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. Incognito_2031

    Romney constantly misspeaks and having to apologize for what he says and this is only pre-election. Just imagine if he does take office as our president.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. G Smith

    Romney consistently lies....PERIOD..
    He changes his positions also daily...He can't be trusted...If elected POTUS...no one ...conservative or progressive will know which Romney was elected.

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Dan Farnkoff

    Romney: "I'm so sorry I got caught." LOL

    October 5, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. simpleguy73

    If Obama took a crap, Ashley Killough would eat it and say it's the best tasting thing she has ever tasted. Don't believe me? Click on her name up top and see how bias she really is.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. jim

    Mitt: 42% or whatever are leeches
    John Q public: What? now I don't want to vote for you
    Mitt: Nevermind, I didn't mean it, I'm sorry, I've completely changed my mind over the last 48 hours.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |

    The twit is a little too late. He's not qualified to be President. That is crystal clear.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Lou Hamilton

    I think what is most interesting, living here in Salt Lake City, is that the LDS owned stations, KSL, have said nothing about Mitt Romney's "admission" that he was wrong. The fact is, many here do not accept that he was wrong and believe he was right. You see, admissions of responsibility and apologies are a very rare thing in this culture. Take from this what you can and ponder it.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Dinesh

    A mans actions have to be believed more than his words. Romney has this habit of flip flopping. He changed his entire message during the debate, but that again is not unexpected coming from him. He will make an excellent CEO posting profits for his company but for President a human touch is also necessary. Mitt Romney still has a long way to go to be CEO of USA.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Name

    Victory lap in Virginia? How bout a laughing my pants of lap if he thinks us 47%ers fell for his lies again

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Amy

    This man is exhausting... I can't believe how much he changes his mind or changes his beliefs. It does not inspire confidence in his ability to lead and set a new standard. I don't think I could vote for him based on his lack of commitment to anything. And since he was my Governor for 4 years, and now I don't even recognize him, I know of what I speak.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Rose

    I honestly don't know if he's completely wrong on that 47%, almost half of our neighborhood now has Govt help, free housing and Govt services. Companies started buying up homes three years ago on our street and the Govt put in people they help. I don't have a problem helping people, I'm just surprised we have so many out of work and can't afford to live without the help, sad, actually.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Dino

    It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong. It takes an even bigger man to lie about being wrong.

    October 5, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Jayne

    He's full of it. Let's face it, this is how he and the other ultra rich actually think. What's worse is that other Americans bought right into it and agreed to demonize one-half of the country. What a shame.

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Ian


    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. Cari

    What Romney said has some truth to it. Some Americans are dependent on Food Stamps & assistance Way too much & it's a temporary thing for families. Get off your bottom & take care of your own family. Many people that don't need to be on these programs are & the ones who really need the help can't get it. I am voting MITT & I'm not buying into the "CHANGE" that America needed 4 years ago. CAUSE THE OBAMA CHANGE DIDN'T HELP ANYTHING OR ANYONE. OBAMA HAS NO FOREIGN POLICY SKILLS! We have to remain in partnership w/ Israel if we don't we will suffer alot. Obama knew about Lybia & that it was going to happen & did nothing to protect our own people. NO thanks he is NOT getting my vote. NO MATTER how many time CNN-Clinton News Network posts these stories. We need ROMNEY for our country in 2012.

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Ken

    How convenient....Romney suddenly cares about 100% of the people – or at least for the next 4 weeks until he suddenly changes his mind again!

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Not buying it

    In this case it's both what he said AND how he said it. In the immediate aftermath, Mitty said that his thoughts were just not eloquently phrased. Why is it that it took until now for him to admit that he was wrong? Did he alienate enough of that "thoughtful 5%" to tip the balance against him? Maybe. Either that, or he's just paying us lip service. Yes you are wrong, but the truth (crazy concept, I know) is that you still think you're right. I'm not buying this very delayed yet abrupt backtrack.

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. I Would Use My Head

    Yet Another Flip Flop. There is a collection of RoMoney's flip flops on Youtube that lasts 25 mins. It's time to update the flip flop list and videos though. This man is out of touch. And worse, he would say anything and everything to please his audience at a certain place and time. No wonder he has been compared to use car Salesman. RoMoney, I feel sorry for you and for GOP for coming up with such a nominee. I am a republican but You ain't qualified to be President. And Since I don't want to waste my precious vote, I am gonna have to vote for Obama. Just using my head. Thanks

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Ethics Board

    It's like a Nazi war criminal saying "I was wrong about the Holocaust, I was just kidding around" (Godwin's law applied)

    October 5, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. robert

    you all i see is hate comments here, you know it was nice to see Obama at the debate, he really looked like he wanted to be there.... NOT, i also like how one of OUR AMBASSADOR was KILLED and we didn't do anything our president is weak and a push over and the middle east knows that. we need a new president like FDR, No country would ever try anything against us!!! so how about yall stop bad talking one of them and start bad talking both because there both lier and would do anything to get in that offices, but you know i would vote for the person who didn't lie, if they got up there and said i would tax you and ill try my best to fix the stuff thats mast up, i would vote for that guy

    October 5, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. JBogart

    My reaction to this article, and the position changes revealed in debate #1 is: Who is the REAL Mitt Romney?

    October 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Romney president!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    He got caught saying what he really believes, and now he has to cover his tracks, he isn't going to change how he believes after he gets elected, just another bunch of lies and deceit put out there by the spin doctor.

    October 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Solitaire

    We don't need Mitt to tell us he's wrong. We knew that when he said it... and he said it over and over again. We knew he was wrong and he knew he was wrong, but he followed political expediency and the talking heads right into the fire by defending his statement. Now he says he's wrong? Did somebody tell him that seniors and the working poor and the disabled can vote?

    October 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Chiek

    Mitt is human and is prone to failings. So are we. So for all those who are crucifying Mitt, take a look in the mirror first. If anyone has done even 10% of charity of what Mitt has done throughout his life, he can be proud of himself for being a decent human being. Actions speaks louder than words. Look at his track record. Unless you are too illiterate to read books written about him.

    October 5, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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