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."

Romney ads: U.S. can't afford four more years of Obama

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.

With Ryan by his side, Romney rallies Virginians in debate victory lap

"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. Paul

    It's not what he said, it's the WAY he said it. And don't forget, after this came out, he still defended it. And now 2 days after a little success in a debate, he is saying he is sorry. Sorry, don't buy it Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Sara

    If we elect Mitt knowing that he decisively wrote-off half of the country, then we get exactly what we deserve. This is an extremely dishonest man who has told us how he regards half of the country. As the old adage goes, when a person shows you who they are, believe them!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. jim

    Romney does not deserve to be president after the remarks he made about half the country. This is a big difference compared to lying about policies and campain promisses, which all politicians do. We all know who he really cares about. If you think things are unbalance now just wait till you put the same trickel down policies back in the WH.

    October 5, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. Ken

    Well, Obama has not helped me We Need a change!

    October 5, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Chris

    This guy will say ANYTHING for a vote! Yes, I understand one could say that about many politicians, but Romney just takes it to the extreme. I haven't the foggiest notion of which Romney we'd get as president, the center-right politician he was as governor, or the extreme-right politician he claimed to be since he started running, until now. Now, all of a sudden, I'm supposed to believe he's back to being a centrist? I'm sorry, I may not agree with many of the things Obama has said and done, but at least I KNOW where he stands. I'll take the known over the unknown any day.

    October 5, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. John Youn

    It takes a big man to admit he is wrong and I have never seen a politician ever admit it. Too bad Obama can't admit he is wrong when he took over a booming economy and reduced it to crap.

    October 5, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Jess Sayin

    Romney is the worst liar ever. All style and phony substance.

    October 5, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  8. revjudith

    Imagine this: one evening, after an attack on some U.S. Embassy in some far-away nation, Pres. Romney tells the Sec'y of Defense, "This is an outrage! They can't get away with it! Bomb the hell out of them!!" The order is given, and the U.S. bombs that nation in retaliation for the Embassy attack. Many innocent civilians die. There is immediate condemnation, nationally and internationally, of the President's decision. The next morning, he goes on national TV and says, "I was completely wrong. What I said just didn't come out right..."

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. GM

    I'd like to know who they turned to take a private meeting, in a private home and made a video.... fact is too many people are dependent on the government, that is not an understatement. Let's get down the the true issues here, and not the unending, childish, games the liberal Obama folks insist on playing. The President can't stand on his record, so we grasp for straws. Get over it and face the facts, it's more than time for CHANGE!

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. El Lobo

    romnioes, a poltical pizza subject to change at a moments notice. no refunds or exchanges allowed, eat it at your own risk and not responsible for the stomach churing nausea it is sure to induce. call rominoes pol pizza store for a combitnation pizza of your choice.

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Eric

    I am not enthralled with Barack Obama or how he wants to have such a big government, nor am I pleased with Mitt Romney wanting Big Business to run amok in America. Neither candidate is a good fit for America currently. Mitt continually states we owe China, when the fact of the matter is, we are in debt to the Federal Reserve and all of the families and banks that own that. Of course you will never hear any candidate talk about that. Moreover, I am more concerned with whom he was speaking to at that very fundraiser. He was catering to a certain group of influential people, presumably business owners like him. But these people own business that we purchase goods and services from and I would not like to do business with them,

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Lynn Smith

    So Mitt has finally read Dale Carnegie! Here is quote from "how To Win Friends ...": If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn't it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves? Isn't it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?

    There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the courage to admit one's errors. It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.

    Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one's mistakes.

    One an certainly see lots of Mitt nobility today ...just most people know he isn't being truthful.

    Lynn, a Canadian worried about a possible Romney victory

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Lette

    I believe Mitt meant what he said about the 47% and has probably said worse. I won't forget when it comes time to vote....When people tell you who they are... believe them except Mitt has told us soo many things that contradict his previous statements.... I don't know who he is.... he is right about one thing. He is just 100% WRONG for the job of the President.

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. kramer

    At the "Debate", Rich Rmoney was Hopped-Up on Koch and LIES...!!!!

