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. moonshyne

    He's shown his true colors. He's an out of touch elitist and if elected half the country–especially the poor–will suffer. He's made clear his opinion on those "less than" poor people. Watch out middle class America, Mitt will eradicate the middle class and make them poor and his rich voters richer. This guy is bad news.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Jeb

    Flip flop number 1,999.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Sailor101

    I think Romney just lost points with me, he was absoluetly correct, there is a vat amount of free loaders in this country who want nothing more than to live off of free handouts! Mitt you shoud never of retracted your statement, makes you look weak and as if you are pandering for the vote. Stick to your guns becouse you were correct!

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. Warp0

    Flip, meet Flop.

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

    "COMPLETELY WRONG" : what does that mean? (1) he did not mean it? (2) He did not get the %age correct? OR, l (3) HE GOT CAUGHT so now understands he was wrong........

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  6. charms

    unemployment falls to 7.8% from 8.1% and Romney admits his 47% comment was wrong. In politics, everything is about timing but with Romney, he'll say ANYTHING to get elected. snake.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. max

    What a load of baloney. Once again, Mitt Romney will say whatever it takes to get him elected. Where is his backbone? There is no way I'd vote for a person made out of this kind of substance. Obama 2012.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Fed Up in MA

    When he spoke at that fundraiser, those were the first honest words he said during his entire campaign. He spoke how he thought and how he felt which to me says that he is not fit to be President to ALL of the people. I don't care how he flips and flops to weasel himelf out of it now. He spoke those words as clear as can be because that is how he feels about 47% of the citizens of this country.

    October 5, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Disgruntled Fed

    Yet another "etch-a-sketch" moment. There's just no telling what he will change his mind about next. Definitely not the person you want to be in charge of anything.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. AverageJoe76

    How can anyone ever trust this man?!? He constantly changes his position to win. YES, this method works well in nature, where adaptation is key. BUT. THIS. IS. POLITICS. Does he think we're that stupid to forget how easily it came out his mouth to dismiss 47% of us?!? I may not agree with the republican agenda, but I could stand behind John McCain if he won (not Sarah) – he was a stand-up guy who stood behind his words. You knew what he was capable of doing. With Romney.......... he's capable of anything. Anything. He'll change as soon as the heat turns up. Or.... he'll just flat-out lie to your face. He's making himself a very untrustworthy character. Not uncommon in politics, but to STAND OUT in a crowd of liars, is a feat.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. M Joseph

    "I say now what I need you to hear. I promise not to be completely wrong as president. That would never happen again, I will always tell you what you want to hear."
    – Mitt Rmoney.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Namelynne

    I know many folks who don't pay taxes because they have minimum wage jobs and

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. George McMurtrey

    The admission of being wrong is in line with the character of the man. What we should be focusing on is the number of wrongs the setting President has perpetrated against AMERICA, the caliber of thugs he associates with and this SUFFOCATING DEBT the scoundrel has brought down because he has NO BUSINESS SENSE! Then acts like a kid with a hand in the cookie jar when it comes to slinging $$$ toward issues that only serve his GANG BANGERS.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Ken

    And I wonder what else he was wrong about. Oh yeah – the tax cut for my wealthy friends like the Adelsons ARE going to add 5 TRILLION to the deficit. OOPS Oh, well, Too bad So sad – the middle class IS going to have to pay for it!

    Mitt- after Nov 06, you are not going to need a good memory as you won't have to lie or flip-flop any more.

    Tick Tock. Flip Flop.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. charles

    Oh really, I guess none of you ever said anything wrong off the cuff without thinking." Ask youself, how would I react if the shoe was on the other foot (you didn"t build that?) anwer/ Oh their just trying to mess with our god. get use to crying because your socialist is going down. move to Europe if you want to be a socialist.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. gail

    So Romney admits he was wrong. Good for him – takes character and boldness to rethink statements made talking to specific groups and caught by the media. Can anyone tell me when Obama has admitted he was wrong? When media reports a statement that he's made, he tries to "explain it" but never says he shouldn't have said it or that is was "completely wrong". What about when he said the attack on our consulate in Libya and the assassination of our ambassador were spontaneous reactions to an anti Muslim film despite evidence to the contrary. Then he goes to Vegas to campaign. Now we know it was a terrorist attack. we know al quida was behind it. His own secretary of state admitted it even as Obama was still referring to the film as the main cause. Why can't he even tell the american people he made a mistake, that he didn't have all the evidence...or something. When is he going to admit he was wrong? Oh, wait, that's right He is NEVER wrong – Americans are just too dumb to understand what he really said.

    October 5, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. freedom

    You think this headline is negative, but it shows what a big man Romney is. Obama can't even admit he lost a debate, let alone take ownership of all of the other gaffes he's made while in office. And how about that tape with Obama talking "down" to his audience with that weird accent and inciting class and racial division – he's a total fake, has a dangerous agenda for America, and is destructive to our country!

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Howard

    One doesn't simply say I was wrong for making a terrible assertion. well, some people would, but they would do it immediately. Not defend the terrible assertion for 2-3 weeks then change tactic totally once they see the negative impact it's occuring. Thjs is why Romney os known as Flipper. You kjnow how you can tell when he is lieing? HIS LIPS ARE MOVING!

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Shared_gum

    Liar. Nothing else to add here – he made his comments, and he clearly meant them. Then he came out and doubled down on it, claiming that he meant what he said. And now he is saying that he was wrong?

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Paul Janson

    This is a person who will say anything to get elected. He changes his comment everyday depending on the audience. I am really surprised to even see that the poles are as close as they are. I would have expected the election to be over by now. The guy is shameless and doesn't care about anybody except himself and money. I don't agree with every policy of President Obama, but Romney is the worst of all the republican primary candidates. The republicans handed the presidency to Obama once they nominated this clueless and insensitive guy.

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. fryuujin

    how do you spell Flip Flopper? M I T T R O M N E Y

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. riazzo

    It takes a big man to admit he is wrong......something Obama has never done and we all know he has done plenty wrong.
    Romney wrong on one thing, obama wrong on thousands!

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. RPE

    In response to Dick – the independent

    I seriously doubt your claim of independence Dick and your claim that watching the debate only encouraged you to vote for Obama. More likely you are just another plant to appear reasonable when it truth you were never independent. Romney was the only presidential voice on stage that night an America agrees with that assessment. He was concise, eloquent and commanding while dismantling the notion of Obama as a great orator without his teleprompter,.

    October 5, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. honestmidwest

    He stated his true feelings – then he later "absolutely reaffirmed that he meant it" – now just before the election he says "no I did not mean it" trying to "CYA". Good grief – anyone who votes for this guy, should really be ashamed and embarrassed-this is NOT the behavior of a Presidential candidate. Crooked is, as crooked does.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. JL

    You guys are unbelievable. You demand Mitt apologize. He does. Now you throw it back in his face. Meanwhile, Obama parades around yesterday saying that the Romney that whipped him in the debates in front of 67 million people "Wasn't the real Mitt Romney." No, of course not. Mitt Romney is who you say he is, right CNN?

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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