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. Robbi

    Mitt Romney meant every word he said at that fundraiser, and this apology is a lie just like most of what he said Wednesday night. Does he really believe we are stupid? Perhaps he is providing this "apology" for the benefit of the 47% who he believes are "less than" and dumb enough to believe him. Please, give me a break.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. Mama of 2 boys

    Whatever, Romney. I don't believe you, since right after this all came out, you still stood by your statements...
    You made it clear how you REALLY feel about the country you live in. My household depends on a veteran's disability check, sure we "depend on the government", sure we're part of that "47%", and yes, go ahead and do your job of "not caring" about us.
    We're not voting for you anyways.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. zandhcats

    What he says is not the matter anymore! He has no dignity and shame, how can he face to his God when pray every night!

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Cap'n Rita

    Flip flops more than a Swordfish on the line and just as dangerous. His arrogance knows no limits.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. eric

    Obama need not worry too much about his debate performance.

    What God giveth to Romney during the debate, He takes it away through the candidate's stupid mouth.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  6. this is interesting

    let's rehash this closed door fundraising quip over and over again. because Obama has never said anything to his democratic buddies about how they have to rally against the other 50% of the country which are Republicans

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. John

    Romney is pandering, and now he wants to re write history. I was as shocked by some of the questions those in attendance asked as much as I was of Romney's comments.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. Ludlow Palmer

    Mitt is only apologizing because he got caught AND he wants this election so badly. That's IT.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. albinomuskrat

    It' not any different when Obama said that all conservatives cling to is "Guns & Religion"....did he really mean it? I think so. Or when he said I didn't build my business...that somehow without government it wouldn't have been possible.....absurd! Do you think he going to put a lot of his time and money into the conservative vote.....doubt it. To those who are actually proud to be part of the 47%......your welcome, but I sure wish I had more money to hire more people to make my business grow.....funny how that works.

    October 5, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. dre

    This is a serious question. Since you bho supporters are so stupid, how do you even find your way to your polling place? You get a ride or something?

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. Getu

    There is no way for me to cast my vote for this guy, full of lie and with out any consideration. He lie to his party and wednsday to the American people.

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. Tikhon

    Which is the real Romney? The first one? The second one? Neither? The one who shows up tomorrow?

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. PJF Sayers

    Too late for backtracking, Mitt ole boy!

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  14. max3333444555

    at least there is one candidate that can admit mistakes.... i know, obama has the same view as his partisan followers, he doesnt make any....

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. Eric

    Romney was, is and always will be wrong for the American presidency. He's on a self centric mission – and one that will put a puppet of the filthy rich back in power and in the end cause so much renewed suffering for the majority of American's. If this man can't make up his mind on a position from day to day and changes his message with regularity how can anyone think entrusting him to lead this country is the right thing to do?

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Sergei Matveiev

    And Mitt's heart grew three sizes that day! Baaaaaaloney! Nevertheless, I'm sure Mitt has pulled the wool over the eyes of more than just a few in his day, and his double-talkin' days ain't over yet.

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Granger

    It's disappointing that Romney felt he owed a retraction for tellling the truth...there are sooooo many government leeches, and predominantly are Obama supporters....

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. yogi

    Romney likes to bully, and if would get elected, he would be the torrero sticking it to the middle class. Slowly we will be like the two-class system in Mexico: The rich and the poor. Romney doesn't care for the average American, he said it when he thought it was safe to say in front of his rich buddies and there is no way he will be able to retract his comments. This man is completely untrustworthy, a lying, spineless bully.

    October 5, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. ken

    Get used to Romney saying that. Wonder where he's going get all the money he plans on spending? No word from him aftewr the debate on how he plans on spending morwhile reducing the debt. He is a pathological liar.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Beefcake

    nunya wrote:

    "Wow, this guy... he never ceases to amaze me with how wishy washy Used Car Salesman he is.. He will DO ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED."

    True...but I really wish you wouldn't be so hard on the president like that.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Kerry Hoerst

    For cryin' out loud .. he didn't say anything wrong or anything that wasn't true! His comments were not formal and they were deliberately taken out of context.. Obama is aware of that, that would be why he did not bring it up in the Debate. He (or his handlers) did notwant to give Romney the chance to defend or explain his comments as to why that slate clean. Any intelligent person would understand what he was saying. It is only the cult members that only see and hear what they want to, that will fit into their agenda and that really do not care about this country but only whether or not their guy is in power, that they care about. This is ridiculous and has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Mit Romney is capable of doing a better job @ turning the Obama economy around. Grow up and try to use some common sense.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. dave

    Very classy that he apologized for his statements... after several weeks of defending them. Nice.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. ohgran

    Mitt said exactly what he and the priviledged in that room think about the 47% of Americans he was referring to. It took him two weeks to come up with what he thought would save him from the "inelegantly" spoken words. Mitt has shown what he cared about when he sent jobs to China putting Americans out of their jobs; made sure that he wouldn't have to pay income tax on money he decided to bank his money outside the USA; and, Mitt has shown that he has something to hide in tax returns he refuses to show the American people he wants to trust him. Mitt has never had to worry about a roof over his head, food on the table, paying for his or his children's education, etc. etc. He can say he understands but that's just politics.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Flip flop, flip flop, flip flop. How can anyone vote for this plastic, lying fool? Obama/Biden 2012! And they WILL win. Just look at the various electoral college maps, especially the one from TPM.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. tom

    honesty is the best policy. tell it like it is. vote romney.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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