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. Name: Sharon

    He was wrong, and for anyone running for President of the United States, I see it as the start of a very long list of the wrongs he will do/leave for the country to clean up.

    October 5, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Garrett

    He just said what everybody knows.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. CatSh

    So...which Mitt Romney is this one? The "Severe Conservative" Mitt or the "Mass. Mitt"?

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Sandy Nuss

    If I were a Republican, I would wonder who Mitt Rimney really is, he changes his mind all the time and has no real answers. I have never seen someone like that flip flop so much as he has, and still does.
    Obama at least stays on his plan so you know where he is.
    Romney took charge of the debate, interuped the Moderator and Obama and out and out lied, if that is a win, it does not say much for those who were watching or reporting but now that things a settling the truth is coming out .!

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Anthony Busby

    I think Mr. Romney was being completely honest when he made his original statement and that this I was completely wrong statement is to try and cover up his true feelings and intensions. It makes me sick to hear someone like this. Although with Obama who is trying to strategically take away our rights and give everything away to illegal immigrants the real question is who is better of the two evils? Who will provide us with the least amount of doom?

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Chelsea

    The comments were extremely inappropriate, considering they came from someone who has never had to turn to government assistance in order to bring food on to the table for their kids or be able to keep a roof over their heads with subsidized housing. The hilarity ensues though as you see him back track: he backed it at first (or just didn't say anything about it), and then he attempted to justify the remarks, and now he's apologizing after the debate? So pretty much his advisors were like "Hey, maybe you shouldn't be such a stuck up rich boy so people will like you and TRUST you enough to vote for you, considering you're on the wrong spectrum of the populus who is votiing". Or maybe I'm just reading into these patterns too much.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Tahoe

    Mitt's typical flip-flopping pandering routine...another change of direction on his initial and reinforced original position. The flip-flopping is becoming pathelogical at this point....not sure what version of talking points we are getting day to day...must be tough for the Romney campaign to keep up. Do your homework as a voter and fact check the info spewed from both campaigns.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  8. Mark

    Sorry, but I don't think he should change his stance. I think he was right in the first place. If you aren't paying your full share of Federal taxes then you are reliant on the governement, or someone else to cover your tab. Sorry but that is the truth .... Unless you are at a lower salary and want to pay your share then you fall into the 47%.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. kraaylandis

    Lets look at this as a job interview.
    The employer (American Voter) tells the prospective employee (Mitt) that they need to see tax returns. Incomplete returns are provided.

    The employer catches the prospective employee changing his possition on every basic subject that he is asked his possition on. There is no honesty or trust established; it is in fact severely damaged.

    Does this guy get hired? Not by a "thoughtful" employer.

    Be thoughtful America. The Obama adimistration is not perfect. But it has had a very deep hole to dig this country out of. Both domesticly and globaly, we must have a President that is princibled, grounded, and of good charactor. We have these basics in Obama; we know we have none of this in Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. Grinning Libber

    Mitt we know what you meant.. you are SO OVER.

    October 5, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. robert moreno

    Honesty is the best policy. Obama is a sneak and a lair. Note: Fast & furious and his lybia lies. I don't know why the lib media isn't honest enough to cover the real facts. 3 dead border agents, 1 ambassador and 3 seals dead but the libs are hush hush...Wow. You guys have no room to talk about Romney.

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

    Mr: Romney is a Bush tax breake beneficiary,but he don't create jobs in the USA,he hide his money overseas.

    October 5, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. bob

    he is right 47% will vote obama, and people will do it for benefits, i know i am one of tose people. so quite being vocal and take responsibility if you are one of those 47% ers

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Linda

    I'm from Massachusetts. This videotaped statement is what Mitt really believes. He has no idea what it is like to be in the middle class or to be poor!!! Everything else Romney says while campaigning is scripted to get more people to vote for him. He's a phony who during the debate decides to take credit for the good things happening in Massachusetts like education. During the campaign he distanced himself from Massachusetts. He was an absentee governor and only used that position as a stepping stone to try to become the President.

