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. JZ

    Just more of the same and what we come to expect from our leaders. Both are liars. And if you don't believe that, check out the "Obama in his own words" video on you tube.

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. Brian

    I think he does what he does best... make comments that he thinks his current audience wants to hear! I don't think we have any idea what Mitt will do of elected. I am an independent that is leaning toward Obama. More and more as I see Romney in the spotlight. He obviously doesn't like to play by the rules as he clearly demonstrated in the 1st debate, bullying his way through time and refusing to move on to other topics. Romney, in my opinion will say anything to get into office. I think his 47% remarks is truly how he feels.

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Darrell

    And the flip-flopping continues! Stick to your convictions. If it is what you believe it is what you believe. Are you just preparing in case it is brought up in the next debate since it honestly should have been brought up in the first?

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Ron

    This guy will say anyting to get elected. Typical Romney, do you really think that the 47% he was talking about is going to forget what he said. Do you think the people at Bain are going to forget how he lost them their jobs and profited off their misery. Do you think the American people except for the wealthy are going trusst him wehn he want even release in tax returns.

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

    How many more "completely wrong" comments could our country "afford" in you were president?

    To Russia "Russia is our number one Geopolitical foe" (what about China?)
    To England "I am concerned about your lack of security for the Olympics (the day before they are set to open/no problems)
    To Israel "Sorry I had a scheduled fund raising dinner in Israel on a day of fasting"
    To 47%. i.e. "You are a group of no good, lazy, entitlement receivers without integrity or values"

    What's next Mitt?

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. jackson

    How stupid does Mitt think we are?

    First he says it.

    Then, he makes a point of saying he stands by it.

    Only now does he say it was a mistake.

    Just another etch-a-sketch moment!

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. Ronald

    Duh! Romney is completely wrong about many things and by the way, flip flopping on this is too late. You dug your grave now jump in!

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Columbus

    OMG PEOPLE......Wake UP !!! OBAMA is NOT a LIAR as well????? How soon we all tend to forget the PROMISES he made four years ago !!!! If you don't like Romney.....You certainly WON'T like the outcome if OBAMA is reelected.

    October 5, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. Fred Phred

    Come on..

    he was talking to a room of millionaires who all believe they are the masters of industry and that they are supporting half the country, which is garbage. Most don't pay any more % income tax than I do. Most pay less %.

    But he knows how to push their buttons and get their contributions.

    Sorry but Romney lost me with that comment. I was on the fence and he might as well have spit in my face.

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Tammy

    Flipflopping for votes. Again. You've already shown your true colors, Mittens. And that's when you made your 47% comment behind closed doors and showed America who you really are – an elitist who cares only for himself and his 1%.

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  11. Ric

    He meant what he said.. just to get the funds for running for president. Then he'll turn around to the mid-class and say what's required to gain their trust & votes.

    We wants to wear two hats to try to please everyone…

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. jack

    As a life long resident of Massachusetts, I believe Gov. Romney said EXACTLY what he feels about the 47%. The only people Gov. Romney “cares’ about is the “3-5 per centers” sitting in the room.

    We in Massachusetts had to endure 4 years of “Romneyspeak”.

    Gov. Romney continues to say he lowered taxes 19 times, but he does not speak about the 1100 “fees” that were raised during his term, impacting the lives of every middle class citizen of Massachusetts.

    Gov. Romney speaks of his support of education. As Governor he REDUCED the funding to cities and towns forcing the cities and towns to raise real estate taxes, impacting the lives of every middle class citizen of Massachusetts.

    The sad thing is that Gov. Romney actually believes “Romneyspeak”.

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Brian in DC

    I'm glad Romney has the humility to admit when he made a mistake instead of trying to blame someone else or have his henchmen try and spin a different narrative.

    October 5, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Norm

    Flip Flop anything for votes........
    So what's new?

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. Yeahona

    Right, it took you a month to come out and say you were completely wrong for what you were trying to convince donors you believed? So what do we believe from you Romney? I mean you change your positions so quickly, I can barely keep up. I'm sure tomorrow, you'll probably be claiming Big Bird shouldn't be roasted, but then who knows. I don't believe you know what you stand for!

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. wt

    Please.... He may have got the percentage wrong but how many people do you know, that are 2nd, 3rd generation welfare families?!? I'm tired of working my butt off when there are so many that stay at home getting assistance from the government because they feel intitiled. I'm not talking the elderly or the veterans, I'm talking about those who choose not to work because it's easier to collect from the government!

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. The Motley Sage

    Sorry Mitt... "That's not enough".

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    What happened to being "severely conservative"? Oops, that was last week. Sorry, no sale. While he gave a performance worthy of an Oscar earlier this week, all he was doing was playing a role. The role is called " Chameleon Candidate". By the way, unemployment is down: can you hear the righties screaming that its not real?

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. jeff Pilesor

    Does anyone really know where flip flop stands on anything. He is quite a piece of work isn't he.

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  20. kmac

    The boy is crawdaden–now he thinks most people want to work and not live in proverty. Rich boy learns about the rest of us?

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. Christopher J Hoffman

    There is an important difference between "I was completely wrong', and "I said something that was completely wrong." Mitt Romney said the latter, not the former. Big difference, though apparently not to the spin machine at CNN.

    October 5, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. wes

    Its funny that Obama's its rock bottom at the Debates and one day later and you don't even see it on the front page anymore...

    October 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Thad

    This guy says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. How can I trust him once he no longer needs my vote? When I go back to being someone he "does not care about"?

    October 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  24. Mech

    The Zelig of modern politics will say and do anything to become POTUS which is certainly in keeping with his work at Baine as CEO although he had nothing to do with the company as its corporate head.

    October 5, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. Doesnt Deserve A Vote

    I Can't See Even An Idiot Voting For This Flip-Flopper Romney Now!

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
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