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. flip flop fizz fizz

    Wow, there is a surprise! Mitt Romney changes his position. Extra Extra read all about it. Oh wait, he always changes his mind once he gets closer to elections. Now he loves 100% of the people and he will provide health care to everybody and he will not reduce taxs on the wealthy. Omg, when will conservatives wake up to this liar?

    October 5, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  2. caesarbc

    That's not the only thing Romney was wrong about...

    If you want the Clinton years again... vote Obama...

    if you want deregulation and no EPA (i.e. Regan years)... vote Romney.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Reason & Logic

    This is the type of guy who wants to be president. What else will he misspeak about? I hope it's nothing that would endanger our troops. If Romney is not misspeaking, then he lies. You can't trust anything he says.

    October 5, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  4. RAR

    NOW he wanna take back what he said?!?!?!?!?! Dude, the damage's already been done!! And besides, what you had said was behind closed doors and what's done and said in the dark ALWAYS come to light!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  5. Dave

    I'll admit. I'm one of the elusive undecided voters that Romney is trying to win over. One thing that I really like about Mitt's tone lately is that he's not attacking Obama's character. I think it's important to show some respect and not attack a president's character. Instead, he says stuff like "we have a very different approach", and "we just happen to disagree on this". You can still be respectful, and disagree. Keep it up, and if you do win, Mitt, you just might bring a different tone to Washington.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. steve

    I just misspoke. I did not really mean it. Another lie?

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  7. Mr. Bigglesworth

    100% of who? The 55% of the country (on average) who actually vote? 100% of the 1%? 100% of the people who do actually vote for you? Or 100% of all citizens who call this land their home?

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. george

    I don't believe him! Mitt Romney lied shamelessly during the debate. He changed his tax cut pledged right at the moment. He sounded more like school bully than a presidential candidate. I miss GWB already! He had more class! Romney threw his own family under the bus by accusing his sons as chronic liars who repeat their lies till they believe it! Such a man a word he says!

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  9. melanie

    I'm starting to get whiplash from all the flip flopping this guy does. who can take this man seriously for the white house when he is a compulsive liar?

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. SafeJourney

    Another etch a sketch momnet for Mitt. Wiil Mitts lying ever end . Mitt can not be trusted

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  11. comm0nsense

    the Etch-a-Sketch master has finally been revealed.

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. Thank you!

    Now I can sleep at night

    October 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  13. Agent Provocateur

    Gays in the military might be better off since Barrack Obama became president. For the rest of us, though, Obama has turned out to be a mediocre president. Where is the CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN that he promised 4 years ago?

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  14. cola

    It is never wrong to say what you believe, and Romney spoke exactly what he has always believed. It is best that we know the truth about our candidates, and if we place Romney in office after a comment like that, then he is not the one with the problem...WE are the ones with the problem.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  15. Greg

    Surprise, Surprise...The suit was wrong?...LMAO

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  16. Thugvon

    What else is new? Playing both sides as usual and flip flopping.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  17. Pappy Du Plenty

    Yay for damage control. Too little, too late. Another flip flop.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  18. gingersue

    Does he believe it was wrong that he said it, or just wrong that he said it in in front of witnesses?

    If his comment was genuine, he wouldn't have waited this long to share it. Besides, that wasn't the first time he said something like that.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  19. southernwonder

    romney is an ongoing fiction.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  20. AmericanWaxwing

    Romney's policies will help the poor and middle-class; Obama's will have not and will not.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  21. Dorkus Maximus

    Oh, okay. Never mind then. It's just that he went into such detail about how the 47% see themselves as victims, are dependent upon government for health care, for food, for what have you.... It's just that he seemed so sincere and so certain of what he was saying that I thought for sure he meant it.

    I guess next he'll apologize? Nah!.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  22. Prariedoc

    This man has (and will) say anything that he thinks will give him support and/or votes. How can anyone believe anything he says when he flagrantly lied on the first debate about the $5 trillion in tax breaks. This candidate is an outright liar. One of his former opponents in the primary called it right; Romney is the best lubricated weather vane in the party.

    October 5, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  23. Deborah

    Sure he'd say that. He already got their money....

    October 5, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  24. John Tucker

    Google "Lying for the Lord" – it will answer all your questions.

    October 5, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  25. Bun

    Etch-a-sketch strikes again......

    October 5, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
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