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.

With Ryan by his side, Romney rallies Virginians in debate victory lap

"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. Chelopez54

    FLIP FLOP FLIP FLOP MITT THE TWIT! AND YES, you were wrong- still wrong for this country! And do not come back in 2012, Hilliary will flip flop you all over the place.
    Liar too. Not as my President! Go home- or JUST GO AWAY!
    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. Manny

    Mitt Romney owes an apology to the 47%er's.......waiting

    October 5, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Sashatree

    Day late, dollar short Mittens! You ARE wrong. WRONG for the office of POTUS. WRONG for the future of our country. WRONG for strapping your poor dog to the roof of the car. WRONG for refusing to release at least 6 more years of your tax returns. WRONG for contradicting yourself on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE. WRONG for hiding your money in secret Swiss bank accounts and in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands. WRONG for saying you'll overturn Obamacare. WRONG when you said that RUSSIA is our biggest enemy. WRONG when you continue to LIE about your economic policies again and again. WRONG if you think we're stupid enough to cast a vote for your sorry backside. ROMNEY/RYAN - SO COMPLETELY WRONG FOR OUR COUNTRY!!

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Chris

    Campaigns are full of lies and stretches of the truth. His speech was focused on the specific dynamic of the group he was speaking to. The same would be true if we had hidden cameras on Obama. Wake up people, its not flip flopping, it's saying what people want to hear and its called campaigning. Obama does it, Bush did it, Clinton, etc... We can spend all day on fact check with both canidates. Track record is all you should make your vote on. Not promises, speeches, or debates.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Bryan

    So he says it, gets called out on it, defends the remarks just weeks ago and now says he was completely wrong. This guy is something else. I couldn't vote for this dude. During the debates he was fiesty and aggressive and took it to Obama BUT he still failed to tell the American people why he's a better choice. Oh Mitt's got better "plans" for everything but he's not telling us what they are. He wants us to just trust him but he's not even sure what his position is on things HE SAYS! In other news, unemployment numbers drop under the current guy in office...nuff said.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. Informed

    It breaks my heart that people have become so disenfranchised with the elections process that they're willing to throw away their vote on "the lesser of two evils." The Commission on Presedential Debates was founded by Democrats and Republicans, setting rules that make it almost impossible for a third party candidate to debate. As citizens, we're not getting the chance to hear from candidates that may bring a different perspective into the debates. We've been boiled down to a two party duopoly. My conscience will not allow me to vote for any person that doesn't share my values of liberty, freedom, and fiscal responsibility. If this rant, even touches one reader I'd be happy. All I ask is that you read about Gary Johnson's platform.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. We don't need another "WRONG" Republican for President

    Seriously – wasn't 8 years of Bush enough?

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Anchorite

    I appreciate and accept the apology. It ought to be big news that what he said not only isn't factually correct (unemployment is 8%, not 47%, and only 4% of Americans are on welfare), but doesn't even make any sense. Unfortunately I do still think he will behave as if the Americans who are on disability, social security, small business innovation research grants, veterans healthcare, medicare, food stamps, and getting federal student loans are leeches.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. pssshh

    Wow! 30 months! In France!

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. PaxLoki

    would say this is another flip-flop–however do not believe that he has changed his position

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  11. 4mykids3

    Why now after a week. Why didn't he come out the next day and say this. The next day after this statement was released he stuck by what he said. He is only admiting he was wrong because the release of this statement might hurt him. If he thought he was wrong he would have said he was wrong after the statement was released. If he didn't believe what he said, he would not have made this statement to anyone.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Junior

    If Obama said he did not care about half of America the GOP and Fox news would never let us hear the end of it even if he appologized. Mitt can, because he flips on everything else so it is OK for him ........according to fellow republicans.

    October 5, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  13. Pay Attention

    He chose to make this statement on Fox but not during the debate with 50 million people watching??

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Dwayne

    As a independent voter in this upcoming election cycle I think it's important for the next president to have a core sense of beliefs and mitt Romney don't have that. It is apparent that this guy flip flop and change his positions to a particular audience. He would say and do anything to get elected. As proven by the debate in which he lied and changed his position on everything he's been campaigning on. It's so disappointing because he had potential.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  15. Joan

    It's a matter of primary versus general election. In the primary, he was hyper-conservative, because that's what it takes to win the primary. Now in the general election, he is trying to act as if he's a moderate, because that's what it takes to win the general election. Which is the realy Mitt? Who knows? He's willing to say anything to get elected – whether it's true or not – but who knows what he'll really do (beyond cutting taxes for the rich. That's pretty much a certainty.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Venado Chato

    Oooooh Oooooh that smell, Oooooh Oooooh that smell, the smell of Romneyness around you. Can't wash that smell off huh Mitt. You lied to 65-70 million on TV on the debate, what do you think our memory span is sso short we can't get on Youtube and look at the BS you have espoused in the past. You've been pretty consistent about those of us who are in 99%. I'll take a slow recovery for the long term over handing you the keys to our banks for yrs. How long did you say it took you to harvest companies for a profit 4 to 8 yrs? Gee what a coicidence, the time span of 1 or 2 presidential terms.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |

    This is absolute proof that Romney will change his message depending on audience! In fact, his success at the debate is due to him flip/flopping over to the middle. Love his magic programs. Cut taxes $5trilion, not add to the debt - just give that to congress to figure out. What a joker.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. It is clear to me

    Romney was right and stick to it. Most on this website want somebody to fix things for them. Food stamps. Give me, give me, help me, take care of me. The nanny state. It is not my fault I am a disabled bed wetter.
    They will take care of you all right they will make you a slave eventually and you will still blame people like Romney. He earned his money and he does not have to apologize for it.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Tai

    More lies, will he ever stop ????

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Natalie Ruiz

    Just another campaign speech that he got wrong? REALLY? Should we consider the debate was just another campaign speech for Mitt and perhaps he "just got it wrong"? Who can believe anything this guy says?

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. hui wang

    He put more money on cherrity than pain income tax? cherity only benifit a few group(most on his mormen church.Tax benifit our fighting men and wemon and national security which he want more money on millitary! how smart he is.

    October 5, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Tek

    A politician that can admit he made a mistake. I do not understand what is so wrong about that. The guy is human. Maybe if King Obama would admit his mistakes, we would like him more, but no he blames everything on others like a child.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. NameLeslie

    I don't think so.What a man has in is heart u can't change ov er night.a lie is a lie.american can't belive him anymore.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. RUkiddingme?

    If you believe that I have a Bridge I want to sell you in New York City .... seriously.....

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. athena

    mr, romney is a liar-says whatever he thinks his audience of the moment would like to hear and cannot be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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