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. Jack Welch is a hack.

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

    Obama wins.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. robert

    i think the Mayans where right. The world is going to come to a end in 2012. If Mitt Romney wins the election. Cause he will start a nuclear war with china and Russia and Iran. We can't allow romney to win!

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Tim

    I think this along with more and more evidence that Romney is an unequivocal liar.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. estanislao g baltazar, jr

    Well Romney look down too low on the 47% of the population. It was ugly, racist and worst comment of a person to a group of people.
    I am a senior and poor. Paid many ton taxes before. Romney will be bad for the 47% of the population. Many of the 57% will have problems one way or other and Romney will dislike them too.

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

    Glad you're waking up to reality, Romney, now get out of the way, adults are talking.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    This is amazing! Just last week he stood behind the 47 percent comment and repubs got behind him also! Can anyone believe this? This man will say ANYTHING to get elected! Including lying, cheating and stealing!

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. isthisthingon?

    Personally, I don't think his comments were far off about people wanting government to take care of them; that's certainly a problem in this country. Additionally, he's admitted to his comments being wrong, which is something Obama would never do!

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    hate to break it but the US has a liar in office.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. iab

    If a man will lies he will cheat and steal.

    October 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. lindaluttrell

    Truth hurts...don't it...

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. zscape123

    Mitt will say ANYTHING to get elected. We have seen and heard the real Mitt and how he feels for the poor and middle class. "I don't care about the poor" he stated early on in the campaign. We cannot trust him if he will not show us his tax returns for ten years, like his father pioneered. We can't trust him if he won't tell us which income deductions will be taken away if we implement his tax cuts for the rich.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. The Devil you know

    Romney wants this more than anything and will say anything to get elected. I live in Massachusetts and he was an unremarkable Governor. The best thing he did was sign the HealthCare law and he's backing away from that now. Romney told us the truth when he didn't think the cameras were on.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Strangways

    what? Romney changing his story and position AGAIN? Gee, what a surprise? the guy is an old-money snake oil salesman – he'll say/do ANYthing to get the WH. Vote "NO" in November.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. Scarlet Cat

    With all due respect for the Obama followers, I agree with Romney. Helping us to help ourselves would be good. Having Obama run the country is like kids never leaving home when they grow up simply because they don't have to, and when they do, expecting their parents to pay their expenses and bail them out all the time. And then when the parents run out of money, the kids have to move back home. Then they all go bankrupt. Nothing solved. Get the economy fixed, and many other things will get fixed inadvertently. If businesses ran their operations like this, they'd go out of business. With Romney, they'd succeed, and if not, they'd know they did everything they could. I'm ready for hope and change, this time for someone else to give it a go, not for someone to get a "do-over". Obama did the best he could with what he had. I'm ready for Hope and Change. But Change who's in office, and Hope Romney will do the trick.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. BSKC

    Oh, PUH-lease...he's only trying to convince the people he disdains to vote for him. Sorry, not me – he's already shown many times this year what he's about – getting power so he can enrich himself and his wealthy friends.

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Mike

    He's spoken, then corrected or changed his position so many times that it's impossible to determine what he truly believes. I think of him as Chameleon Mouth!

    October 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. Cyndy

    Love these comments! Yes, he's a flip-flopper, even on what he says he believes!

    October 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  18. Conner

    Most all of you seem to have been sipping the Obama kool-aid this whole time. Sad really, you mindless drones.

    October 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Jiovanni

    Now he was wrong!!
    I guess when you get exposed everything change. He don't care about no one but the rich that paid for his election, he thinks he is running to become a CEO of a multibillion company (oh yes he is) if he wins we all are fired. I guess this guy have a different story every day, his name should be "FlipFlop Romney".

    October 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. lewwho

    He's knows he going to get slammed in the up coming debates about his predjudice remarks toward almost half of Americans and he's trying to deflect the blows now. He's back paddling now so he can say he's sorry and deflate President Obama's comments. MItt knows he's got it coming from 47% of Americans for his demeaning remarks. He's nothing but an elitest and doesn't how to connect with anyone but the rich and mormons......well until he lies to cover his true opinion of Americans he sees are below him. I believe a person will openly express their real feelings when they feel they're surrounded by their private peer group. HE'S A LIAR and now he's going to play the I'm so sorry card just to avoid the inevitable. Coward...man up Mitt, have some back bone to stand up for the prejudice person you really are.

    October 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. Rogue351

    No Mitt, The only reason you are saying you are wrong is because the statement hurt your campaign. Flip flop, Mitt. Can we ever get a straight answer out of you ? Now let’s see your tax returns, charity contributions and a list of how many of your friends actually collect a salary from those charities, your birth certificate just on principal. And an answer to this question. If the prophet and leader of the LDS church told you to decide a certain way. How much of an influence would that have on you ? Lets also hear your thoughts on woman, gay people, and immigration and humanitarian efforts toward illegal immigrants. Sorry we will not hear Mitt talk about any of these things because his "Morals" are not on the same page as the national opinion.

    October 5, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. brich22

    Flip Flop Romney. What's new?

    October 5, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Drew

    Quoting Ronald Reagan: "There you go again."

    October 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. CPurnell

    There is 47% dependent on the government. He is telling the truth. Come on down to to the Mississippi Delta and see!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Ram215

    The only flip-Flop here is that Oboma did nothing for the 47% in four years and now he says he will do everything for the middle class...Bull! Now his clown Biden says Oh yea we plan to tax the super wealty is everyone that dense here, the wealty do not pay taxes...Oh sey they send the check in to the IRS, you payed because the cost of living went up. Milk, bread, gas, cars etc increase to offset the tax. So you the middle class just got ZAPPED! For crying out loud WAKE UP AMERICA! When I get hit with more taxes my product price goes up to offset and you are actually paying my taxes...hellllo!

    So let Obama & Biden keep on fooling you!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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