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. Nicole Chardenet

    That man will say A*N*Y*T*H*I*N*G to get elected...

    October 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Gary L. Wimmer, Master of Lithomancy

    As just about everyone knows, Romeny will say and do anything to win, which is exactly why he will not win. A black belt in filp-flopping, he is the epitome of the detatched 1 % who are clueless and choose to remain that way. The GOP is a dying brand, outdated and irrelevant.

    October 5, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. Iva Pinion

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

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

    What, another flip-flop from Mitt? No, say it ain't so. I'm shocked. (insert sarcasm here)

    October 5, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. on StreetWise

    To the Romney Team from GOP senators: "Sorry, I was completely WORNG! Can we have the campaign money after all?
    Thanks, Mitch McConnell and the boys.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. anra

    I am waiting for the apology on Big Bird....He just could not control his true nature, not even on a debate; Fire American people....

    October 5, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Name

    Romneys foreign policy to Iran. I was completely wrong to launch a nuke at your country.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. F. Mccracken

    Romney with his 90 minutes of crackle does not a president make. Just listen to what he has been saying for months...always a different story.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  9. Mete Krop

    I can't imagine how arrogant this man is to the American people. Shame on him.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. thomas

    Look, the guy said something stupid. At the time he was down in the polls so he could not admit it was stupid or it would have driven him deeper. Now he bounces off a good showing in the first debate and came across as a somewhat human guy, certainly more likable than from his sound bites. Perfect time to say "I was wrong." Defuses the issue, makes him appear more human and get the thing out of the way while his capital is high. Inside however, I am confident he feels now as he felt then. Great handling.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. john Hammer

    He just moon walked...backed up .. shows what he is.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. ll

    What ridiculous 180 will Mitt make his supporters have to defend today...a ban on guns, increased taxes, another war....

    Nothing more sad than a Romney supporter jumping all over the place in attempts to keep up with his daily whims.

    Remember Republicans, you didn't call Mitt Romney a 'liberal' for going on 3 DECADES for no reason.

    3 DECADES..

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Mike

    Gotta respect a man that takes weeks to admit he's wrong...right?

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Intruth24

    Just absolutely amazing. Now he's wrong?? How much can this guy screw up. Think the point is if you win the debate do not go to the thing that made you look bad in the first place. Don't draw attention to your weakness. Even the president cut you slack on that. A complete moron. And then don't send a fat lazy te rd like Sununu to call one of the most fit presidents in our time lazy. Rodney is not smart not presidential and not electable.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. PK

    Oh Mittster – He's so very strong in his convictions. Too bad those convictions change every week – depending on what he thinks will get him into the White House. Sorry Willard – that seat is TAKEN!

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Dee

    This is just like you Mitt the Slick. You tell the 1% i promise not to raise your taxes and we will not worry about the poor folks. Then you tell the 99%( which is equivalent to the 47%) i do care and i will help you . Well Mitt some of us would entertain the thought of forgiving you but you don t have a sound plan for the poor, education, the deficit, or foreign affairs, tax reform, or job creation. So why should we bother!!!!! You are like a dressed up Ken Doll . Looks good on the outside but hollow on the inside

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Diogenes

    The country is still waiting for Romney to apologize for trying to exploit Ambassador Stevens death not just once, which would be bad enough, but 3 three times now. The 3rd time being Romney falsely implying that POTUS was referring to that incident when he used the expression "bumps in the road". I thought that was even worse than the 47% comment.

    Craven and unseemly.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Cliff

    I think he misspoke about his being wrong too – what he meant to say is "Damn, I said what I truly believe and there was one of those blood-sucking freeloaders there with a camera – shame on me – I need to look harder the next time I say what I mean".

    October 5, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. papanez

    I keep thinking about his 47% of Americans comment and I'm flummoxed. Included in that percentage are people struggling to get by, maybe newlyweds, etc. Mrs. Mitt said at the GOP convention that the both of them know what it's like to struggle. She stated that when they were first married they lived in a basement apartment and used an ironing board for the dinner table. I think it would have added some strength to the comment had she produced a photo of Mitt eating at the 'table,' but i guess we just have to take them at their word because they're always so honest. Maybe I'm becoming cynical in my old age, but somehow I cannot for the life of me see Mittens eating spaghetti and meatballs at an ironning board, unless it was a prank photo to show their rich friends how America's "victims" prefer to live.

    October 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. SmellsFishy

    Will the next George Bush please step the podium and raise your right hand

    October 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. jim

    Romney does not deserve to be President regarding the comments he made. It's one thing to lie about a policy or campain promiss, which all politicians do. It's a big difference when you put down half of the population in our country and he's made a few other as well.

    October 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. ronald raygun

    i would jest to say his remark sums up his whole campaign

    October 5, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. disgustedNY

    GoP sees the country in black and white. Either you are a hard worker or you are lazy, nothing exists in between. Saying "I'm sorry" is not going to change that.

    October 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Jon

    My sense is that Romney, upon finishing the debate unscathed, recognized that Obama gave him a huge pass and is now preempting future attacks. Is his statement: "I was completely wrong" disingenuous? Maybe. Flip-floppy? Sure. Shrewd and effective? Probably. What Romney has done is attempt to disarm the president and deny him future opportunities to take the challenger to task (something Obama should have done on Wednesday!) I'm sure Romney is more comfortable with being called a flip-flopper who found a heart than a possibly immoral stalwart.

    October 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. CSJ

    Gov. Romney made this statement to wealthy donors who just paid large sums of money to hear his platform. Now that he is reversing, do they get their money back?

    October 5, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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