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. augustghost

    Good grief...is there no end to his lying and pandering???? After he made that comment he stood behind it and tried to defend it. Now he realizes that tough guy tactic didn't work, so he doing a 180. If he gets elected say goodbye to the middle class

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. sufferingsuckotash

    Im going to write a letter to Rawmoney asking for a "handy" in trade for a vote, I bet he'd have my pants around my ankles before I could blink!!! but then he'd turn around and shame me for being "gay".

    October 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Gary

    All politicians say things that later they wish they had not. What he was trying to say was that he can't spend time and money trying to get these 47% to vote for him because they are getting support from the government be it ss, disability, unemployment, government pensions, or welfare and food stamps. I agree that was too far reaching since some of those people may be republicans, conservatives or disenchanted democrats. But more importantly why are we not talking about the racially devisive speech Obama made in 2008 to a black audience, where he praised reverend wright , where he basically tells these people that the government favors white people when comparing the 9/11 victims and so forth.

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. John

    Mitt's transparency with the US people
    Trust me................
    ...even though I won't release ANY tax returns from prior to my run for president
    ...even though I won't explain how I will pay for the 5 trillion in additional tax cuts for the rich
    .. even though I won't explain how I can implement pre existing conditions without a mandate
    ...even though I won't explain how I will reduce the deficit without any additional revenue to the FEDS

    Trust Me?...................................Only if you are gullible or stupid......................

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. anton

    Mitt Romney sold out American workers for millions of dollars. Judas sold out Jesus for 20 pieces of silver. Its the same thing

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Bernard

    Yes he's wrong! This is not the type of president that we need for US!

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Paul

    Romney is king of the flip flop. Don't bother to read his lips. The only thing he has stood behind is the ultra wealthy (I am not even taking about people making 1,000,000 a year. Anti abortion to pro abortion (can't be elected in Massachusetts without being pro abortion) and back to anti abortion again. I don't need to worry about the 47 percent (a large percentage of which is on social security).

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. jboHDrider

    OOPS, I made half the country mad at me...Flip ditty flop ditty I go. He is easily the biggest slime ball to run for office in decatds. Even worse than mini me Bush.

    October 5, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. works4me

    They're wing Romney Day at Walmart this weekend. Flip flops are buy one get one free!

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. HuPhartNgau

    Charming. Another flip. I, am a 47%er. I accept my Social Security 'entitlement'. I PAID for it for 44 years, at a maximum contribution rate for 31 of those years. I DID indeed take "personal responsibility" for my life. That's why I find the Governor's "47%" remarks repugnant, and grossly detached from the heart of the American middle class. Flip as you would sir, you said what was within the core of your character.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  11. Name Colorado Citizen

    Lying is wrong according to all religions. Again Mr Romney tells us something opposite to his previous statement. This might be a pathological condition. There must be dozens of recorded instances of an opposite point of mind evoked by Mr Romney for purposes of political gain.

    Our country needs leaders who make decisions based on evidence & fact. Mr Romney shows lack of moral conviction in being willing to lie over & over.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. Sylvia Fouty

    It is interesting is it not that EVERYTHING the President didn't "attack" Romney with is EVERYTHING the media Has discussed for the past 24 hours. The questions not asked by the President have been MORE in the spotlight and in much more depth than any debate would allow for. Yes Mr. Romney was amazing and I must admit that I was at the least both puzzled and angry that I didn't receive my fair share of red meat. Then I started to listen and all the conversations were oddly identical. Why didn't the President attack Romney on Bain? Why didn't Romney get called on the many, many fabrications and flip-flops he attacked with? And why, oh why didn't President Obama bring up the 47% comment? My answer: "Why bother"? Perhaps by choice or happenstance President Obama by adopting Ali's Rope-A-Dope strategy has now forced Romney to bring up the most damning piece of evidence against his true nature and the most he can offer is "I was completely wrong". Well duh! WE knew you were wrong and we knew that you knew it was wrong...but you said it and worse yet, you said it in private where you thought your true self was SAFE. No Mr. Romney you fit to a T the description Rhett Butler gave to Scarlett when she too was so very, very sorry: "Your like the thief; your not sorry for what you did but you are very, very sorry you got caught". Too little, too late...not enough EVER.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Zoila

    Nothing is 100 percent. False

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. flatbroke

    Hey, TeaParty, the dog is on the roof. You are under the bus.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. Angela

    Huh? Another flop

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. Pat from Ohio

    I understood his point the first time I heard the comments. Most people did. There are too many people on welfare and other assistance that are perfectly capable of getting a job. Anyone who looks at Romney's life history knows how much he gives to charity and how much time he has put in during his entire life to help those in need. There is nothing to spin. What we saw in the debate is the true Mitt Romney. That was the first time we got to see him talk directly to all Americans without the media doing the editing, interpretations and out of context quotes.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. David

    Mr. Romney certainly made an error when he said 47%. But the truth is that there is a considerable percentage of people who will never search for work when there is an easy, steady government handout available. That's the point! And continuing on that path will continue to weaken America's future. A politically incorrect as it seems, it's time get a job and contribute to the world instead of being a leech. I'm tired of working 80 hours a week, and see neighbors sit home, watch TV, get food stamps and free rent.

    October 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. John

    Mitt Romney met what he said on that recording ,and that how he truly feel. He Changing what he said now because he will said anything to get elected. Only a fool will believe what he said now. He has done nothing but Lie and Flip-Flop on thing thought his whole Campaign . Mitt Romney can't be trusted at all, and he even said he meant what he said on that recording and now he saying he was wrong. The Man Is Lying and there nothing else to said about It. Only a Fool would believe In Mitt Romney ,or trust him.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Joel

    I can't decide whether to file this under "flip-flop" or "Etch-A-Sketch".

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. manhandler

    NOW he says he was completely wrong???? Really??? The guy is despicable.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. kylefromohio

    Some times in order to get to know what someone is really thinking you have to allow them to talk, and feel very much in therir confort zone to tell you where they are really coming from.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Stewart

    Mitt, will say anything to get elected. He has clearly shown that he cannot be trusted! If anyone thinks, Romney cares about all Americans, he's done a great job of fooling them!

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. emily

    wow Mitt, you truly will say anything to get elected. Not buying any of your BS.

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Name,prince

    Romney can't be trusted at all

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. o0Princess0o

    Have you negative nay sayers ever thought about how he may have have said that remark to get funds from the people he was speaking to?! Maybe he was lying to them in order to be endorsed!!

    October 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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