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. FDNM87104

    Now I've heard EVERYTHING! Not that I was EVER in your camp, but too little to late...Go back to Bain Capital Mr. Romney and stop interfering with progress.

    October 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  2. eddie

    It's just unbelievable to me how many times romney has slipped during his electoral campaign and its even more uncanny how he comes out the next day with a simple: "oooops, im sorry, i was wrong". I question his character and integrity and up to now he has demonstrated all the BAD qualities/traits in a candidate. I am glad we are able to foresee the foolishness he is...if we cant trust him now, we cant trust him with the far more pressures of being president.

    October 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  3. KK

    Guys this is an old story that CNN and other liberal out lets are replaying especially after the waxing the President took the other day in Denver. Personally I believe as a person making right a 50K per year and aware of my tax increase of $2,000.00 because Obama won't stop spending realy sucks.

    October 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. Liz

    OK. So he's admitted his comments were wrong. Of course they were. But I'm convinced he still thinks that way. He's rich and sheltered and has no clue. Of course he doesn't care about the 100%, he doesn't even care about the 53%, he cares about people like himself – the 1%.

    October 5, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  5. John

    Forgiving you for saying it is reasonable....................but maybe not what you said 6 months after you said it and the morning after it was discovered after you had plenty of time to think about it " I stand behind those comments 100%.....forgiveness for the average American, probably, but for a potential president.............not so fast......

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. YWalk

    Amazing, took a whole month to cover this one up, need stronger truth serum as a prescription, the lie quick statements seem to follow and since we don't remember past six months what was said and done, suggest we hire Bernie Madoff to eliminate the deficit and reward him with a place in the sun if he can do it in two years. Bernie who ?

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Pete

    Mitt Romney changes his mind like a Chameleon changes colour. Chameleons can change their colour from one colour to another to another and almost becoming invisibility, just like Mitt Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. gb0432

    Romney had a great television performance, Obama had a poor televison performance...nothing changed regarding their policies....

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Ram215


    He changed nothing at all.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. TheBigSarge

    many, including myself will see romeny's new "evolved" statement as stupid to make at this time. i mean, seriously? right after kicking some presidential behind, you question yourself so definatively?

    the only thing he has going for him on this topic now, is that he DID come out and say he was wrong. i have not heard that from obama on his failed policies, or anything else he messed up, either.

    example: "I guess the jobs weren't as 'shovel ready' as I thought." – those jobs have never been made ready and the tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands, when you consider dependents and increased tax revenue) of people that were NEGATIVELY affected by his big lie about having those "shovel ready" jobs ready to go.


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

    He's right to apologize, because although he's correct about the high number of people receiving assistance, it was taken out of contrext to appear as though he didn't care for those people. He cares about those people getting jobs and getting off assistance, but it didn't come out very well.

    Taken from experience, most people receiving government benefits fear losing them, because they think that's all they have left and have lost the optimism of finding a new job. Romney wants to change that, but somebody receiving assistance mat not realize it.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Jack

    47% of americans are dependant on the government because people like Mitt Romney sold our jobs to the communist and other third world countries and its been going this way since Nixion.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Norm

    Damn right he was wrong, and it's too late to take it back. I liked what Bernie Sanders said about Romney. No matter what he tells you, no matter how middle of the road he may try to appear, he's still the leader of the far right GOP and he will implement their agenda if elected. I'm a number's guy, and the numbers say that although slowly, the economy is turning around, and jobs are being created. I'll take the real numbes any day over what Romney and crew say they may do. The President will be reelected, most likely by 4 points.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  14. Noah Z

    That might make sense if he hadn’t elaborated on the 47% and gone into detail on which people he felt were in that group….

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

    we already know mitt robbed me is completely wrong. first off, he's a republicon...that would be the first indication...lmao...

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. zero more years of Obama

    Oh yes, and Miss Cisneros, your comment about 401(k)s and pensions is not true. Just because you're laid off doesn't mean that you lose your 401(k) or your pension (if you're vested). Before you make silly comments about retirement plans or any of your other slanted and biased comments, you should know the facts. Just so you know, business owners DO have to make decisions to assure that the company succeeds and survives. That means that sometimes people get laid off or benefits get cut or premiums for healthcare go up for everyone. That's how business goes. If you don't like that, then start your own company, then you won't get fired or laid off and you can give away all that you want. Private businesses are not set up to be charities or non-profits.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Christopher

    Romney is pure salesman. He reads his audience, tells them what they want to hear, and tries to create a "problem" so he can sell them a "solution". He just repeats the process when faced with a different audience. It does not matter that he said something completely different to the previous audience. He will say and do anything to close the sale. There is no conviction behind it all, as it's just a means to an end!

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. oldlady

    Does this man ever stand behind anything he says or does he just say what suits the moment? All those people who were so proud of him for "telling it like it is" about the 47 percent may have to rethink their flip flopping hero now.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. not a belivever

    My impression of Mr Romney is that he has been fortunate to live the life that a very very wealthy Family has provided him. He lacks the basic understanding of walking in the shoes of a working class citizen. Comments such as his 47% are chastising statements that reflect his true belief system of his fellow citizens whom don't fall into his "special circle of wealth". He is a bought and paid off mouth piece of the Corporate organizations I do not feel truly have the best interest of the common American, the other 99%. He has no intention of working for Americans and he will say whatever whenever he thinks will get him what he wants. And, he wants to be President. I can just imagine the fit this man has when he doesn't get what he wants. He is a LIAR and a CHEAT who will look you in the eyes and tell you he r-e-a-l-l-y does care....We've seen this before haven't we? Shame on us for the Bush years, lets not make our children pay for sham on us twice.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. OrtheusMax

    When did CNN become so obvious partisan? What a joke, tumbles? How about a comparison to what normally happens to this employment at this time of year? How about writing some honest news...for once...and why are there two reports that came out today that differ by so much...right after a dismal, pathetic performance in the first debate?

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Bob

    It's only wrong now because it's hitting him in the polls. Hypocrite much, Mr. Romney?

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. marilyn

    I'm in the 47% and I accept your apology. OH WAIT you didn't apologize.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. George

    To be clear, Romney made the 47% remark he now apologizes for, in front of a small group of wealthy Rpublican
    campaign contributors, not in front of a bank of microphones, or in public. He wasn't nervous; he was telling it as he sees it! Inexcuable insult!

    October 5, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. Bill Tierney

    If Mitt Romney isn't the phoniest Presidential candidate ever, I have no idea who is. How can we trust this guy? No matter what he says he is going to do as President, we have no idea what he will actually do. I am a senior citizen on Medicare and drawing Social Security, and I definitely fear losing both iin a Romney administration.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. romneyzda1

    CNN please be fair. Why dont you post everything Romney said on Fox? It is because you only use 1 sentance from a conversation to paint Romney and incompetent....time and again you do this. Want to know why Romney won the debate? Because everyone got to hear his entire conversation and unfortunately for Obama, his conversation too. Be fair publish the whole story.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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