    I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth!!! I can't believe that the public believed what he was saying on Wednesday night!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. hypatia

    Can this guy talk to himself without lying? Flipflopping Pinnochio!

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Billsf

    Romney flip flops more than a fish out of water!

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. what he should have said

    Romney should have elaborated how he's going to help people get off welfare and reduce homelessness and such to reduce the number of freeloaders. and he does emphasize how he wants to lower the unemployment rate

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Gary

    OK Mitt, now you say that you were completly wrong to demean the 47% but you certainly still believe it. All of those seniors, disabled, disabled military, retired military, and working poor will not forget this one. By the way get Ryan to retract his comment from the other day when he said that the 47% need to get jobs so they can pay taxes.

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. RettasVegas

    Mitt-Rob-Me is the prime example why many Americans HATE politicians, he is a very dishonest man, I'am so sick of hearing about his faith, and family vaules...really? Why don't we see them?

    The GOP has to buy his way, there is no way this man could run without the 1%, and that says it all to me as a voter!

    And now the jobs are showing good numbers, with one more report due the Friday before the election, that will boost Obama's record even higher!

    I hope the GOP is up at night, as they should be, they can't fillerbuster the jobs reports!


    Independent, woman in the swing state of NV, still swinging towards OBAMA, again!

    HONESTY, that is a key trait missing in this mans campaign...it's all smoke & mirrows, it's frightning the GOP has bought & paid for him to ride with then this far...he is truly a selfserving, desperate, wanna a be president, even if he he has to pander to ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN!

    October 5, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. mike electrician

    Of course he does, this is Captain 180. This is just a long list of his about faces, (abortion, immigration, health care, taxes, gun control). First he said he stood by his statement, then said, "it was inelegant" but still stand by it, now "I was wrong"...

    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. Colorado Vet

    Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep. You can't back out of this one Mitt.

    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  22. CatSh

    So...which Mitt Romney is this one? The "Severe Conservative" Mitt or the "Moderate Republican Mitt"?

    October 5, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Francisco

    After the 47% video came out, Romney said that he STANDS by his statement. Now he says he was COMPLETELY wrong. You know, this is offensive for us americans. He things we Americans are fools and stupid. He thinks we are gullible. I am offended that he things us americans are stupid enough to see him change his mind in a second. It is not like this video was from 5 years ago or 7 years ago. People do change their minds. However this was very soon, and he was at a fund-raiser for THIS presidency race. The video about 47% was like in may. So last month, in September, he video comes out and he STOOD BY his statement. Then like 2-3 weeks later, today, he says he is completely wrong.

    Like seriously? Am I really that stupid to fall for this?

    What he is trying to do is that he had a good debate, even though it was filled with lies, and now he wants to say that he was wrong so that Obama has nothing to say on him. But that's just not the case, we Americans are not stupid enough to believe that is the case. He said those comments behind closed doors running for THIS, let me say it again, he said that 47% comment at a fund-raiser for THIS PRESIDENCY RACE!!! And then HE STOOD BY his statement. I am offended that he thinks he is so good that we believe him. I can picture him saying "Americans forget everything, I will just say I was wrong, and then they will believe me and forget about it.". Well Romney that is not the case. We still want to see your Tax returns, no one forgot that. We have NOT and WILL NOT forget about your truthful 47% comment. And we have NOT forgotten about BAIN Capital and still want the TRUTH.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. Son Le

    I've never seen an honest politician. Have you? If so, he/she's in the wrong line of work. Romney admitted his mistake and let's move on. We all have a lot of problems and issues to deal with. Obama has had his chance. We do need a candidate with a solid record and knowledge to drive us forward. Mitt will win this election based on Obama's record. If he doesn't, there must be something are really wrong with GOP.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  25. KGB263

    You know, you speak your mind you're wrong, you don't speak your mind you're wrong, you don't apologize your'e wrong, you apologize you're wrong. There isn't any winning, so just say what you mean and mean what you say, if there is heat, well, stick up for what you said, unless you're proven wrong, then oops, my bad. We have cops beating civilians, kids out of control, and politicains just saying what you want to hear, stand up and take back America by force people.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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