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. 1nsite

    What? Another flip flop from Flip-flopper-in-chief. It's too little too late.

    October 5, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. Frank

    That's great. Show you your '09 tax returns please.

    October 5, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  3. atroy

    Ok..you were wrong. We all know you were wrong as soon as we heard it. So why did you say it? Did you actually believe it? Were you just trying to appease the crowd to which you were speaking? You are so untrustworthy....you will say whatever is expedient for the moment. Shake it up and etch us another sketch....we're still not getting the picture.

    October 5, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  4. inonnews

    what was that toy??? ech & sketch? I could not believe his 180 degree turn at the debates. He cannot be trusted. He will say whatever it takes to get what he wants just like a trust fund baby.

    October 5, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  5. Wowza

    Seems more like back tracking instead of being completely wrong. We are so screwed that these are our only major "options" for president.

    October 5, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  6. David

    Completely wrong? That's what you said Mitt!

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  7. Practical American

    He's flip-flopping on his own statements that he DEFENDED. Obama not mentioning the 47% in the debate arguably made them irrelevant, now Romney made them relevant again by flipping his own statements. Is he serious?! Did he just draw attention to his worst moment? All his momentum has come to a screeching halt. Unbelievable.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  8. John

    The epitome of a brown nosing politician. I thought he just "double downed" on that quote last week.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  9. Rick

    Here we go again!!!.
    Mitt just flip on his own statement. He is the worst car saleman i have ever seen. He gave you all the reason not to buy the car

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  10. Chris

    Mitt just pick a story and stick to it. I agree you were wrong but it's what you believe. Two weeks ago you stood by it. I'm really sick of this phony. You're running for president not student council. He's like my children willing to say anything to avoid Being in trouble. This is just sad. Jello is delicious but it doesn't make a strong president.

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  11. ColoradoJoe

    why is he coming out now? Why did he say it at all? why does he say one thing to one group of people and say something else to another group of people? why did he say he was going to have a 20% across the board tax cut, but now he says he won't (the rich won't get the tax cuts). Does that mean he will cancel bush taxes too?

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  12. Bruno

    flip flopping master...

    October 5, 2012 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  13. Badger

    Oh look, he flip-flopped again! Can't unring the bell Mitt. Of course you are now going to say that you were wrong as you know that even with this first debate win, you still have to struggle to get the votes.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  14. Stillsleepy

    Can this guy keep the same position on any subject? I've never seen someone flip flop so much in my life. What a joke.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  15. robert

    just because you did well in debate, doesn't mean you can take back what you said." 47% you don't care about" roms. You said you did not care about vets, the seniors and the rest of the 47%

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  16. TamarS

    of course he was completely wrong. we knew it that day. this is just more solid evidence of how easily, quickly and unthinkingly this man lies. He has been lying so long (how else could he do what he did at Bain Capital?) he doesn't even know they are lies anymore.

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  17. TxJim

    Willard... you are only saying that because you got caught and its hurting you... you didnt have had 4 months to come out and say its wrong and didnt say a word before you were busted..

    Apology not accepted.. because you know you dont mean it. You are just up to your normal M.O. saying anything to get votes..

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. Chris Grau

    It was only "wrong" because he got caught

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. Anonymous

    there he goes again!

    October 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  20. Mary

    You are olnly sorry because you get cut; but just know that people will still remember this on Nov. 6th regarless of your flip flopping & lies on just about every thing.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  21. Anon

    What will he flip on next? The joke is if he said this when it first came out it would sound believable but now after he "doubled down" on it he just looks stupid.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  22. Casey Collins

    We were not born yesterday! I guess he'll lose some of his current supporters since they all stood behind his 47% comment. The polls are going to swing all over the place every time he opens his mouth. He's got to be the biggest double talker I have ever heard and scares me to death.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  23. jk

    He said what he meant the first time. People need help, and I'm glad programs are their to help people who really need it. If there were jobs available, there would be less help needed. He can easily criticize the poor, because he is rich. The 18% who don't pay taxes have an income of $10,000. and less annually. And he doesn't want to tax those who make $250,000. or more, but will show no compassion for those making less than 800.00 a month, criticizing them for being dependent on government help. Let's see him try to feed, clothe and house his family on that.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  24. Anon

    Oh for the love of God, Mr. Romney you were caught and the only reason you feel "remorse" is because you know you have so much baggage that not even a lackluster Obama can save your campaign. Also, green energy is the only way America can achieve energy independence because the price of any other form of fuel is going to be affected by Russia, Arabia, and China. Obama, unlike you, is not trying to impulsively create short term jobs in sectors that have no future, but thinks about tomorrow. Go back to playing financial games and stay away from the Oval Office.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  25. Romneyromney

    He should win the academy award. Such a good actor. Go to Hollywood instead of whitehouse.

    October 5, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
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