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. Elizabeth Rowland

    After the video and remarks were revealed, Romney still defended the remarks. That is the way he really feels about the people in this country. In addition, his comment during the debate that Obama could own his own plane, could own his own house, but not the facts–also shows from where he is coming. Obama doesn't have his own plane, etc.–Romney does. He comes from a different view point than the majority of Americans Don't vote for him!

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  2. Leni10

    I honestly believe America doesn´t deserve to have Mitt Rommey as President, because they like Pres. Obama and his careless manner he has guide the country. I´ve seen in the stores people using food stamps to buy food and pay cash dollar for their beers and cigarrettes. I´ve followed them to the parking lot and saw what they were driving....an SUV...so blamed it on Rommey that his father and himself work for what they have and judge him for being rich, but don´t come here and say that the 47% are all inocent victims from other administrations and not by Obama´s.

    October 5, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. true blue

    I'm sorry got to say it: white low income american will forgive this fool and let him in, they or so hell bent in getting this president out of office they will turn their back on anything he says. we are back on our feet for the first time the plans OBAMA has put in place is working we as HARD WORKING MIDDLE CLASS CITIZENS need to stick together to make this happen for the United States Of America. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. Sherri

    He's not sorry he said it. He's sorry he got caught. He meant every word. It was not spoken in haste. He spoke at length about it. This is how he feels about most of the country. He feels that we think we are all victims. And that if anyone supports Obama, then that person must be a victim. Well, he's wrong and we all need to show him what we think of him.

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

    Yes Paul it`s the tone in the way he said it.He said it like a very uncaring man for people in general.He is no Abraham Lincoln that's for sure.Obama has care to every speech I have ever listened to.He genuinely want to help his country,not just a select few.Obama has guts too.When some in the room were telling him not to take a chance on making Pakistan mad y taking a chance that Osama Bin Laden ay not be where he was eventually killed Obama knew they would have hard feelings either way eventually so said to heck with it and took the guy out.I wish the GOP would help this country instead of hurting like they have been for way to long.I used to be a registered republican,but never again.Never.

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. Sametestsameresults

    Etch a Sketch it Rmoney! The fact that we have clips, sound bites and written word that you "stood behind" your 47% statement after the story broke means nothing to you. This is a real integrity issue, how did Rmoney's campaign folks let him say this? It is inconcievable that a man who has been a moderate in MA. then had to "prove" his extremist right credentials for the last 6 months would want to try and go back to playing the "moderate" again. It will not get him votes it will lose him votes, this time from the extremists that support him.

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. EtchaSketch

    It does have to do with what he said, but the simple fact is that he is aplogizing at this point because he did not realize that he was being videotaped, and now that people really see what he thinks, he realizes that it really hurts his chances at the presidency. The man has NO backbone, and wont stand for any one policy before buckling to the pressure of his party or financial backers and change his mind. He is an extremely rich, out of touch individual who doesnt know what its like to struggle or be middle class. He can never be in touch with the American people because he's just not real. He continues to spout ill change this, and ill change that, but until he offers a solid plan to change the economy among other things, i still believe that he will continue to say whatever will garner him popularity in the moment. Im glad you're trying to comeback from the statement you made, believing it would be kept secret Romney. You are a fool and anyone that decides to vote for you is a fool as well.

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Janet

    Flip-flop, flip-flop. Romney will say anything to get elected. He's like tofu; just takes on the opinions of whoever he's with at the time. "Romney's like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get!"

    October 5, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Dario

    If this secret recording had never aired, you KNOW that Mitt Romney would NOT be saying that was "completely wrong". He is only trying to back peddle because he was caught speaking his mind so as usual, he is flip flopping as he always does, telling more lies so he can get more votes. He is a dishonest liar. Not Presdential material at all. Don't be fooled by his antics, America.

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

    Wow, I think I will vote for Obama now because of all your wonderful arguments. Oh wait. Didn't he say when he was campaigning that most conservatives just cling to "Their guns & religion" and that without government help how could I have built my business. Sounds like he is representing the 100% as well and really wants my vote. For those who are PROUD to be part of the 47% (not the truly needy) your welcome....but I sure wish I had more money to hire more employees to make my business grow. Funny how that works.

