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. Andy from NOVA

    This I think is a political game for Romney. Some of his pundits advised him to say so to get more likability. Genuine people applogize right away; Why it took him so long to applogize?

    October 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. minimumJoe

    Nothing wrong with lying through your teeth one time or another ... I mean, he's a politician. It's what they do best. He's just more bald-faced and unconcerned about appearing either consisten or honest than most.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Pebkac

    Foolish move. His original comments were spot on. He wont pick those votes up, so why pander. This elction comes down to the producers vs the takers and the wide eyed socialist dreamers.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. JC

    Obama foolishly wasted the chance to blast him for these comments during the debate. If he tries it at the next debate, the attack won't carry as much weigh. During the next 2 weeks, most coverage of the 47% comment will include Romney's "completely wrong" statement to the media. Well played Mr. Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. ll

    Sorry Romney...a 180 reversal after you said something so inanely stupid 5 weeks out from the election makes it NO LESS STUPID!

    But then you doubled down on that stupidity a week or so ago, reaffirming your original statement...

    THEN, you tripled down on that same stupidity even after that.

    You meant it. End of story.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Gaspare

    Typical politician, If he,s either kissing babies, or stealing their lollipops.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. doug the slug

    How convenient for you, Mitt. Why not just issue a blanket apology for whatever you are bound to say in coming weeks that may alienate voters? Scary thing is, he'll probably win, because when it comes to politics, the american public are victims. They are victims of returning the same abusers of human rights, and the public trust to office.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Smeagel4T

    After saying his "47%" comment was wrong, Mitt goes into another high roller fundraiser and tells the gathered plutocracy "I am SOOOO ticked off that I had to say I was wrong to all those lazy good for nothing 47% freeloaders who think they're victims!!! Oh wait, nobody has any cameras, right?"

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Joe

    And honestly, there is nothing wrong with what he said. He's reversing his view because people are too sensitive to hear what is said behind a closed door.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. Daniel

    Hmmm.... I can here a sound.... it says LIAR!!

    And also I can hear a flapping sound... I know what it is FLIP-FLOP!!

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. dean

    FLIP FLOP, NOTHING CHANGES WITH THIS GUY. If you believe Romney has YOUR best interest at heart you are badly mistaken. I raised a family, paid off my mortgage. bought a new car when I could and sent my daughter to college on less than 50,000 dollars a year and although we didn't travel the world,, we did many enjoyable things together over the years. 25 million dollars a year, just in dividend income is something I can't even comprehend. I applaude the man for hisfanancial success in the business world, but he isn't the right one to lead the Middle class out of the dark hole they are now buried in. NO WAY HE CAN IDENTIFY WITH THE AVERAGE AMERICAN AND THEIR. STRUGGLES TODAY.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. RyanT

    The funniest thing about all of these comments is the common "He will say anything to get elected" chant. You honestly think ANYONE running for the office hasn't done that? Do you honestly believe Obama is actually for the lower half of the totum pole in the US? He can't relate the average American any better than Romney can. Is Romney the best we'll ever (possibly) have? No. But in my opinion, Obama had his shot (as corrupt, crooked and illegal as it was getting that shot), he did NOTHING with it other than a ridiculous healthcare plan. It's time to give someone else the chance. That's what Democracy is all about. And lets also not forget, Democracy and Capitalism IS about small business AND big business, NOT big government.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. daloisi

    Romney studied and cloned Obama's positions, put spin on it to sound like it was his own idea; Romney expects Americans to forget what he said and stood for before he realized he was down in the votes! ROMNEY THE CHAMELEON...lol!

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Coyolxauhqui

    Romney is completely wrong for the presidency.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Bobf

    Now for all of you who hated this liar for that 47 percent statement be advised he did not change his mind hie election advisor liars did. They know it is coming up next debate.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. KingJohn

    Flip. Flop. He was for his statement before he was against it. This man will say anything, anything to get elected.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. Sonia

    This man is good for nothing

    October 5, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. Bobf

    Now for all of you who hated this liar for that 47 percent statement be advised he did not change his mind hie election advisor liars did. They know it is coming up next debate

    October 5, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Dean


    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!
    -------------–If that is true then he is almost as bad as Obama who also bribes votes.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  20. October Surprise Is In

    The "October Surprise" is now in folks! We know Romney just doesn't have what it takes to be president! He's just proved it! OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  21. EdwardL

    Can CNN be anymore in the tank for Obama?..and the first word of this network is 'Christian'?..Pretty sad considering all of the anti Christian legislation coming out of the white house. On the 47%, Newt Gingrich put it best "It is inevitable the media will ask Romney about “the 47 percent.” Instead of answering it, Romney should pivot and say, “Let me tell you about the 100 percent. Obama has failed the 100 percent who have to buy gasoline. Obama has failed the 100 percent who will be paying interest on the Obama national debt for the rest of their lives. Obama has failed 100 percent of those who want to get a job and move on with their lives. Obama has failed everyone in the Middle East who had hoped the Arab Spring would lead to freedom by allowing it to turn into an Islamist winter.”

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  22. Roy G.

    This admission clearly confirms that Romney is wrong for America too. Period.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Nobody likes the truth

    Funny thing.... the percentage is more than likely off so yes a statistic was made up whoopdie doo... that is not the first and will not be the last time a politician will make up a statistic but if you read inbetween the lines you see that he said people who get things from the government will vote for Obama because that is what Obama has been providing to people therefore people who get things for free from the government will vote for Obama because no matter how you spin it very few people like hard work and most people will take handouts if offered therefore Rommney is not fully wrong just the percentage is.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. David Williams

    usually when a President is "Completely Wrong" it hurts American's somehow..... can't afford to be wrong while running for president Mr. Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. swinginnights

    The fact is, there is probably a good 47% (at least) that are exactly what Mitt said. Not that it's their fault, most are taught at home and in school to study hard, get a good job and let the government take care of you. Then there is probably about 43% or so that educate themselves further (not formal education), about how money works and how to start and run a successful business, but never succeed at it. These are the people that you'll never hear complain about the rich and tax loopholes and such because they understand that, though they may not themselves be succesful, the opportunity is available for anyone willing to learn how. The last 10% or so is those that do make it, do get rich, then have to spend the rest of their lives listening to everyone else hate on them for being rich, learning tax code to reduce their tax liability. Don't hate just because they made the choice to build a better life. The choice is available to all of you as well, you just have to make it then act on it.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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