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. odk1

    i do blame so many American for being ignorant, Romney knows exactly how to play America people. it sad to see how politician's can get away with lies.

    October 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. retired55

    come on mitt!!!!be yourself!..flip flop, flip flop,, look out at the next debate.

    October 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Captain

    See youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, the Bush WH gang did it... Note Silverstein connection.

    Seems the Jewish Mafia controls these posts. Grrrrrrrrr!

    October 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. Tim Santos

    James 1:8 A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. I will have to pass on approving of this guy who will say anything to get my vote. Most voters are deaf when it comes to their political party but this voter votes with his eyes open!
    I am ashamed of my party trying to push this guy through too. What are we desperate? Obama hasn't done bad, it just isn't fast so I will have to give him my vote. At least I know where he stands.

    October 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. zen1110

    He stands up and complains that 47% of the population doesn't pay income tax...duh. The reason these people don't is that the tax rates have been lowered that they are not legally required to pay income tax. He bragged that he paid the taxes he was 'legally' required to pay and if this 47% income is low enough they don't have to pay that is their fault? His plan is to give another 20% across the board tax cut which will probably eliminate another 10% or so of the low earners from paying. His website also states his tax plan is to tax capital gains, dividend income, and investment income at 0% if your AGI is under $200,000 per year. The way that looks to me you will be able to sit back and draw off grandpappy's trust fund and pay nothing in federal income tax. Every little trust fund kid out here will be paying 0% while my kids pay upwards of 30% for going to work everyday. You can bet every millionaire in this country will take advantage of that sweet deal. Every kid they have will have $200,000 of income diverted to them.

    October 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. EBrock

    Romney will say he didn't mean to say what he just said in two days!

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. RebelTexasDemocrat

    Of course he says he was wrong. He'll say anything to get elected. Then he will conveniently forget what he said. This is the most dishonest human being I've ever seen. Don't vote for this moron. God help us if he's elected.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. lindaluttrell

    Tell the truth: what is really WRONG is that you got caught saying it...

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. mike

    Gollum said, "I told you he was tricksey. I told you he was false."

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |

    I can remeber a campaign about four years ago where a canidate said he could be trusted. I remember a canidate who said he would be transparent. Health care bill, lybia. He also said the amount of debt the current president held was unpatriotic then he doubled it. He also complained about wasteful spending then invest millions in green energy that went belly up. Promised shovel ready jobs that were not so shovel ready. Said he was agains gay marriage then just some how evolved his thinking. Yeah you got a real honest one there. Then when asked to be a leader he hides behind mistakes from the previous president and cries out I cant change Washington from the inside like i thought. Well lets get him out and see if he can do it from the outside.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Bill

    I don't believe you Mr. Romney! When running for governor You said you supported gay rights, abortion-rights, and healthcare for everyone. During the Republican primaries you were against Latino rights, all of Obamacare, women's right to choice, and for discarding 47% of American "takers" as of 2 weeks ago. Now... It's all reversed? You change direction so fast as to send your supporters to chiropractors for whiplash. Don't you think people have been paying attention?

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. Dr. Norma Parker

    Gov. Romney had a chance to apologize during the debate's final remarks. He didn't. I wouldn't declare him as a winner with the aggressive tone and lies. President Obama gave Romney the time to show who Romney really is as a person. He feels a winner, so be it. As a voter, NO! I am 47% with a job. A little too late.

    October 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. PJ

    What a surprise that Romney now says he is completely wrong. Why did it take him so long to admit he was wrong? Was it because it was costing him votes? President Obama is reasonably consistent on his views. Romney is all over the place – it's hard to trust him on anything.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. jim

    How can anyone trust a guy that would talk as he did about half the population? He actually feel that way about 99% of the country. If he would of came a croos as someone who cared I would of voted for him. Now i'm stuck with the only other option.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. Aadrianov

    This guy is funny. But even funnier are his radical followers. What are they going to do, flip-flop and secretly hold to their belief too? His campaign looks like an old Richard Simmons exercise video. Obviously he is reaching out to the 47%. He needs them now. But is he going to kick them in the butt after the election?

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Zita D Kass

    Mitt Romney stated his 47% fiasco during a meeting with wealthy doners. It was honest and played to his audience. He is dishonest now in denouncing his previous statement. He , once again, is flip-flopping.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. hotpatata

    Wow, and I once thought you couldn't get any more disingenuous than Dubya or Gore as candidates. This fop puts them all to shame.

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. dsangiovanni

    What I believe is that YOU ARE totally wrong....How can we believe a guy who changes like that? ... And we still haven't take a look at your income tax up to 2010. At least 5 years . What this guy is hidding ?

    October 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. Guero

    Romey is as real as a 3 dollar bill

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. Fred Phred

    He admitted it was a mistake – AFTER his election team told him to do so.

    Let's face it, he day after the story came out he said he stood by the comments. Then the polls came back People who pay their taxes and expect nothing from the 1% (but their fair share) were thrown under the bus.

    Elitest comments to people who believe they are the elite. "Don't let that 47% rip you off! – you earned that money!"

    What an embarassment.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Romney is not My Hero

    Okay – I can't take this flip flopping nutcase anymore!!! Please tape his lying mouth shut and tell him to go home (preferably Planet Kolob). President Obama can just sit back and watch him implode.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. sgb

    At least he is man enough to own that he made a mistake. Has Obama ever admitted error? He just blames Bush or the GOP.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Aadrianov

    The conservatives are spinning his debate “win” too. He went too far to the middle, and now they are trying to keep the base faithful. He did the same thing with the Dream Act. He also softened on Obamacare. He even had a Read My Lips moment: “No tax cut for the rich”, throwing by the side the excuse that they create jobs with their extra money. I still wonder, what is this guy’s real plan, besides saying anything to win?

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Michelle

    Give me a break! His initial response was to justify and defend his comments. When that didn't work, he changed his message to one of being "completely wrong." How obvious could it be that he is saying this to get votes???? Anyone with a fourth grade education should be able to figure that one out. Mr. Romney, I don't trust you. And I'm an active mormon. You should be ashamed of your behavior. It hardly seems honest or true.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. i_know_everything

    flip-flopping again?

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
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