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. DIY Diva Unleashed

    I have to agree with Paul – he said it, when confronted he defended it and only after the 1st debate he is sorry and "wrong". I don't buy it either.

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Does Not Earn Our Vote

    Romney and the Republicans think that:
    R – ealizing
    O – ur
    M – istake
    N – ow
    E- arns
    Y – our
    VOTE? Think Again! It Certainly Does Not!!

    October 5, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Timmy

    Are Americans actually gullible enough to buy romney's crap? Am I the only one who thinks he's a lying crook? Where the hell are Abbie, Jerrie, Hunter & Crouse?

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. Ann

    VOTE! And get everyone that you know to vote for Obama! He will win if everyone gets out the vote. Just do it!

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. steven harnack

    I just don't get it Mitt. Are you saying that defending that statement for almost two weeks was wrong too then? Are you going to defend it again the next time the subject comes up? When you said it you said it as though you had given it a lot of thought, like it was one of your core beliefs, one of the things that shaped you.. Your apology has convinced me of only one thing and that is that you are a sociopath, incapable of basic honesty.

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. b Shah

    There goes Flip Flop Romney again. Does he know who he is?

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. michelle

    Mitt Romney knows nothing about the middle class. He grew up rich. Doesn't know what is like to work struggle and try to make it. How can he relate? Of course he is admitting he is wrong now because has been found out. He meant every word he said. Most people are not dependant on govt. But just need a little help. We work hard everyday trying to raise our families and deserve a break too. Fair is fair.

    October 5, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Patrick

    Holy cats. Could it be that, after winning the debate, Mitt fears he might actually win and then have to do the job and so now is back to sabotaging himself? Good gravy, what is wrong with this man?

    October 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Soarixay

    At least he was finally real about his thoughts at that moment. Something Republicans have been wanting to outright say all along. He used that same intensity and ferocious clarity against Obama in the debate. I believe it was a big misstep to go back on it now. That's why I'm going for Obama again if he shows his strength in the next two debates. We all know he's got what it takes. We've all been there weither at home, work or school. We've all lead ourselves or others out of tough times and rarely do we get it all done or correct the first time. I believe Obama will fix his mistakes from last term and focus 100% on what he should have been doing now that Romney laid it down clear and concise, the way we should have laid it down to him. We can't baby him anymore, being tough like Romney was on him is what he needed. He'll build strength from it.

    October 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. dcd

    No Romney, you weren't wrong. You were merely telling the truth. Now you are running from your own words that you defended for the last 17 days. If any of you think he had an epiphany and realized he was wrong your sorely mistaken. This man will flip-flop on anything and everything and if you don't realize it now it wll be too late once he is elected. We the people cannot stand for blatant lies and truth stretchen like we have seen with the Romney campaign. If Romney and Ryan are the best the republicans can offer this country is in real strouble not just economically but morally also.

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

    He's such a liar. But the masses will believe him. He's going to smile and lie his way to the White House and then the middle class will plummet down into the depths of despair while the rich get richer.

    October 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Ginger

    Well well well, will the "God and gun clingers" please come out of the towns, woods, city streets and vote this President out of the Oval office, He has had 4 years and I would like one, just one person to tell me exactly what he has done to help the middle class. Anyone???? Yeah ,that's what I thought. I could call him a liar and a snakeoil salesman but hey ,we already know that. Oh, I mean those of us that do think.

    October 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. GOP factually challenged

    Sorry, but you are not just wrong you are dishonest. Now he is flipping on this issue when he meant every word he said at the fund raising event. Another reason not to trust Mitt the flip flopper.

    October 5, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. mia

    I don't think he is being dishonest at all. In fact, his comment on the other 47% is rather truthfull.If he plans on focusing on decreasing government and expanding small businesses, a lot of people who rely on the government will not vote for him and he has to plan for that. People just hate how honest he is actually being.

    October 5, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Kolo

    I am a Mormon. If it is that same church principles I was thought this man is following then this won't be Mitt. But the Mitt that started this campaign is neither 1/10 nearer to Mormonism nor Christianity. What a PATHETIC LIAR and anathematic enigma. I am not a fan of Obama but in real sense Obama confounded Romney and give him the chance to disgrace himself during the debate. Independent.

    October 5, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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