign him into submission? First Mitt doubled-down on the 47% claim, then went for broke and tripled-down and now says this??????????????? Unbelievable logic for normal people but typical for Romney. HE WILL SAY WHATEVER HE HAS TO TO CLOSE THE DEAL. EVERY WORD FROM HIS MOUTH IS A LIE!

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. kf

    Ok, so which is it? Your opinion you made when "nobody was looking" or the one you're opinion now to the general public? Not only seeming more and more dishonest, but also sounding more and more like a flip-flopper.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Bill

    He shouldnt apologize. It is true there are way to many people relying on the government. We ALL know these people he was talking about. Its not the elderly or those who have no choice in their situation he was talking about but those who keep having kids when on welfare, those who work just enough so they still qualify for all the aid they can get. I personally know at least 10 people who are like that. One has granite countertops in her house, but gets Medicaid. Another has 2 horses and a trailer to haul them in, but is on Medicaid. Last year 50% of babies born in our state were born to people on Medical Assistance.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. i12bphil

    Well, at least I can respect a man who can admit when he was wrong, because that's what a true man does. Obama can't admit when he was wrong because in his mind he's never wrong. Typical for a liberal.

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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