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."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

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. Name. B Segard

    Trust is a critical issue in this campaign.
    Romney is not trustworthy. Obama is trustworthy. Case closed.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. upwardquest

    It's good that Romney has at least said he was wrong, but saying something doesn't mean he has changed his mind. Romney is WRONG about almost everything. He is WRONG FOR AMERICA!!!
    President Obama is far and away better qualified for the job of President. He helped me and a lot of other people keep our homes. Obama cares. OBAMA IS RIGHT FOR AMERICA!!! He's got my vote.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. kwolf

    Is that a fish out of water?! No, that's Romney flip flopping yet again. If you were truley sorry and simply 'mis-spoke' it wouldn't have taken you a month to apologize for what you said. The only thing you are sorry about is that you got caught.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Dean

    I find it refreshing that a politician can say that that he was wrong. Where is the honesty in the person who taped it? Was it not Jimmy Carter's grandson who is was the person who got the tape secretly and the person who taped it remains in secret... Crazy political seasons always....

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. reasonablebe

    of course he's saying he was completely wrong– it slapped him up the side of the face and it's having repercussions. if not, he would still stand by it- and in truth, he still believes it. populist follower, personal interest ideology, not honest, just looking to save the votes and save his own interest.... typical romney.

    his MA record was awful– and the school systems were great, until he got there and started cutting things...

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. Bernard

    Yes he's wrong and of course is clear that this is not the type of president that we need for US.

    October 5, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. Steph

    I do not trust this guy. He will lie and make flip flops to get votes. He will cut taxes to the wealthy and increase the deficit even more. He will outsource more jobs to keep his corporate friends and lobbyists happy because this will cut corporate costs and increase their profits which in turn will make shareholders happy.

    Nope Romney has now proven he will just Bush things up all over again!

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. Angela

    Or was that a flip? I'm confused now.

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. Chief

    Waiting for Obama to say he was completely wrong on all of his campaign promises about reducing the deficit and the unemployment. Oh wait a second he doesn't care.

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  10. Tod Smith

    What else is this man completely wrong?

    How about everything?

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  11. ivan bial

    Willard Mitt Romney is a used car salesmen, he will say anything to make a sale.
    Like a used car sales men after the sale he will deny what he told us.

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  12. Evergreen

    I would like to introduce Romney to my mentally disabled adult daughter. We cannot afford to fully support her now, and we will surely not be able to accomplish that when we are gone. It took weeks to convince our daughter that it was OK to use accept food stamps, since she wanted so badly to make her own way. Her goal is still is, and always will be, to become self sufficient. While she pursues that goal, she will have something to eat.

    October 5, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. Laura

    Mitt's background: Saved the Utah Olympics, lead a company which created many successful businesses, was the governor of Massachusetts.
    Obama's background: Briefly served as a US Senator, was briefly an Illinois senator, worked as a community organizer (what is that?), follwed the teachings of Rev Wright and Bill Ayers (radical leftists).

    Who has the experience to lead our country through the difficult times?

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. 0h4real

    Shake that etch-a-sketch a little harder – the sting from that comment is still there!

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Danny

    First of all the basis of what he said is still absolutely true and if you are too naive to not know it than our country is in a far worse place than an of us thought. Obama's mantra is "Weaken the weak to create masses of the population that are dependent on government help to get me re elected"

    Romney was dead wrong on saying that the number is 47% because many of the already retired and sick americans hopefully can still see the writing on the wall that Obama is a complete failure.

    How pathetic is it that we live in the country that our president believes in weakening the already weak and not caring about the wealthy because they don't get him re-elected. Go ahead and buy into whatever the most biased news outlet in America (CNN) tells you though. I wonder if a re-elected Obama can outdo himself and add more to our national debt than every president before him + Greece + Europe. If this country re-elects Obama it will show just how uneducated the majority is.

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Dave

    im in the middle class and I work a full time job with benefits, i dont use foodstamps and im not on welfare. I work for what I have and I am grateful for everything that ive earned and worked for. This man will not get off easy and start apologizing after one debate where evreyone saying he won. Where was this admission when the tape first came out? This dude is a joke and can not be trusted. Ill be damned if I left this man label me and other people as "victims". I admit there are people who take advantage of the system and rather live off the government than work for something, but to stand there and say everybody is, is a joke. sell that garbage to the rich, not to the people who work hard, and are happy to earn a paycheck

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Ryno

    Why didn't he say he was wrong right away? FACT is, THAT is what h TRULY believes. He may admit he is wrong now publicly, but it is what he believes. The country HAS a President. We DO NOT need to elect Romney to be CEO of the country.

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Tex71

    This is like Charles Manson saying he was completely wrong. Now can I get out of prison? Please?
    Nice words don't change anything. A vulture with silverware, a linen napkin, and proper etiquette is still a vulture.

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. poker tells of Romney

    Watch him speak on youtube. Some experts of body language have also done some analyses of his nonverbal language.
    When he's confident in the substance of his comments: he moves his head very little if at all; he's steady.
    When he lies: he moves his had back/forth or up/down much quicker. If he's not doing that while lying, he will also speak faster and get more hyped up when he is manipulating the truth. I'm not making this up. Watch his speeches or debates.

    I truly believe Romney is a top-1% person who is either a sociopath or simply oblivious to the lifestyles of the 99%.

    (I am not a democrat; I am a libertarian who absolutely can't stand the constant lying from the GOP party. This party is full of greed and corruption; they do not care about the security and growth of our country. They are not patriots. We as citizens have a duty to protect our country from the evil within.)

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. Brian

    The soulless, empty suit strikes again.

    October 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Benlinus

    A little late in the game to start back peddling again, this guy reminds me of some of my mental patients at work that change their story consistently to have their discordant facts match up with their skewed reality.

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  22. AL Humanist

    Yeah, he confused me when he stood by his comments at first – in fact, I had given the guy credit for at least being honest and standing by his beliefs – but I see we're back in the familar conservative "Oh, that? It was all a big slip of the tongue" territory. Well, anything to win, I suppose. We'll find out how he feels about different groups of people if he gets elected.

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. dajvet

    Keep trying to unright that bell, Mittwit. But we already heard it and we know you meant it.

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Mike

    He stated he was wrong. It takes a man to do that. Obama still says the deficit is not his fault. Be a real man Obama and say you screwed up as well.

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. drguajar

    He is a businessman and a salesman. At the fund-raiser he told his audience what they wanted to hear. In front of ultra-conservatives, he likes to pretend he is just like them. He is crafty enough to realize that will not fly with the rest of the nation. So like any salesman and good businessman, he adjusts his message to his customers (audience). Who knows what he actually thinks? If you vote for this man, you are taking a chance because you don't know exactly what he believes. We know exactly what Obama believes because he rarely changes his positions like Mr. Romney. I say go for the sure thing and vote for Obama. He is more trustworthy.

    October 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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