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.

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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. fresheating

    "Flip Flop and I am not going to stop" should be his campaign slogan.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. King Johnny

    This guy will say anything at anytime, even if it is something polar opposite of what he says a couple days ago.

    He's a greased up weather balloon who slips ans slides towards what he think people want to hear..

    Co conviction, no principals, no details.. No thank you.

    October 5, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. 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 heck 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 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Hmmm

    Vote for Oblamer if you hate your kids.
    4 more years of what we saw in that debate? No thanks lol.
    American needs a leader that knows how to lead from the front, not one that locks up stupidly because he has no notes or screen to read from.
    This 47% fiasco is all you dims have left to cling to...and ironically Mitt was more right tha anybody can publicly admit.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Jill

    Tom - I think you might just be angry because your man got caught. If you want to see biased news, just load Fox's homepage. Take a gander and tell me - are they biased?

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Jean

    Absolutely stunning! NOW he says he was wrong..no he was CAUGHT telling the truth in a venue where he felt safe among his wealthy peers, people like him. How could he think we are so stupid as to believe that he suddenly has developed a caring heart for the 47% of the population he was so distainful of just a week or two ago. The people he was talking about are the retired on Social Security, veterans, the working poor.. I see no irresponsible people here, just ordinary people doing the best they can. Apparently its OK for him to dodge paying income taxes but if someone poor pays little or none they are are free loaders, however he is just a clever businss man, smart enough to work the system.

    October 5, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. Pete

    Romney will never apologize to anyone,especially ones in the lower economic scales.This wealthy elitist who so arrogently says one thing meaning it and apoligizes to pander to the others probibly because his staffers highly recommended it,those 47% are votes idiot don't forget it!!Romney will see another president in two weeks,much more energetic than Denvers,he's going to dominate that debate and the last one as well.Romney just say good bye to your political career,it'll be over soon,get your concession speech ready while you have time!!

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Bob Bichen

    "I was completely wrong (to say that in front of a hot microphone in a room where someone averse to me had a video camera."

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. md

    Romney is a shrewed bussiness man, I have been watching him since past six months and this guy wants to tell what people wants to hear to get votes. But behind the closed doors, he is all about rich people and coporate bussiness class. He has no interest in how a middle class person can survive in this complex world of taxes, insurances, fees, inflation, political stupidity and much more.

    He never lived a normal (from the above comments) and do not know in his wildest dreams, what a common man has to go through to survive in this world. He laid lot of his employess, only cared for Bain Capital profits, cheated American people by Tax evation, send jobs to China, etc. He is like Wolf in sheep clothing.

    I do not trust this guy a single bit.

    Bottom line is, Presidency is not a business, it service for the People and according to the people, that is Democracy,
    Not a capital dictator ship by 1% of the wealthy people.

    Hope people of this country wake up make a right choice and help the middle class.

    I love US and great nation to live in.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. moral

    There are too many Americans that do not want to work. a lot that collect disability who could work. A lot that get fired and collect unemployment. a lot that bring children into the world and bank free meal ticket. I KNOW people like this and unless you live in a box.. you know people like this. I also know a lot of lazy people sucking up jobs that they do not deserve putting in very little effort making it hard for others. taking up a job that good hard working decent people with out work would love to have. why can people jobless bring another kid into the world and ask tax payer's to pay for it?. Why cant we tell them give the baby to someone who will work to support it. Mit wasn't talking about the elderly or the crippled. He was talking about the lazy worthless people who want money for nothing. the trash sucking up our tax money. God please bless America. , It is going down hill....

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Blindmice

    If the American people don’t know it by now; that both Mitt Romney and the GOP are pathologically mendacious; then there are far more obtuse and callow mind Americans than could ever imagine.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    R'Money has shown his true colors and they are NOT Red, White and Blue.

    Typical sociopath behavior. Tell you what they think YOU WANT to hear to get what THEY WANT at YOUR EXPENSE.

    This person will LIE about anything to get votes.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. S. Douglass

    Romney said the public should hear all of the tape of his comments where the quotes are being made about the '47%", so let's hear it. Let the public decided if he said it and in what context the remarks were made.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Khaly

    The Kafkaesque Romney! How much are we going to learn about him before the Nov. 6 election? It has been a pattern of this candidate to shift positions. Is he Machiavellian or just a fan of transformation? I don't know, do you?

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. ivan bial

    Which Willard Mitt Romney is running for office? The one from the first presidential debate or the Romney from over 30 republican debates and countless stump speeches?

    We all heard the discouraging way he spoke of us 47% when in front of a big donor group. But what did he say at other private meetings?

    Willard Mitt Romney is a used car salesmen, he will say anything to make a sale.

    Like a used car salesmen after the sale he will deny what he told us.

    What he is really saying elect me and I'll take care of everything, just don't ask me for specifics

    Think of the current crowd of republican governors, not one spoke one word about their real agenda while campaigning.

    If you want my vote, Willard Mitt Romney, show me the money(your taxes) and give me details of the tax breaks your will eliminate and how they will affect the middle class.

    Additionally please outline the difference in your programs from G. W. Bushes programs.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Demi Thompson

    Sure we believe you Mr Pants on Fire...

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. SamR

    Too late, you should have said this Immediately. We all know now your just playing CYA. How anyone who is not a millionaire can vote for this fool is beyond me.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Bankrupt1

    too late. we're already mad.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Name

    My job is not to worry about those people unless they vote for me.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Reggie from LA

    OK. Now I get it. If he says he's sorry, NOW, it gets shelved and can't be broached anymore? Is that what we are doing here? How could he be "wrong" now, when he felt it was right and easily spoken when he uttered those words. Oh he meant those words alright. Yes. He was ideally wrong, but the reality of WHO THE MAN IS was illuminated in the rhetoric. One can be sorry, but one can't be suddenly be someone else. Well, my bad. Romney does it all the time, but that's just to garner more votes. He's still the same 1%er 100% of the time and for some reason "47%" of us think he's ok.

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. onemansvote

    Romney 100% wrong 100% of the time. it will take a while after Nov 8 but fear not, some alcohol and a scraper and you'll get that last bit of GOP off the bottom of your shoe...

    October 5, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Debbie

    It's too late and I don't believe him. He got caught, he defended it, and now says it was wrong. Waaayyy too late, a flip flop, etch a sketch, whatever you want to call it but for me its a trust issue. For me, its Romney's Nixon moment. I'm not a crook, Tricky Dick, comes to mind.

    October 5, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. ctbeckyw

    Mittens is only apologizing because he needs the 47%'s votes. He needs to be eligible for unemployment on November 6th!

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Detada

    Note to Romney: Everyone else on the planet knew you were wrong when you said it. Why did it take you 17 days to figure it out? Do you really think people believe you? The only reason you admitted it now is because you believe that since you came out the debate looking better, your reputation can survive a backlash. Do you also want to admit now, that corporations are in fact, not people?

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. ANDREW

    HMM Romney is wrong a LOT! Not worthy to be President of the USA!

    October 5, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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