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. Gun Owner

    Top Ten Obama Flip Flops...

    ■Voted against increasing the debt limit; then supported raising it.
    ■Campaigned against the Bush tax cuts; then extended all of them.
    ■Promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term; then proposed trillion dollar deficits.
    ■Vowed the unemployment rate would be below 8% if his stimulus was passed; but then it broke 10%.
    ■Promised shovel ready jobs; th
    en admitted they weren’t shovel ready.
    ■Said if you like your health plan you can keep it; but then threw seniors off Medicare Plus and employers are now saying they’ll dump people onto the public exchange.
    ■Promised to have health care negotiations on live TV, but then reversed himself.
    ■Indicated Bush violated the Constitution; then carried out warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detentions, secret renditions, quadrupled drone attacks, and kept Guantanamo Bay open. Voted against the Patriot Act, but then supported its extension.
    ■Said lobbyists wouldn’t work in the White House; then gave them waivers to work there.
    ■Vowed to take public financing for his 2008 campaign; then refused public financing when he realized he would receive more money without it.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. SC

    I think Mitt Romney's "win" is about to backfire. Americans realize he is just pandering for votes and that you can't rely on anything he has to say.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. NameDouglas

    He ment what he said that is his real feeling now he is going to say whatever he thinks he can to get in office then go back once he is in flip floper

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. moonshyne

    I feel bad for the American people if this guy becomes president. He's an elitist and the only ones who will benefit from him being elected will be his elitist counterparts. It's disgusting that he views the middle class and poor as "less than" and you can bet he'll take the hate he has for poor people and turn it into anti-poor legislation. Bottom line, children will suffer if he's elected. The kids of families who aren't rich will end up worse off..as if it wasn't bad enough being poor today. Thank God I'm Canadian and our government, though not perfect, takes care of ALL people especially those with kids. Please don't vote for Mitt. He's a horrible person for his obvious loathing of underprivileged people.

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

    Mitt has more flip-flops than Imelda Marcos had shoes.

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Ed

    It reinforces the conclusion of the recent CNN article that described Romney as a businessman who, to close the deal, will say whatever he believes his target audience wants to hear. What is his REAL agenda? Will the REAL Mitt Romeny please stand up?! My guess about this man: He's been a monumental financial success as a (ruthless) businessman; Now, to reinforce in his own mind how great he is he needs to land the job of head of state of the world's most powerful nation. This is an ego trip for him. By the way, how old are his sons? If any are of military age, why is it that, as far as I know, none have volunteered to serve in the military?

    October 5, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Chad

    He was making an appeal to a room full of high income earners, by demonizing and dehumanizing a group of people in order to reinforce their support for him based on fear and hatred. Throw in the fact that the statement is not only blatantly false, but hypocritical considering the fact that significant portions of the 47% pay a higher percentage of their income to taxes than anyone in that room. It's disgusting and the only issue the rest of the GOP has with it is that he was caught saying it, they're far more concerned with trying to make it sound 'nice' and not with the egregious level of distortion it represents.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. Dick

    I'm one of those independents. After the debate, and checking facts on the candidates comments, without question, I am voting for President Obama. Romney lost all credibility with me. Frankly, he would further facilitate the demise of the middle class.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  9. John the Atheist

    Romney adamantly stood by his comments when the video came out. Now he's completely wrong?

    This conniving scam artist will say and do anything to get elected! He is dead set on the goal of having his money secure him a place in world history! It's only been about his ego from the start - he wants to buy the presidency and have school children find his name in the books for all time. He couldn't care less about the economy, the country or the people in it.

    He just wants immortality here on earth in the event his crazy Kolob beliefs don't pan out.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Larry

    Fox "news" evidently hasn't gotten around to reporting that Romney decided to recant his insult to 47% of Americans, and that Todd Akins forgot to report pension income on his taxes – for 10 years.

