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. Michael

    Mitt got a wiff of the possibility of actually having a chance to win the election the other night and now he's doing what he is good at and re-thinking his comment and apologizing. Why didn't he say this prior to the debate the other night? Because he doesn't actually believe it.

    -Independent white male voter

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. DiDi

    Having been in enough private meetings myself, I know that what people say when they're alone with "like" people is what they truly feel, unless of course, they are the kind who will say whatever "fits" the occasion. I believe Romney is going to say whatever he thinks is going to pass muster at that time. He's shown that over and over again. Too bad not all of us could go to school selling a little bit of stock at a time (that daddy gave us) just to live and to avoid having student debt when it's over. I wonder if he'd be of a different mindset had he not grown up privleged as the other 98% of us have. A whole lot of us did pull ourselves up but not everbody can be on top. I just feel that "to whom much is given, much is expected". Just how much money does anyone need? People with millions of dollars squirreled away don't need more millions. If he gave away a million a day, he wouldn't be able to give it all away in his lifetime!!

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. John


    I wonder if the individual who made the infamous hidden camera recording realized at the time that he/she was single-handedly changing the course of American history by assuring the re-election of the President? It must be a very satisfying feeling."

    Sometimes, the old saying that goes, "The truth hurts", is most definitely true. Especially when caught red handed.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. Randy

    So was he lying then or lying now? Mitt will say anything to get elected.

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

    Yes Please Do WAKE UP. Romney is a very wealthy man. Why does he want to become the President so desparately? It surely is not to work hard for the middle class but to protect his and his firends' wealth and also to make more money off our backs. Romney used every tax loophole that he can possibily use. Why would he want to close those loopholes that have benefited him and his wealthy friends for so long? Why does Republicans want to take "back the whitehouse"? So that they can push the middle class to do more and suffer more. Romney's idea of middle class income is $200K to $250K. What does that tell you? It tells you that he is completely our of touch with the world.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Diesel

    Mitt Wrongney, The apologetic chameleon

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Clyde

    Obama was fortunate not to have brought up the 47% issue in the debate. Romney was ready to apologize and this would have instantly taken all the wind out of Obama sails on this issue. In fact I wonder if Obama got a tip that Romney was ready to apologize on prime time. Obama can now bring it up in the second debate to add another example of flip-flopping to cater to voters. He should ask Romney what his position on the 47% statement will be the day after the election.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Gary

    Bad reporting Ashley ... on the header you paraphrase "I was", then on the thread it becomes "It was", and then for those of us knew what really was said and hung around long enough to watch the video you can see the context is Romney saying that things don't always come out the way you want them too. So where was your headline "I was completely wrong". Once again a liberal biased CNN wanna-bee newsee contorted a message. You are supposed to report the news, not make it up.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. John

    Everyone thinks Obama was remiss in not bringing up the 47%......You know that Romney had a planned, hoped for, opportunity, to apologize directly to the American people....Now he has to squirm for a couple more weeks until the next debate.......once again Obama is way ahead of the average "debate analyzer".......Romney is already on the defensive after 2 days.....if he apologized during the debate, the subject would probably be muted.....

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. brian

    Last ditch effort for votes. If he thought he would get more votes by saying "I was completely right" he would say that. This guy will say ANYTHING if it gets him votes. ANYTHING. If you don't agree with me, watch the primaries. ALL the republican candidates all said Romney is inconsistant with his positions.

    I dont care if you vote republican or democrat – there is no way you can RESPECT someone like this. Terrible role model.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. ll

    No more lies, Romney. No more flip flops. No more mulligans. No more of no plans from you. No more hard-sells on another war. No more BS. No more insults directed to millions of Americans. No more of your stupid PAC ads. No more of your self-centered agendas. No more of your plans for more obstruction. No more of your anti-women, anti-senior hatred.

    No more. Hit the road, Jack, and don't come back here no more!

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Tom

    A man admits when he makes a mistake. CNN sure does provide a lot of cool aid to keep the haters on the left hating. Every comment I have reviewed seems to be the Democrats talking points CNN feeds to their viewers. Do they ever go beyond what CNN promotes? Does CNN still believe/repot our ambassador to Lybia was killed because of a video causing a spontaneous riot? Our President still does. Go Figure! When will Our President admit his "mistake (s)". Granted it will require a bit of time to go over all of them.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Everyman

    Another Etch-A-Skecth Romney moment.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. William

    Never mind the speeches & debates, This sleazy, flip flopping politician was secretly recorded when he thought Only his big bucks cronies would hear... THEN HE SPOKE FROM HIS HEART! This mega millionaire looks down on & has NO REGARD for Anyone not a member of his club. You Heard Him .... Vote Accordingly !!!

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. allenwoll

    As Mr Ro-Money looks out over the smoking ruins of our nation (That is, if he were to be elected), he will announce in a loud, clear Presidential voice - "I was completely wrong" ! ! !

    This guy was dug up in the lower level of the Conservative "Bargain Basement" and shows it ! ! !

    The current brand of Conservatism is SICK ! ! !

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. mark

    Why did it take 2 weeks to come to this stunning epiphany? Give me a break. This guy has more positions than the kama sutra.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Canuck12312

    Frankly I don't care if he says it was a mistake or not. He can say it is completely wrong but obviously he believes it because he stuck to his guns after he said it. The statement itself, with whatever numbers you put in there, shows a disconnect between him and lower income families.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Jess

    Even PALIN cares about the 47% more than Wall Street Romney

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  19. BlackDynamite

    All the best Presidents admit they were wrong, especially before they even get the job.

    People love a leader who has a track record of being wrong, and admitting it....

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. Mary

    Mitt Rommey does not have integrity, a man with integrity will always be himself, and would not say one anything behind somebody back, and change the lines as fit his own interest. .

    October 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  21. amy l

    The 47 percent man ment what he said and said what he ment period!!! If Mitt gets into office his orginal 47% commint will stand,,trust me on this!!

    October 5, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Hadenuffyet

    LOL.. you think this is gonna help , sorry Mitt , you can't unring a bell..

    October 5, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  23. Name Kelly

    I don't believe him. He just got caught saying what he believes. He is a phony. I don't trust him at all.

    October 5, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Mittens Rmoney

    OK,, I was wrong. I admit it. But only because I got caught saying it. I was right to say it but wrong to get caught saying it. I still believe it. But only when I'm talking to rich people. Otherwise I don't believe it. You can trust me.

    October 5, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. LD

    Oops... with all these things to do as president, I accidentally launched nukes... bummer

    October 5, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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