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. Christopher

    Both of these man are HUMAN.

    I don't belive that ANY President has ever hopped out of bed in the morning and said to themselves "How can I screw the country today"?

    I don't think anyone would like to have a camera on them and a microphone stuck in thier face 24/7 because I'm sure even the most generous well meaning people will from time to time make a stupid remark.

    I'm was and still am an Obama supporter but let's cut Romney a little slack here.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. jhack

    Mitt showed who he really is in the 47% video, that's why he defended his position for so long.
    What changed his mind though? He's so dishonest its pathetic. And, he did not win the debate in my opinion.
    Obama told the truth while Mitt's blatant lies made him look foolish and like a big bird, in fact the character BIG BIRD although cute was portrayed as a simple minded character, totally reminds me of Romney.

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. marioacc1

    i do not beliieve him not even a word, he can not take back what he recorded privately

    October 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Namejpd

    This guy has more position changes then the Kama Sutra!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Mary

    You learn more about a person in an unguarded moment rather than when they are performing for the cameras.

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. McOlans

    Here's truly what is in his heart!
    When Romney said he DOESN’TCARE about the 47% of the population, he practically concedes the election to Obama. Since Romney believes that 47% will vote for Obama, only 53% is up for grab. IF Romney gets 100% of the 53, he wins the election. BUT that is impossible!
    IF Obama gets a mere 10% (which is a very conservative estimate) of the 53, he will win with a 52.3 to 47.7 margin. So there is NO WAY Romney can win!

    The 2012 Election is reduced to:
    The 47% will dump RomneyDoesn’tCare. So Obama needs only 10% of the 53% to win.
    To reveal his 10-year ITRs.
    To explain how he will create 15 MILLION JOBS (now its only 12M). Where, when, what kind, etc.
    To explain how many more will benefit is he repeals ObanaCare.
    To explain why he favors the rich (like him) against the middle class.

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  7. GOP factually challenged

    This guy speaks from both sides of his mouth. Everytime he gets caught saying something that affends one group he has to back pedal or change his story. You don't see Obama having to recant his remarks, he is very consistent. This is why Romney can't be trusted.

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. NanH

    Glad you saw the light after 2 days but what happens if you are president and you need to make a crucial decision about the safety of the US and you wait 2 days and 47% of us are already dead?

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  9. Katie

    Out comes the etch-a-scetch!

    October 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Joy

    You think Romney told one lie. Wait until you know who Obama really is! His whole life has been a lie!! Good Luck, Folks. Germany here we come!!!!

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  11. SDG

    Flipflop Rompney at it again. Anyone who votes for this person deserves to be flopped on.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. J myer

    He is sorry that he got caught – that is what it boils down to. He didn't expect that speech to be taped and put on national TV and the Internet. It was a private event where he felt safe with his rich friends. Now that everyone has heard those statements and aren't very happy about it or Romney, he wants to backtrack and said it was a mistake. Yes, it was a mistake, that the public heard it and won't forget it either. He and his wife show how arrogant they are every time they appear in the public.

    October 5, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Guest

    At least he know SOMETHING about economics, jobs, health system, international policies. Not like Obama who without TelePrompTer looks like a first grade kid. What a fake president who needs always a whisperer to say something my 2 years old son doesn't know

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. MajeztyRene

    YAY ! So glad to see folks are seeing through Mitt's lies ! Though he did tell one BIG truth. He vowed to take care of the wealthy. To say that with 60 million people watching ? Now THAT'S bold !

    October 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. m

    hes saying he was wrong..on camera...off camera maybe different....seems like he'll say anything , just like most politicians .. he'd rather not help people and feed the hungry but instead increase unasked trillions in defense and feed the greed for over profiting 1% and pollutants

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I think you were too and I think you were clearly more dishonest than Obama in the debate as well so you should just concede.

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. barbarianofgor

    What a liar... Really, there's no better term for him...

    He'll say whatever he thinks is best at the time it helps him the best...

    But will he work FOR anyone with any consistency?

    Yep, Wall Street, the Rich Elite, and the Globalist Bankers....

    October 5, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Beach

    27 lies in 38 minutes – so people that are voting for Robme either like people that lie, or actually believe the lies.

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. NanH

    Glad you saw the light after 2 days but what happens if you are president and you need to make a crucial decision about the safety of the US and you wait 2 days and 47% of us are already not around anymore?

    October 5, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Brane

    I hope that you are not so stupid to fall on his lies?? Buy now media in US is not only CNN,FOX,ABC like ther was in George W. times,today you can find everything on google and YT. Hopefully you can see on your own what a liar this guy is. Well will see on 6. november.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Reasonably

    Sorry...no tag-backs. Game over and fail.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. AnAmericanWHocares

    I can't believe they are so stupid to bring this back up themselves

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. deb

    Anybody that can believe anything that this etch-a-sketch guy says needs to be psychologically examined. Romney is all over the page, a constant chameleon. If he thinks that his obvious pivot to the middle can negate all that he has said in the past, or things he SHOULD have said in the past (like his tax plan was always meant to be a "wash," not a tax cut, instead of saying that he would "cut" taxes) then he is sorely mistaken.

    October 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Pete

    Mitt will say or do anything to become president. He is a salesman who will tell each customer what he wants to here to close the sale.

    October 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Kathleen

    Too much, too little, and too late.

    October 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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