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. Ram215

    The only reason why Obama failed to attack Romeny, because he did not want Romney to attack him as an empty suit reading telepromter president. a FOUR FAILURE!

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Valerie

    This man needs to come live like I do on what I make a year. He is to busy lining his own pockets with making his investments in China, and Mexico. Why sent the job7s there we have enough of them in this country taking ours. In 1978. My father, uncles, cousins, and husbdnd lost jobs in Pa. Because all our steel mills closed because people like Mitt Romney sent our jobs over seas. Now to try and recant he was wrong about the statement made about 47 percent of americans are dependent on the goverment, you could not be more wrong, we are the backbone of this country NOT YOU MITT! I will not be voting for in November because to me you are out for yourself and NOT AMERICANS LIKE ME AND MY FAMILY!

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. SwollenGoat


    Shake that Etch-a-sketch Mr. Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. paul

    This guy is a down the line hypocrit...last two weeks he stood behind his comments,now it was wrong,which is it flip flopper??..you couldnt lie straight in bed mitt old boy.You cannot be trusted with our economy,our military and our people.You change like the wind,your dangerous and unpredictable....go away!

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. Keleele

    This man is not to be trusted. He says something today and change his mind the next day. He is a dangerous man and people need to watch him very carefully expecially those 47% he was refering to otherwise they will regret one day.

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. cwgmpls

    @NANA810 Romney just said it is not the truth. After he said it is the truth. So was Romney right before he was wrong, or is it the other way around?

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Alex Rodriguez

    Mitt Romney is such a pathological liar as can be . He will say anything to get elected.

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. TPC

    Someone who has never in his life felt any financial stress other than having to ask his parents for money is COMPLETELY WRONG for the job.

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Big_D

    Mitt is wrong about a lot. He thinks that people want to have no pride in what they do and nothing could be further from the truth. All work is honorable and just because you are rich don't forget that. This always makes me wish Mitt had to work in the field or on a roof or loading a truck for a while before he insults hard working Americans because they have not been as lucky as him.

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Gerry Daley

    In Massachusetts we saw these flip flops constantly. Only a totall fool would think that anything this man says is a belief. He is without principles – except the principle of self-interest. There is no there there" when it comes to Romney whatsoever.

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. G

    Does Romney remind you more of a used car salesman or a game show host?

    October 5, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. janer52

    of course he was 'completely wrong'...to get votes. this guy is SCARY.

    October 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Khaleeshi

    Flip Flopping again – first he said he didn't care about 47% of the country, then he doubled-down on it, now he's taking it all back. Too bad you can't take it back Willard – he all heard how you speak what you really think when you with your billionaire buddies. Just wait, in the next day or so he'll be flip flopping on killing big bird too.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. 351969

    Now trying to drum up votes from the 47%. He's going to get creamed but good.

    October 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |

    Not only did he mean it but he went on the explain his position. So is he completely wrong that he spoke his mind, said it in front of people or got caught no caring about the 47%. I'm pretty sure he meant it as he is an honest man that speaks his mind............until he gets called out!

    October 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    yes Mitt Romney always wrong

    October 5, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. rao

    Which Romney should we must believe..47% statement Romney..Elegantly confirming that 47% statement Romney..Today's "I'm wrong" Romney..Tomorrow's (who knows what statement he tells) Romney..

    Big flip flopper and big liar Mr. Romney.

    Stand up and come up with 1 single statement, and don't tell a new statement everyday.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. lou

    Exactly how long is this going to be a headline story on CNN's home page? I think there may be better headlines pumping up President Obama while he stumps by now.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Willa45

    What Romney thinks or says ABOUT 47% of the American People behind closed doors cannot be "erased". by whatever he says TO the same 47%. . So now he says he was wrong? Does Romney really think that telling people what he thinks they want to hear, will make nice? I didn't think so!

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Big_D

    It's easy for a man that never really had to work to judge others. I wish he would lose every dime and have to work like normal people. Too bad they gave him amnesty for being a tax cheat. If you think I'm wrong get Mitt to prove it.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. leejae

    I'd like to know why more attention hasn't been paid to the fact that whoever recorded this committed a crime, under Florida law.

    I also think it's so typical of our "waa – you hurt my feelings" society to not take this comment for what it was: an off the cuff expression of the fact that yes – many people in this country rely heavily on the government for their support, and those people are not going to vote for a guy who may reduce what's available to them.

    It's a case of knowing your audience – who here hasn't said something like "I hate people who don't signal." Do you really? No.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. ug

    Funny how only libs cover this lie...vote Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. bob

    Even a used-car salesman would be more convincing. Of course, the used-car salesman has had to earn a living by decieving others. Mitt never had to earn anything – so he's never had to depend on his lying for his living. Should Americans buy into this – thenb they'll deserve what befalls them. 4 years of digging out of the tragedy of teh bush adminstration should have taught Americans something – but – are they smart enough to learn the lesson?

    October 5, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Iva Pinion

    Oh, I guess he's not an elitist, pompous jerk anymore ... I'll vote for him now! Sheesh ...

    October 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. tc4012

    SPIN SPIN SPIN CNN. ANYTHING to get Obama's embarrassing debate off the front page...LOL! Funny thing is 47% DO NOT CONTRIBUTE ANY FEDERAL INCOME TAX and yet take a lion's share of the benefit! That is the 47% that are automatic vote for Obama who wants to give out more obama phones, more food stamps, more obama bucks, more welfare etc etc etc... Sorry TRUTH HURTS!

    October 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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