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. Wondering

    I am getting concerned about Romney. Has anyone considered he may have the onset of

    I am concerned about Romney. Has anyone considered he may have the onset of ALZHIMERS. He cannot remember what he said the previous week. I do not think he flip/flops. He just cannot recall what he said a few days ago. It would be dangerous to have this man in office if that is his problem.

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. John

    The morning after his 47% remarks were put out...."I stand behind those comments 100%" This was hours after they were published, plenty of time to have second thoughts then, and now he has second thoughts? Which Mitt would we be voting for?

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. AKSean

    Does he think he was wrong for thinking and saying it or just that it was recorded I wonder. If he had said these publicly and not at a closed, private fundraiser, I would respect them. I was still disagree with the sentiment, but I would have respected his honesty. As it is, he is only sorry because they have been heard by the general public which will likely cost him votes.

    October 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. sv3

    come on Mitt nobody likes a flip-floper

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Jose

    Unfortunately, the republicans have lied to America before Obama, and continue to deceive the people. Please verify all key points made during the presidential debate, test everything. As for Mitt flip-flop on the 47%, He now thinking like a real politician..Preach what American wants to hear to win votes. I do not trust Mitt's policies..perhaps we will revert back to the 80s, not safe.

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. palusko996769

    OK, so he admits that what he said was wrong. The question is – does he still actually believe it?

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. interested 48

    Yeah, now he says it. That's the true Romney; not the one he's trying to project now to win the election. I'll never forget what he said. He's clueless.

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. RepublicanOregonian503

    Anyone who has 230million+ dollars is not worried about the little guy!
    and to all of you "little guys" out there who are going to vote for him, you must be either really stupid or really racist!

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Carolyn

    He would say these things now, since he was dropping in the polls, so if america thinks he's changed, put him in office and see what happens. We thought Bush screwed up everything Rommey will be worse.

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. JacReachr

    So Romney thinks he actually won the debate ....now that he thinks he has a chance of winning despite all his lies.
    He wants to take it back ...Scre# Him...the truth is out there and your not going to get any love from Ohio no matter
    how much money you spend there. ...I would hate to think i became president by lying lie you do have so much
    contempt for about half of the country this attitude of yours probably comes from being born with a golden spoon
    WHAT IS ROMNEY HIDING ........WHAT YOU HIDING ROMNEY ? Your not stepping up to show taxes is just one
    of the reasons i will not vote for you ....and i doubt all those early votes in Ohio that your afraid of will not

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. ForGoodOfAll

    Barack Obama = Commander in Chief

    Mitt Romney = Liar in Chief

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. john2655

    this guy will say anything to get elected. Flip meet Flop. Earlier post said it. I agree

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. ImWEBSPY

    Romney said half the country sucks, now Romney says oops he wrong about half of America. Like Bush even before Romney is in the White House Romney says he has a list of countries he would like to attack, with Thermal Nuclear Codes Romney cant be half wrong!

    October 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. NameMary Stanley

    I said Thank God for the 51%!! workers carrying a heavy load. We need jobs, for those who would work if a job was available. The members of senate& congress need to vote themselves a reduction in salary & retirement benefits, put all Americans on same health plan with themselves,& quit giving themselves subsidies, set aside for farmers that pays for millions of dollars for land never used for one thing except a tax break. What a bunch of thieves!!! I pray for mercy for the workers, tax payers..

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  15. rick1948

    Would this be the flip or the flop??

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Outdoor Girl

    Romney is a shape-shifter, he'll be whatever is called for in the moment. Should he become president he will have reached his goal and everything else, including the state of the nation, will be secondary. Those of us who have been listening to him for a long time are aware of his shifty behavior but for those just tuning in I suppose he sounds credible. A vote for him is a vote for a shifting vapor.

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. cm

    It takes courage to admit when you are wrong. Good for him. I'm sure many people who are reliant on government wish they didn't have to be.

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Sandeep

    He is sorry he got caught!

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Columbus

    NOT to mention.......The Truth Hurts !!!!! Middle Class Americans are Tired of working everyday to pay for those who are Body Able to flip burgers or sweep a floor just as well as we can. America is the "LAND OF THE FREE", NOT "LAND OF FREE LIVING" !!!!!

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Durrell in San Antonio

    “In order to be someone, you must first be yourself”—unknown author. Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

    October 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. chatmandu002

    Another example of the liberal/progressive double standard. When a democrat misspeaks you hear laughter, a yawn, then a free pass is given out. When a republican misspeaks then acknowledges their misspoken words and apologizes then is never forgiveness from the liberal/progressive side.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. PChem1

    I am surprised that people are not picking up on his new-found love for financial regulation during the debate. This is another issue on which he changed position by 180 degrees. If I were conservative, I would worry, because the "severely conservative" Mitt from the primaries is all of a sudden almost absent.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. como1

    To quote Obama and his liberal defenders Romney deserves the same courtesy. Mitt evolved his position. I am still waiting for Obama to apologize for telling me that I am apathetic to a person like him as I am still clinging to my guns and my religion. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. sbh1cats

    he speaks the truth. those dependent on gov't do not want to change. they are comfortable taking what is given to them. get a clue people.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. gmat74

    Its one thing to mis speak during an interview or speech its another when your sitting in your pier group exchanging disparaging comments regarding less economically stable Americans. Obama is at fault for such a lackluster debate without BO s meager display MR would be hidding from this. WHEN HES ON THE ROPES YOU KEEP HIM THERE. Prime example of why the BO campaign should have seized the moment instead of allowing the elephant back in the room If there really are undecided voters you lost them all Mr. President if you still care.

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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