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."

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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. JC

    Romney will say whatever we want to hear to get elected, certainly would not trust him as President. When Mitt Romney visited Great Britain this summer he ticked-off high officials, at least 1 British newspaper called him "Mitt the Twit" covering the entire front page. Certainly would not want him representing the USA oversees.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. Margie Cruz

    The Bible says," Out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak" Now Governor Romney is saying that he didn't mean what he said in the 47% Video. He is like the snake who asked the elephant to carry him across the river. The elephant said no because you are snake, and you might bite me. The snake promised not to bite the elephant. So the elephant agree to cross the snake over the river. But on the other side the snake bit the elephant. The elephant said, "you promised no to bite me". The snake answered, "you knew I was a snake when you trusted me to ride on your back". The snake in this story is like Governor Romney. The real Romney is the one in the 47% Video.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  3. justmeanddog

    The great thing about speaking the Truth is you never have to try to remember what you said about any subject. The Truth remains constant, while lies, fabrications and misrepresentations have to be constantly remembered, revised and explained and expanded on. A Truthful person be they a Politician, or just some ordinary Joe, has no need of Spin-Doctors to explain what they said.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Les

    Mitt Romney is also "completely wrong" for the office of the President of the United States.

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

    I think the GOP is doing a social experiment, Accidently go to war on bad advice and killed and injure100 thousand AMERICANS needlessly. Take our money, jobs, homes, cars, give them to the banks and their friends on the way out of town.
    Then when were really good and poor get us to vote for a Millionaire Mormon who calls us all a bunch of losers to win!And oh yeah The President who stoped the bleeding and healed many problems lets just keep calling him a complete failure heck it worked for Adolf!
    Sounds about right!

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. boltdaddy

    If this is the worst MR say he's fine. BO has said much worse in PA talking about bible clutching, gun toting pathetic people and of course his support of the Rev Wright and his elegant edatorials on our government. Obama's latest folly with Libya underscores how unengaged with reality he really is. Time to FIRE OBAMA, he has his chance and fumbled the ball.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Franky

    Romney has got to be the most dishonest person in history, I mean to complete do 180 degrees 5 weeks before election , proves this guy has 0 values. His presidency is to "fulfill" some dream he has that his father didn't. The guy couldn't care less about actually governance or the people. Etch-Sketch ... this guy became a whole different candidate on Wednesday ...

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. moonshyne

    This guy is a poster politician . Lying, flip flopping, doesn't give a hoot bout the people! All he cares about is his ego and being president for the sake of being president. Obamas not perfect but he's not Mitt so that's a clear benefit! Obama seems to care a lot more about people then this rich, elitist egomaniac.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Jenna NYC

    It is amazing how the Obama campaign has managed to demonize this man. Mr. Romney is a decent, honest, nice man who has done a lot of charity work, donated a tremendous amount to charity over the years, and people still repeat the nasty slander that the liberal press and Obama campaign constantly drumbeat about him. It is really shameful. People ar willing to happily follow Obama off a cliff like lemmings.

    October 5, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Eugene

    Yes, you are right Mitt Romney does make a lot of ideas to get votes, but so has every politician. It seems I remember four years ago a certain politician who promised change and promised this and promised that. Mr. President wrote two books before he ever had his name on any legislation in Congress.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Disgusted

    "The admission came Thursday as the GOP presidential candidate sought to clarify his controversial "47%" comments."

    Clarify comments!!! Remove foot from mouth so he might improve chances is more accurate. Or is this another flip flop? I believe Mitt would say anything to get elected–except tell the public what his plan really are.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. Maureen

    The facts are irrelevant at this point, and so is his "apology", if that's what it was. What people won't forget, I think, is the sneer that was implicit. That was the true part of the statement, and it is forever.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. NameJade77

    He will say whatever to win. His only reason for running is to out do his daddy!

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Me No Me No Me No Care Me Go Marry a Millionaire

    Flip and a Flop – He defended for weeks. Now he flipped again. This was said in May – he just finds out 6 months later that he was completely wrong. Who wants this twit for president? Is he going to return the money he collected from people who believed in what he said? They agreed with him and gave him millions. That's the kind of people behind him.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Zoila

    Nothing is a hundred percent, that's the first lie.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Dan586

    MITT, NO YOU WHERE NOT ! That tape was 100% honest. That was your true feeelings. Now your lying. What is said in private is always the truth. You just got caught

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. No Good For the High Seat

    If Romney doesn't even believe what he says then what good is he as president of this country?!

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. SPQR

    "Was" ?


    Mr. Mitt Romney is completly wrong.

    Romney is everything that is wrong with our Congress !

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Nathaniel Dickson

    Mitt Rommey must think Americans are stupid. His comment concerning the 47% was a statement that he meant. If he was serious about retracing the statement why didn't he make an immediate apology. What he really means is the 47% of Americans that he does not care about will be the Americans that will be hurt the most with his tax plan that he does not talk about. These are the Americans who will be hurt the most with charitable duducations, Mortgage interest rates, proprety taxes and other write off that help the middle class. The statement that the wealthy should not be taxed more is absurbed.

    October 5, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. McCall

    I give him great credit for admitting he made a mistake. It's nice to know his critics are perfect and have never said something they regret saying.

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  21. diane

    i dont think i would trust him to run this country

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. kbone3

    Flip Flop Mitt. Wasn't he just defending the comments two weeks ago? In fact, he had all of you republicans on blogs defending him and those comments as well. Now he is trying to abandon the comments just like he just flipped flopped and abandoned the tax cuts for rich folks during the debate. Just on flips flops alone, he does not deserve to be POTUS.

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. michael

    The bad news is that Obama missed the opportunity to torpedo Romney with the 47% comment last Wednesday, and now that Mitt's apologized before being confronted with it, it'll be harder for Obama to use it against him. But, despite Romney's superior performance in the first debate the polls all show that Romney only won the support of 35% of the undecided voters, with 18% going for Obama and 47% are still undecided. So Obama's still in the running despite what the detractors say.

    October 5, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Charlie

    Hindsight is 20/20 eh Mitt? So now you say you're wrong. Will you flip flop again come November?

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. Bob

    "Completely wrong"? So he cannot be trusted until he gets caught. Even his high priced buddies who are the high rollers raising money for him cannot trust him because he lied to them in front of thier face. He just says what he thinks people like to hear. He is the old boys club and if he gets in, the US will be in trouble again. The old story. Further aliienated from the world. Obama done some good work to close that devide. Romney will open the old wounds again and go in with gun a blazin. Don't forget, Rome fell.

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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