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. James AL

    There are two times a man will speak what he believes; when he is in private among friends and when he is drunk. Romney was very candid among associates and friends. What he said was not a one sentence mistake, it was a discourse of his political and philosophical beliefs. Why has it taken him almost two weeks to discover he was wrong? The morning after the tape aired, he did not say he was wrong, but just that he did not speak eloquently enough. Now he is etch-a-sketching again, saying he was 'completely wrong' because that tape is sinking his opportunity to win his prize.

    I do not believe for one moment that he believes he is wrong. He knows that he has to save his campaign and hopes that he can sucker some people into believing this version of the etch-a-sketch Mitt. Be truthful to yourself Mitt, you think 47% of the country are freeloaders.

    From the 47% to Mitt: We know you are rich, but we are not taking your 'change'.

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. msquared2

    Of course he admits it was a mistake after the whole thing blows up in his face. Typical politician. A real man would stick by his statement if he believes it's true.

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Leverne

    Mitt Romney was speaking once again to 47% as he energetically stated that he will get rid of subsidies to help fund PBS which represents a little over 85% of the 47% he refers to as government assisted and needy. Just another example of how he is ling about education to help grow it and the economy. This statement last night Oct 3, 2012 helps reinforce his 47% comment "just ask your parents for the money" children who helps make Sesame Street a reality for learning. Mitt Romney you just don't get Middle Class do you? Unemployment lines just got bigger Mitt Romney don't you think?

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Jim

    What won't Mitt Romney do or say to become the president? The man is a Liar! I don't think he cares about anything or anyone except winning this election and he will do and say whatever it takes! Him and his family make me sick every time I see them. Come on America, time to put this election behind us by reelecting President Obama.

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Julie Labrouste

    Wow, Romney is still feverishly shaking his etch-a-sketch in what has become a familiar procedure for him. He says yet something else that’s thoroughly repugnant, reflecting his truly repugnant views, defends it for a while, but then tries to shake-it-away when he finally realizes the enormous damage he just inflicted on his own campaign, oblivious to the fact that this has never and will never work. The middle-class and poor know full-well that they’re in Romney’s crosshairs, which he has repeatedly made very clear; no matter how much shaking he does, they know that, in the end, he will steady his aim and fire on them without mercy.

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Can't you guys let it go? that is old news you need to find another thing to talk about, your getting old

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I can't keep track of how many times Romney has changed his mind. We can do better than him

    October 5, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. olga79

    Why is it so hard for me to believe he is for the 100%? If he's back with the rich Boca Raton audience, I bet he'll say he's completely right.

    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. tedfred

    Thanks for the reminder again, though thats not what you were saying with conviction a few weeks ago....
    FLIP-FLOP :]

    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. D_Coder


    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. Robert Gremley

    Yes, why did it take so long for R to respond to what he said was a mistake? This guy would be a real mistake to elect as President no matter how questionable Obama's capability is. Replacing the existing "chiefs" of the Senate and House would be a giant step in the right direction. I mean from both parties. I think the republican party is no longer the party of LINCOLN but is now the party of "hate for the minorities". This means that the election could be nothing more than a black/white issue.

    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Ram215

    I was undicided...now I will vote for Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Mitt is the ultimate flip flopper

    October 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. jon

    To err is human, to admit wrong is presidential.

    October 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. The Film Professor

    His admitting he was wrong here is obvious, and it also does not make up for all of the other lies he told on Wednesday night, starting with the absurdity that a 20% further tax rate cut can somehow be revenue neutral, have the wealthiest pay the same amount of money in taxes, and not hurt the middle class. That is as absurd as his claim that everyone who supports Obama is a victim who is dependent on the government.

    October 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. ll

    When can we expect Romney to apologize for not only doubling down on those 47% comments recently...

    And he came back out again and TRIPLED down on them after that.......If you actually believe this nutjob of a candidate has compassion for Americans, something is messed up in your head.

    October 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. Dave

    I agree with his 47% comment. to many lazy people.

    October 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Ohio Pollworker and Voter

    I sure am glad I'm not someone who votes a straight ticket.
    Lots of die-hard Republicans AND Democrats are in for a world of hurt.
    2012- The year of a Third party.. at least the best chance a third party has had yet.

    October 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Maanka Lee

    The first comments about 47% is what he believes, second one is the flip flop to get the vote.
    Same on the debate, when he said he won't increase tax for middle class, he did not say that he won't decrease tax for the rich. Flip flops are dangerous for domestic and foreign policies. Think before you say anything.

    October 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Green1955

    Superficial apology with no substanance....especially after he double and tripled down that he stands by the 47% statement. A real leader would of stood by his statements as well as the main issues of his own party...in particular his own VP. Will the real Mitt Romney please come foward. Actually never mind because we now truly know the real Mitt
    Romney is nothing but a lying superficial coward.

    October 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. True Blue

    Just when I thought I couldn't be angrier at President Obama for his debate, here comes Romney and reminds me who we're really against...a chameleon who wants to sneak into the White House with his twisted lies.

    Come back Mr. President, all is forgiven (just don't do that again).

    October 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Dennis

    Flip, flop, flip, flop............wonder how many pairs he has!!! When you are among friends and think what you say is private, it is then that you learn the true colors of someone........we know Romney's!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. NS

    I was completely wrong on the 47% comment. When did you realize that Mittens? The moment you spoke it or when you realized you may not win. And what else are you 100% wrong about, or even 99% or 98% or 50%? Pray tell us.

    October 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Pete

    Since Romney is Mormon, why doesn't he just forget about the race? After all, the Mormon's believe that when they die the husband and wife become God's of their own planet. Who needs to be President of a country when you can become a God of an entire planet? Now isn't that interesting? Why isn't anyone bringing up this odd belief?

    October 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. ana

    And here goes the foot in mouth Again!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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