    With Over 27 Rmoney total Lies now proven, Makes it easy for Rmoney – "Winning"

    October 5, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. newt

    From a famous line in Princess Bride – LIAR!! He has proven most recently (but also demonstrated it 20 years ago) that he will say anything he needs to get a vote. He said what he thought the rich people wanted to hear. In this way, he is the worst kind of businessman. He does not have the morals or ethics to back what he says and stand behind it – hence the continuous flip flop. He will constantly try to weasel out of it, if it is not going the direction he hoped. What does Romney truly stand for? I am not sure he even knows. Let the buyer beware!

    October 5, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. Patriot

    What a sleaze! Think of the slimiest con artist you can think of and now picture Romney... Got it.

    October 5, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. WIMPY38

    You here that?! "Flip, flop, flip, flop", no it's not my daughters beach sandals, it's Mitt Romney changing his mind for the unteeth time on policy!

    October 5, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. FredKelly

    We forgive you, Mitt. For telling the truth.

    October 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. trax

    I'm not a political blogger and I don't think ill ever truly be because its useless in my mind, but I will say this an be on my way, what's funny is Romney is right half of America depends on the government, and all of you that say that he's wrong for saying that are lying to yourself, Medicare, social security are a failing system and obamacare is only going to.increase your taxes and our overall debt and will penalize you then if you don't want to participate in socialized healthcare, I'm not a Romney advocate and definitely not an Obama advocate because they're both liars, and we can debate all day on that topic, the proof is in the pudding Obama said he'd cut the deficit in half, he doubled it and will probably double it again, meanwhile our dollar increasingly means less, inflation increases and pretty soon our currency will fall, at the very least for all of you Obama supporters our nation and currency will fall under the socialist banner, I really can't believe that people either are completely ignorant or just don't care, I'm glad that some of you say its getting so much better because I don't really see it, yahoo reporting that jobless rates are down that's funny too, I know quite a few that have just lost their job, why would they want to print another stimulus if everything was getting better?! Lol both of these candidates have the same economic policy, we are literally screwed, oh well "we the people" did this to ourselves gave the power to government and now the American dream is dead, if any of you have studied economics you can see it, I'm done ranting but my dream of a free America passed with Ron Paul

    October 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. AMY

    "The true measure a persons character is how they behave when no-one is looking' .. in this case he didn't think he was being recorded (thus, showing his TRUE character).

    October 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Ken

    If Obama stopped food stamps & assistance & "free " phones Would ou still vote for him?

    October 5, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. snoozie

    The really sad thing here is that even if Romney actually doesn't really believe what he said about the 47%, the current makeup and machinations of the ever more right leaning GOP will hold him to those principles if he were elected. The GOP is out of control with fear of loss due to the recession, which has bred a feeling of contempt for the less financially successful among us. Sort of like, there but for the grace of God go I, so I better just hoard what i can, take responsibility only for myself, and keep everything I may have used in the past to help others for myself, because the world is going to hell in a hand basket. All I ever hear anymore is "I don't want to pay for . . ." (just fill in the blank, because it is basically everything except military spending). What I want to know is what happened to the governor of Massachusetts? He sounded like a pretty decent guy. Where did he go?

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  23. Rand

    Typical elitist Tea/Republican comment. And more so downright un-American! Romney keeps his money abroad, why doesn't he go live abroad. America–love it ALL, or leave it!

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Teresa

    He is only sorry that he was caught. You don't say something like that and not mean it.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Ross Homer

    All you supporters of Romney who've decided that we 47%'ers are living off the dole. Like a number of correspondents, I paid into SS for a about half of my 50 working years. Sadly, I spent TEN years in the military, no SS contributions and twelve years working for state government, no SS contributions. Not your problem. What is your problem is this: You rant and rave about people who need SS to get by, food stamps to get by, unemployment to get by, and yes, welfare to get by. Most of you have never been anywhere this goes on so you have NO idea of what it's like. It’s hard to climb down from your self-righteous pedestals. But! You self-righteous, holier than thou people, are you going to NOT take your social security when you reach age? What about when you lose your job? What? You're NOT going to run right out and grab unemployment insurance. You get very, very sick. What? You're NOT going to avail yourself of state provided services? No, you people are hypocrites and will take every damn penny you can grab should you need government resources. Think about it.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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