    Luckily, they always report that all figures coming out of the government are misleading, and that they're the only ones who tell the truth.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    "What I have to do is convince the 5 percent to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful." And he'll say anything, truthful or not, to get these people to vote for him. You think winning the convention was an Etch-a-Sketch moment? If he gets elected then you'll really know what 'Etch-a-Sketch' means.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Just Sayin'

    Can we just stop with the trash talking? Maybe if both of the candidates would stop talking, write down, sign, and publish their plans/strategies, we could study the info side by side and have a better understanding of the direction each wants to take the country. I don't think the debates accomplish much. It's a bunch of hoo-haw and grandstanding and no real info being disseminated. -Just Sayin'

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. JDinHouston

    Romney firmly and resolutely stood by his words. Now Romney says his words were wrong. Which is it, Mr Romney? Mr Weathervane once again takes a politically expedient stance, not an honest one.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. JohnJack

    Romney meant Democratic policies favor the 47% who rely on government safety nets to help them through abuses committed by the powerful 53%.

    October 5, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Jason

    "I was completely wrong on this topic. I remain unrepentantly wrong on all others. I'm Mitt Romney, and I approve this message. "

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. No Good for Prez

    I have lost all confidence in Mitt Romney as of this point. He's now a proven Flip-Flopper for convenience and will say literally anything to get elected. How can we ever trust him again!

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Bobber

    What else were you wrong about? Oh yes, most of your platform.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. CanHardlyBelieveIt

    wonder if the 99% realize that they are ALL part of the 47% . . . .. . I do.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Jason

    You all who are calling out Romney for this one comment, that he has manned up to and admitted he was wrong about, are reprehensible and two faced. Your canidate lied to you throughout his entire campaign in 2008 and you could care less. How is that Guantanamo Bay shut down going, how is ending this war going, where are all these shovel ready jobs, no new taxes on the middle (bring on obamacare). ask the people of CA how energy idenpendence through green energy is going. Give me a break you all are hyproctical drones.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. David

    "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," Even when he tries to undo what he said before, he lies. His 47% comments were made in a private setting of $50,000-a-person donors. He was not in public, to those his private, real "thoughts". He thinks by saying it was totally incorrect that will change his image, it won't.

    Like at the debate, nearly every single fact, story, point Romney says is a lie or as he now states, completely wrong. He apparently has no moral compass and will say anything that he thinks will get an extra vote. The pundits, who swooned over his acting performance in the debate, need to dig deeper and go beyond his energizer bunny performance. How can anybody hold a debate let alone vote for a person whose approach is to renounce the next day what he has been saying for months. Romney makes Nixon look like a truth teller. There is no prior comparison to Romney's inability to tell the truth or to stick with what he has said. Maybe he is a pathological liar or that his etch a sketch approach is how he succeeded in business without really trying. He definitely is not doing the business world any service with his erratic Machiavellian tactics. There is not a word or statement that he has said, in the debate or months ago, that is believable or not a lie.

    Let's see how his hard right base responds to his current reversal. Previously Limbaugh thought the 47% statement was the right thing to say.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. john

    The latest polls after the debate show that independents, the folks listening for content, moved toward Obama by about 7%. This is with most folks thinking that Romney may have won the debate. Whereas, Republican thought better of ROmney.

    I think it is clear that Romney needs to show his and and discuss specifics. If you recall, Romney was very confusing the first 15 minutes of the debate. At one point he even contradicted his tax of reducing taxes for the wealthy. Also, later in the debate he mentioned several numbers to limit deductions (e.g., a limit of 25,000). It was clear he had not thought about what needed to get dome. Amazing.

    Maybe republicans will start to see the light. Their budget and policies are not very popular.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. It is clear to me

    Informed / I hear you and I would love for a person who believes in the constitution to win. But they are called wackos or nut jobs because they try to support the constitution and that gave us our rights our freedoms and our great country.
    But you are wrong to just do nothing. You must pick the best of the two and in my book the godless atheist humanist anti constitution big government big spend make you a slave party is the democrats.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. Bob in Ohio

    It weems to me that Mr. Romney's main goal is to become POTUS in order to outdo his father. Everything the man says seems (again only my opinion) seems to point in that direction.

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  24. And wife beaters are always sorry also

    So did he give back all the money raised whenever he made those comments in secret?

    October 5, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. ImWEBSPY

    To late you said half the country sucks, now you say you were wrong about half of America, with Thermal Nuclear Codes you cant be half right!

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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