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. rosie

    Some people would say he is a flip-flopper because he changed his mind. I say he is being honest admitting he made a mistake. Of course those that are so deeply buried in political hatred for the other side will never admit that people can change their minds.

    October 5, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Jack Tors

    What's this "was completely wrong" nonsense. You ARE completely wrong.

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. North of the 49th

    I'm a Canadian Conservative and while I support Romneys "made at home" energy plan I despise the Rupublican social agenda, their shoot first ask questions later foreign policy and all the flip flopping Romney is doing just to get votes. A strong leader stands by his convictions. Romney as President scares the hell out of me! Vote Obama.... please

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Brian

    It's amazing how quickly Romney is running away from everything he's been saying for the last year and a half now that he's behind in the polls in swing states. Doing well in a debate does no good if you're blatantly reinventing your message and turning 180s on 75% of the issues. Was he lying to his base six months ago, or is he lying to the rest of us now? Or both?

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. nvmature

    Even in a poor debate performance, Obama has exposed the lying, flip-flopping, anything-for-a-vote politician that is Mitt Romney. This guy has no shame, moral compass or integrity for the truth. He will say anything to his advantage-truth be damned.

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. AnitaS

    What you say in private is what you really believe.

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Barneyjake

    I do not trust this man...AT ALL! He got caught expressing his true feelings/position regarding a precentage of our population. He should have left it alone with the "I expressed it poorly but the essence of what I said remains correct" line. LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. tvc

    Will all of us be required to wear angel britches?

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. MoveForward

    Romney continues to prove that he'll do anything to win the election. More bald faced lying.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. John

    anyone behind cameras and the middle of their own people shows who really the are. Please dont believe in 48 hours miacles.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. Delaware

    Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan and their campaign are so arrogant they accuse the labor department of manupilating the jobs numbers to created jobs. This is cold and arrogant and very political. That campaign will say or do anything to try to win. They will lie like they always do. America do not have only 53% but 100%. Mitt said that 47% are not matter to him because they are srubs who depends on government. Now that he saw that 47% comment back fired after saying for so long that he is standing by his comment and now four weeks before the election he said that he is sorry for the 47% comment.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  12. solrac503

    They don't call hip Flip-floppin' Romney because he stays consistent, so, no, I'm not surprised. When he's amongst Hispanics, even his skin color changes – it's amazing. Get him a room with Communists and he'll start preaching the good words of Marx himself.

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

    Romney said, "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%." His whole life has been to shut down companies and put the workers in the street. So far his life has shown he is for himself!!

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. tbone

    That's not how I read his statement at all. I read in his statement that 47% will vote for Obama. Of those 47%, there are many who believe it is the government's role to take care of them. Not that all of the 47% don't pay taxes. To me, it was clear he was saying that Obama has a lock on about 47% of the votes, many for the reasons listed. I think this becomes clearer when he talks about trying to reach the 10% of independents.

    He phrased it badly, jumping from one idea to the next.

    Much as Obama phrased it badly by saying "You didn't build that". Anyone who read it in full context can understand what both men meant.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Nada

    Mr.Romney is not gonna get my vote,regadless what's he said before ans what's is saying now.Flip-flop,lier

    October 5, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Stopthemadness

    He does care about 100%. 100% of his wallet, 100% of his friends wallets, and 100% of hiscayman island accounts. He has yet to show he cares about 100% of Americans nor has he shown he cares about 100% who he insults. If you vote for Romney you get what you get enjoy it.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. Oregon Independant

    Nick, it looks like you believe everything that Romney says – a real problem in the election! The 90 Billion was fact checked, and not entirely correct, and only two of the many companies have been closed. Before you fall for any statement on either side, check it out if is smells – even a little.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. ROMNEY 2012&2016

    I completely trust Romney's word. He has never, ever said one thing then said something different a few weeks later. The man's consistency and integrity are second to none.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. UpsetViewer

    Here is another perfect example of CNN failing to be an objective news agency and bending to the will of its left-wing management. News should be impartial. I have watched CNN since the first war in Iraq. They came out and blossomed as an inspirational news agency. Today, they are a polarizing, biased, and have lost their impartiality. It is a shame to news in America and to journalism.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. edpeters101

    "It's not a lie if your really believe it!".. And is that an apology from Mitt Twitt, did Paul Lyin have anything to do with it? Mr. Etch-A-Sketch has finally arrived!

    October 5, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Joetox

    We all make mistakes........I would give Romney that.........
    BUT.....this comment comes from his SOUL and VALUES- degrading 47% of the American population, when he does not even know the content of the character of these people (including myself) he doesn't even know 47% of the American public.
    To judge and degrade others for his own political gain is not the values, morals and soul that America needs for our leader – the most power leader in the world.
    Sorry will not fix this Romney, your values, morals and soul are not that of a leader for all people !!!!

    SORRY ROMNEY – OBAMA 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Jill

    Tim Santos says: "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."

    I like it! Good, rational comment. 🙂

    October 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Ram215

    Atleast Romeny admits...Obama blames Bush...by now George Washington!

    October 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Sh Will

    What a shame. This is one candidate I have seen in recent times who will blatantly and unashamedly lie whenever he can and depending on his audience. He lied about his healthcare, he lied about hi opposition to GM bailout and now this.
    WOW!!! just WOW!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  25. nvmature

    Romney now says he's for regulation. He's been arguing against any kind of regulation for months, but at the debate he suddenly became a fan. The man is simply a liar.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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