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. Project

    Why in God's name should payroll taxes be counted? Do liberals count them when they're claiming that they rich are under-taxed? Very fuzzy math, to be sure.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  2. bmull

    I see nothing wrong with what Romney said the first time. The bottom half of the country are victims of the top 1% and should expect their government to try to protect them. I saw what happened in 2007 when Wall Street tanked. The well-off fired workers and expected everyone else to work harder to reimburse them for their investment losses. If that's not victimization I don't know what is.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. Chris

    How many times can this guy change his mind??!! I've looked for a reason to vote for Romney, but the problem I keep running into is that I simply don't know for what I'd be voting. I'd be more likely to vote for someone I'd don't 100% agree with, but stands firm on their values. This guy has so clearly been pandering throughout his entire campaign, that I haven't the foggiest notion what he'd actually do in office. I have zero trust in anything he says anymore.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  4. Johnny

    Takes the Mittens how long to admit a mistake? Suddenly he cares about the poor...what a lying jerk!!

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  5. fekt

    way to take a debate victory and try to turn it into a chance to etch a sketch your 47% commments that you completely stood by when they came out. I suppose he was hoping to take the opportunity of the debates and a slitght uptick in the polls to appear more human. sadly he just appeared to flip flop again and change the conversation away from the debates to his asinine comments from the video. Way to go MITTENS. We thank you for your help in changing the conversation back to your weakness again.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  6. Kahless

    Someone should do an ad showing clips of Romney in the debate when he flip-flops, then cut to an etch-a-sketch being shaken.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  7. PDOC

    Here we go again!!! Romney is so fake he makes my stomach hurt. He will say and do anything to win this Presidency...I will never trust him! He's trying to clear up his 47% comment now? He would of said that when he was confronted about it originally. If he is elected President I would respect the wishes of the American people but I warn, brace yourself because the middle class will suffer and the military will be going to war Against Iran and maybe even Syria.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  8. MK

    Words are like bullets once you say something there is no way to take it back.. sorry Mitt, damage is already done. Seems like you are back peddling a lot these days.

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  9. pflatman

    Wow, can this weather-vane be any more FOS?

    October 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  10. Flip FlopNey

    And yet another Flip Flop, this guy is worse than a frog with a high dose of caffeine.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. Sal Garcia

    Mitt was pandering to High Income Donors when he made those statements in the first place. Now he is pandering to the independants and moderate Republicans but stating he's for the middle class. There are many intances where he will change his message depending on who his audiance is. As one of his advisors once said he can be like an Etch-A Sketch. He will continue to pander and make promises until he gets elected, it's just a means to an end.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Askmehow

    So Romney is 53% correct. That gets you an F for failure.
    The candidates haven't mentioned the forbidden words: The Middle Class of America. As if only the middle and Upper class works hard and pays taxes. Without the lower class the higher class wouldn't know how to wipe their own mess.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  13. Greg

    I can't believe that Mitt is this stupid....No matter what he says now the "47%" as he calls us will never vote for the bigot.

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  14. Art Gregoire

    I will continue to share and write as many Anti Romney posts I can till this election is over. I'm taking off the Gloves and Game is on Mitt Witt. I want to keep your lying ass out of our Whitehouse. Go back to the Cayman Islands where you and your money belong. You wouldn't know the truth if it was inserted up your

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  15. Alex V

    "I was completely wrong" Finally something I can agree with Mitt Romney on!

    October 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Franky

    Flip-Flopper of the year award!!!!

    This dude is slicker than ice on a cold winters night. I'll say anything to be president Mittens.

    Will the real Mitt Romney , please stand up, please stand up?

    October 5, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  17. Kris

    Sorry Mitt, you cannot just push this one away. It would've been one thing if it had been one sentence in a topic about something completely different. But you rambled on and on about this, insulting many people who work hard to not have to depend on government assistance.

    October 5, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  18. Marley

    Yet, another FLIP-FLOP!!!

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

    He will admit it yes, but it doesn't mean that he still doesn't think it is 100% true... flip flop...

    October 5, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  20. raggedyart

    There, there, ...all better now! So you can vote for me now, and I promise I'm not an Etch-a-Sketch. After all, I defended my comments before I was against them.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  21. Craig

    Amusing to seet he liberal media strive to come up with stories to take away from Obama's dismal debate performance.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. jdg

    Truth be told we were or are in a recession and why wouldn't we have more people receive govt assistance. This is the aftermath of a ten year war about weapons of mass destruction tht was never found and used 911 tragedy to propel the us into war in Iraq and the perpetrators responsible for 911 were camped out in afghanastan. The heavy cost of the war was just a part of it along with the banks and their underhanded practices. The president has done in house spending to.help keep people a float until the economy gets better.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  23. pockets

    Romney will say anything to anyone to look good. I think the man is evil. I mean it, he's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Bloomers and all. Flip flopping away.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  24. MashaSobaka

    Of course he's taking it back. The most welfare-dependent states are red states and many of the people who pay no income tax are the elderly. He can't afford to keep offending his biggest supporters now that US citizens' inability to read a graph and understand basic mathematics has put him back in the game.

    October 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  25. Ardon Williams

    Of he would com forward now and say he was completely wrong after this debate. He is only saying this now because he is on a high from a fairly good debate. So of course let me come out and say this now while I'm on a quick high with the people and maybe they will give me a pass on what I said prior. That is exactly what Obama was speaking about in the debate the other day that for so many months Romney was saying one thing and now he is saying different things. "Politics as usual"

    October 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
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