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. rcsdinthehills

    After he doubled-down time and time again on these absurd, insulting comments- Now he says he was wrong. This is not who we need in the White House leading the free world.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. I switched

    I dont buy it at all that Mr. Romney wrote off half the country. That is just nonsense. Romeny has so much more to offer than this POS we have in office now, there is not even a comparison. If the debate showed me anything, it showed me how much of a leader Obama was not! And, how much of a Leader and knowledgable leader at that, Romney will be. Thank God for the debates. I've changed my vote!

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. john

    I'm not sure whether to call him 'flipper' or 'floppy' although I suppose it would be appropriate to call him 'flipper' one day and 'floppy' the next.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Jeff

    The % may be off but the statement is correct. Someone I worked with said she only votes for the person going to give her more free stuff.

    October 5, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Name

    What's next? He was out of line to say he wants to represent 100% of Americans

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Gary S.

    People voted for Bush TWICE!?! Do you think that an elitist writing off half the country is going to stop the ignorant sheep that follow the GOP? Not likely.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. lindaluttrell

    You insult me, but you want me to vote for you...now, THAT's rich!

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. Michael

    The choice is quite clear if you examine the history and trajectory of human rights and providing a voice to all in the "United" States. Race and gender were the first to go as dividers (abolition of slavery, civil rights, women's right to vote). The next to go will be the right to marry who you choose, and finally the dividers of income and class. I predict this will be the most difficult question to answer, and to do so in a way that can still foster innovation and progress that the United States has charted.

    The 47% statement (and retraction, whether genuine or not) is one that speaks of elitism and cronyism. It does little to reflect the true nature of the United States as a beacon for hope and freedom and is a step backward for the advancement of an all inclusive civilization–a place where our differences and idea are equally valued and celebrated and opportunity can be had by all.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  9. iminim

    Looking forward to the next debate. I'm wondering which Mr Romney will show up. It must be hard to debate a person who changes his position so often that you don't know what side he'll be on when he gets to the podium. Kind of like chasing a greased pig-- very slippery and able to suddenly change course between the left and right sides to avoid a single, predictable plan of action. Is there any side of any major issue Mr Romney hasn't supported at some point? And here we go again. Just when you thought he had an opinion (he said it, then stood behind it initially) he changes his mind. It does make for interesting entertainment in a debate, however. You never know where he will go next.

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  10. Gator

    So, Romney was for his 47% comment before he was against it. Or, he was against the 47% percent before he was for them? This sounds like John Kerry's line about the Iraq War in 2004. Didn't go over well then. Who are you Romney and who will you be next?

    October 5, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. w.j. blanchard

    Romney speaks with two tongues. Uses one or the other to gain favor with voting public. Can't be trusted... Do you want him in office?..he is part of the problem..not the solution. Remember the last republican we had..look what happen to us. Throw the bum out.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. JoJo

    Mitt's doing his shape-shifting, etch-a-sketch thing again. This time trying to look reasonable and moderate and moving to the center to get the independent vote in the general election after securing the GOP nomination as "severly conservative", just like some of us said he would do. He's betraying the Tea Partiers, but probably not enough to lose their votes. I wonder what he's REALLY like? God only knows.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. abby1

    He is not sincere with that "apology". He is only saying it to get some additional votes. He forgot that a lot of his supporters would realistically fall into that 47% 'victim' category.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. Vicki

    Well, we do not need America dependent upon the government. Get a job. The Bible states if you don't work you don't eat.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. tina

    What do you expect from some one who is a cut throat business man who only sees profit not the human element in anything. He is out to build more wealth to the wealthy.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Mark

    "I was completely wrong" to let that 47% liberal waitstaff secretly record me being honest

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. Tom

    Mitt's favorite footwear...flop flops.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. Russ

    Get real folks.

    Romney, Obama and most every other politician, will pander to their audience and dishonestly play on their fears, especially so when they think the general public isn't watching. Obama will never give a national address using his "black" dialect and tell black viewers the government doesn't care about them, but he sure will do it in private. Biden, of course, is another matter...

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Ann

    Romney will say whatever he needs to say to win over an audience. It does not need to be truthful. When he spoke of the 47%, he was totally disrespectful and you could tell that by his tone that he meant every word. He cannot take this back by apologizing because he meant every word.

    October 5, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. NameJulie

    Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. AverageJoe76

    Yes. Everyone saying Romney's a 'big man' for admitting he was wrong; 'grow up and stop being naive'. The man is a habitual flip-flopper.

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  22. mitch

    He had it right the first time! Now he has screwed up.

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. Independent thinker

    This guy can flip flop on a dime! He has taken so many different sides. I'll stick with the one that governs for 100 % of Americans. Romney will shake his etch a sketch whenever necessary. His own campaign manager said it.

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. Dean Hovey

    Mitt's "sorry" is just damage control and nothing else.

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  25. James Carter

    Romney, you are completely WRONG to run for presidential election. it's a shame on you and I know that 47% is your policy, you are lying now and you will wait until being a president then you will flip the bird to all american people saying again I'm right about 47%

    October 5, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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