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. ConsiderThis, FL

    Everybody already knows that mitt was wrong when he made the comments. HERE, HE'S ADMITTING ONLY THAT HE WAS WRONG FOR SAYING IT, NOT THAT HE IS WRONG FOR BELIEVING IT! Mitt Romney is a pathological liar and anyone who votes for him for POTUS doesn't have a brain cell left in their skulls. CAN'T YOU SEE THAT THIS MAN IS FULL OF LIES AND DECEPTION?

    October 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. RobK

    Maybe wrong about the percentage, but the observation was spot on. You've got to REALLY be pathetic if you think there isn't a LARGE group of people out there (on BOTH sides) who just hear what they want to hear and make decisions that defy all rational logic "just because." Further we DO live in a society becoming increasingly dominated by people standing around with their hands out while blaming everyone else for whatever adverse situation they find themselves in.

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Mary

    I'm one of those 47% who isn't a victim and don't believe the Government owes me anything but is bound to keep promises to provide me with the Social Security and Medicare benefits from the fund I handsomely paid into for over 40 years. Mr. Romney can back pedal all he wishes. Usually, the first thing that is said spontaneously is what the speaker truly feels. I truly feel he can't be my President.

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. NameBarb

    Really??? I am a republican and im not buying what hes selling now.

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. DaveinPA

    You cannot believe anything Romney says. He'll say and do anything to get elected.

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. 1bigboy

    This is news? Mitt Romney has flipped on every major issue since running for president in 2008, this is just the latest and not the last. Voting for Romney is like taking a multiple choice exam . The correct answer is "all the above".

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Name Travis

    With your obamacare believe me canadian healthcare system has a lot of problems! Come up here and try and find a family doctor good luck! You will go backwards!!

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Tim Santos

    Mitt will tell you what you want to hear to get your vote, use you like a condom and then throw you away after he is done.

    October 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. Long-term observer

    Oh, the "flip-flopper" with "Massachusetts values" who "knows French" was "for" that comment before he was "against" it? Shades of what the Republicans said about John Kerry in 2004?

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Todd E

    Apology accepted. Let's move on.

    -Todd Elia
    Obama '12

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Viking

    It appears to me that the one who can't be trusted is President Obabma. It was striking that as soon as he didn't have a teleprompter to read from, he fell apart. His campaign speeches the very next day were polished and poised– because he was reading them, not having to think for himself. It makes me wonder who the President of the United States really is. It looks like Obama is just a figurehead for whoever really writes his speeches. When he has to think for himself, he falls apart. This is not good when a major part of his job negotiating with other contries. We need a president with his own brain, not just a likable teleprompter reader.

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. cwgmpls

    Well, that's a start. Since we are on the topic, what else are you "completely wrong" about?

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. joelene

    "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!!"

    do you hear how you are justifying what he said? HE LIED TO THEM...really?! does the US need A LIAR IN OFFICE...no!

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. VKlaver

    He's completely wrong because he was completely busted...:)

    October 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. SFLocal

    Once again RMoney busts out the Etch-A-Sketch... Not only was that statement wrong (in so many ways), he is the wrong choice for our country. He would not represent ALL Americans. It is plainly obvious that he only represents the 1% and those who think they will become part of that 1%.

    October 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. AppalachianMom

    He was WRONG alright, and he probably says this truthfully because he thinks the total is WAY beyond 47% and he is the delivered cure, the salve needed to remove our issues. This guy CANNOT be trusted. He will tell you what you want to hear and when you want to hear it, and doesn't have the courtesy to cross his fingers behind his back...he just lies, lies and lies. Unfortunately, there are those among us who shovel down his lies like ice cream at a birthday party. They want more,more, more, and any flavor will do.

    October 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. GoObama

    Romney is a big liar; he would say anything to get elected. Whatever dance he does, he will lose the election 2012.

    October 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. cwgmpls

    Well, that's a start. Since we are on the topic, what else are you "completely wrong" about. And why weren't you "completely wrong" the week after the remarks when you were defending your 47% statement?

    October 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. NANA810

    Wake up, people..what Romney said is basically the truth..which, of course, Democrats are not going to agree to, because for years the Democrats have put programs into action that give certain people a free ride. This country needs to completely re-vamp the welfare system, that is sucking money profusely. What we need is a system that requires people to at least to something to earn their keep if they are capable of some type of work..even community service. I would think these people would like some sort of personal pride in working for what they get..not just having child after child so they can live off the system.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. millysan

    We caught Romney lying...We have Obama doing the same for years and no one cares. The deal is to vote for the one that lies the least. I will vote for Romney. He ought to have a chance to lie as much s Obama has.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. 4mofo44

    I thought Rob-mey said PREVIOUSLY that he was sticking to his guns. This man flip & flops more than a fish out of water!

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |

    His statements should not surprise anybody. He knows he is losing thIS election and he will say anything to get elected. He proved that DURING THE PRIMARY at the FIRST DEBATE by flip flopping on a few issues
    I have decided as an Independent Voter that I will never vote for any Republican again in my lifetime. They don't care about anything but the RICH and will not even use the word COMPROMISE. They made a decision a couple of years ago to stall any type of job creation in this country so they could hurt the economy and defeat this President.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. Grand Dad

    Neither Flip nor Flop...Just a single comment made in a rather informal setting to an audience who fully understood the meaning and context. i.e...."There is a large percentage of the voters who will vote for Pres. Obama regardless how much effort and money are used to reach them." Was 47% too high? Sure it was. Did Gov. Romney retract the literial words? Yes...like a man with character. How often has Pres. Obama show such character?

    No one in that room of conservative supporters would have thought that Gov. Romney ment that veterans, retired-and-on-SS, etc. were among those who would "never" vote for Gov. Romney. "Care about..." in the intended context had to do with caring to aim advertisments towards a voting segment with a low prospect for ever voting republican.

    The liberals here seem to think a few words in such as setting were akin to a plank in the RNC platform or some dearly held part of Gov. Romney's value system. Any fair minded person would look at Gov. Romney's life work as see these few words for what they are, just an out-ot-context sound-bite taped/released by someone with dubious character.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. Gum Ball Ditty

    "The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September."

    Game over, Obama wins.

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Dan the man; Worcester MA

    "I was completely wrong" when I expressed my sincerest, most accurate reflections and true conviction, and stated my utter disdain for roughly half the American population. When I say I was wrong, I mean that I should have kept that truth to myself until after I'd landed the position of President of The United States. It was an oversight, please disregard and vote for me anyway... I promise not to change my position after you give me "the office"... (wink, wink)

    Oh, and the reason I didn't mention the troops in my convention speech, seriously... Is because my family doesn't do Military service. C'mon, you can understand how little I'd think about the troops without having the concern of my own family in harms way.

    All the best,
    Willard Mittens

    October 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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