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. Leo

    Yeah, right.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  2. GI Joe


    isn't he funny? (not)

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  3. David

    A little dis ingenues after the fact!

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. Michael

    "Sometimes it comes out wrong". Well how else could it have come out? Come on man. This has nothing to do with wording. This is a fundamental belief.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  5. guest

    This is Breaking News? Liberals must be desperate after the pounding that Obama took from Romney!

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  6. bibleverse1

    Good for you Mr Romney. After standing by the comments he now acknowledges those comments werent good politics.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. andy

    sorry to get caught that is.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  8. Baa Weet

    next debate Obama should just give him a shovel,and not say a word

    October 5, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  9. TomJones

    That's funny, Mitt will go where ever the polls point him, haha!

    October 5, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  10. TomGI

    Is this a flip or a flop?

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  11. gold

    This wasn't an accident, it was a considered thought that he then defended afterward. Now he says it's completely wrong. This guy just can't stick to anything for long. Lat night he threw some of the policies he'd been arguing for all summer under the bus because he know they didn't poll well. Flip flopper of all time!

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  12. Observer

    I love how people think companies will somehow create jobs if they get tax breaks. The fact is successful businesses have been able to make profits and create jobs regardless of whether you have a democrate or republican president. So obviously success (and hiring) depends on a lot more than tax cuts. If your company has a crap product or a great product with crap management, that company won't sell. And when you don't sell, you don't have money to hire. Stop blaming the govt. for every failure in your company.

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  13. Michael

    He probably should shut up about it. Bringing it back up now does the following things: REMIND people of his poor & lack of judgement. Further prove the validity of the quote that was referenced to him. Let's anyone know, that didn't hear about it the first time around, that he is against the Side of the American person, & the American Family. and shows that he has prejudices. (Not in the way of color-of-the-skin prejudices, but, just that he has prejudices, in general.) And, that he has flawed-thinking, and uses certain prejudices to form opinions on things.

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  14. soul68

    Wow, are you kidding? what a no-spine flip flopper. What is he going to do next yell "DO OVER" ?

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  15. Daniel

    Dear Lord, this is exactly why I cannot stand this man. Every day he is a different person. I almost always vote Republican, but I can't bring myself to do it this time. Romney is a loose cannon. He will say and do anything to get elected, and once he has that power, you can bet that everything he promised will be null and void. As a Republican, I am pleading with America to vote for Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2012. A Democrat-controlled Washington is the only way to save this country. Wake up America!! The Republican Party has lost its way, and they must not be allowed back into power!!

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  16. w5cdt

    This guy will say anything to get elected. How many other topics is he completely wrong about?

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Mitt will say anything if it benefits him. Liar pants on fire.

    October 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  18. Donna

    Shapeshifter Mitt is at it again.

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  19. Amit

    Romney is back to what he does best. Keep changing his statements...

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  20. Daniel

    He was right about 47% will vote for Obama no matter what. He was wrong about them doing so because they feel they are victims, that would be a much smaller percentage.

    This is the same basic quote as Obama's quote about "clinging to God and Guns" without the numbers of course.

    The country is completely divided politically. The elections is about the 5-10% in the middle, that happen to live in swing states.

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  21. w5cdt

    This guy will say anything to get elected. How many other topics is he "completely wrong" about?

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  22. philojazz

    Well, Mr Romney, now perhaps that you are "coming clean", why don't you publish a few numerical examples of high-income taxpayers who, under your plan granting them a 20% discount in tax rate, still will end up paying the same amount of federal income tax. I'll settle for 5 examples, say someone earning 100K, 200K, 300K, 500K, and 1 million, and say, for example, each of them having itemized deductions that equal 15% of their total income. Then show us how much you WILL reduce those itemized deductions to make your "plan" work. I, for one, don't believe that you know what you're talking about.

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  23. Anonymous

    haha wow...

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  24. Dennis George

    Why believe him now?

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  25. allenwoll

    Zie FLIPPER speaks once AGAIN ! ! !

    Mittens : Welcome back to a semblance (only a semblance) of SANITY ! ! !

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
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