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. PJ

    Romney is wrong is just about everything he says. Can't trust the man for a moment.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Matutina

    Gov. Romney, Immediately after the video leaked you said you stand behind those statements.

    Now barely a month before the election, you're saying you are wrong.

    I got a feeling you're not telling the truth again. You are just saying that to get votes.

    You don't have my vote.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Tish

    I dropped by CNN today and it was shocking to see the difference in the way the world is being reported here versus other media outlets. If any of you believe the crap that CNN is dishing out then shame on you. Get active, be responsible, use your brains and get to the truth rather than being lazy and accepting what CNN dishes out. It isn't journalism. It isn't the truth. It is liberal BS.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    He said it. He meant it. And all of the back peddling, tap dancing and fake rhetoric can not and will not change it. As so many others have said before, he wants to be President soooo badly, that he will say anything and do anything to try and make it happen. What mystifies me even more is, how can he say that 46% of Americans did not pay income tax, when they saw that federal tax deduction on their take home pay? You bet your sweet pony they paid federal income tax!

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  5. Mark H

    People of America wake up don't get distracted by the 47% comment which at the end is the regrettable true. there are 47% of people almost 50% of the adults living on the other half. look at the big picture, how do we get out of there? how do we change the country? well Obama hasn't make it may be Romney will. the reality is that Obama cannot be reelected in 4 years and Romney may, so there is more motivation for Romney to do a better job.

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Namelisa

    Mr romney u r wrong 4 america fired up ready 2 go!

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Conner

    Mitt Romney should have NEVER retracted his statement. Even though it was rough around the edges it was the truth! this government, this administration has turned people and households into dependents. It has created a society that is solely dependent on government. It has driven people out of the middle class and into poverty with a lack of jobs and a stable economy. ITS OBVIOUS. look around people seem so blind to realize the truth, that Obama has done NOTHING to take America in a positive direction and he has taken NO responsibility for the horrible job he has done. The more government programs and the more government mandates and regulates how things are run the less freedom we have!

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Nick

    Time for Obama to get the hell out and stop sucking this country dry and siphoning $90 billion to his favorite companies which conveniently declare bankruptcy later..


    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. Oregon Independant

    I would say that when it is politically expedient, Romney would say anything to win approval. It is good that he admitted he was wrong, and then he followed it up with another lie saying his whole life has been about the 100%. Was he representing the 100% at Bain Capital?

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. s123

    so we have 3 versions of mitt romney so far on one issue:

    ver1: 47% consider themselves victims and take no responsibility for themselves

    ver2: 47% comment is true but not elegantly stated

    ver3: 47% comment was completely wrong

    i wonder which version of romney will we see in the white house if he is elected? how many more versions are there of mitt romney?

    none of the version is appealing

    October 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Captain

    He got caught in his lies.

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. basecamp

    Obama said whatever he wanted to get elected too. This was a mistake. But Romney's policies and philosophies are still mostly conservative and therefore better than Obama.

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. repeet

    he should have stuck by this. if all obama voters were put on their own island they wouldn't survive. they need all the romney voters to take care of them

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Peter

    Do you think he'll have an Etch-A-Sketch emblazoned with the presidential seal if he's elected?

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Atul C

    How about President apologizing to America for the some of the following:

    1) His comment to Putin that he will take care of things after his reelection?

    2) His administration in fast and furious?

    3) Giving loans to his supporters in green energy initiatives?

    4) Not able to work with republicans and democrats.

    5) Spending not much time at all at DC. Just this year alone he had 140 or so fund raisers

    The list can go on. On the job training (internship) is over and we have decided not to pursue you further.

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. The47%

    Jeesh it was all just a big mistake? Why didn't you say so in the first place?

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. bill

    It is the responsibility of all Democrats to Boycott GE products and services – as they are attacking all Democrats and what we are trying to achieve. Their leaders have taken sides in the election. There are plenty suitable or superior replacements for all their product offerings.

    BOYCOTT GE ...............................

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Michael

    what bothers me the most is that Romney doubled down on these comments for a week after the tape. now he was completely wrong?

    October 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. Captain

    This is what the last GOP WH did to America and the world...
    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, they did it. McCain and most of Congress knew/ knows. More on Veterans Today,

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. Chuk

    Nonesense. The only reason Romney is now "completely wrong" because he was caught. If that video did not show, Romney would not be sorry. The man has no core! He wants to be everything to everyone:
    You need healthcare under a Romney adminstration? Talk to the States.
    He would rather farm out all difficult decisions to "others".
    You want to nail him down on specifics? You have to wait until he "sits down with Congress".
    By the way, he'd also increase defense budget by $2T, cut taxes by $5T, not require any revenue and cut taxes all from cutting "wasteful spending". But we don't know which ones.

    Here's the thing: anyone voting for Romney is like being asked by a salesman to come into your home before revealing what he's selling. We don't know Romney and it's doubtful the guy even knows himself. All because he'd do anything to be elected president!

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  21. David

    Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Have some spine Mitt! Kiss the election goodbye because 47% won't vote for you.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Union wife,mom of 3<3

    I think his comments are wrong we were getting help from the government but my husband & I worked to get off it, not everyone is dependent on it some just sincerely need help, no one knows every situation ppl go through in life, there are ppl who try to better themselves for there children & some who don't but no one should judge & categorize ppl the way he did.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. mslulu

    You meant what you said Romney! Although it is convenient for you now to try and go back on that, unfortunately we're not all as stupid as you may think. You meant what you said, although you know its not wise that you said it because you lost a lot of people who may have been on the fence and were possibly considering voting for you but then they saw the truth that you said behind closed doors with all of your millionaire friends. It is too late now Romney, why can't you ever just own what you say? Because you are pandering my friend. Trying to lie and steal your way through this, but the light has been shed on you now. The cat is out of the bag, and you just saying "oh I didn't really mean that." well that is just not going to work for those of us that have brains in our heads!

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. marco rubio

    so are all the people who continually praise romney going to just brush this one off or are they going to question his flip-floppiness on this issue. people say things like is 47% comments the way he said them (the time and place) because it is what they truely believe. backpedaling now to say he was wrong is bunk. i don't believe him and i dont trust him.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. alternateView

    It takes courage to admit when you're wrong, especially in the public spotlight. But Mitt showed he's got the integrity to do just that even when it will be criticized and ridiculed. I'd rather have someone as president who is willing to learn from his (or her) mistakes rather then someone who will stubbornly push his own adgenda forward just to save face.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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