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. Jordan

    Mitt Romney has flip flopped on some statements, but I appreciate a person who admits when they were wrong. Too many past presidents have spent time, effort, and money justifying a position they knew to be incorrect.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  2. Snacklefish

    Of course he cares about the 100% – who wouldn't love to pay 0% in taxes?

    October 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  3. Enuff

    He already spoke the truth and got caught saying how he feels about the rest if us.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  4. Nathan K

    He's so fake.

    October 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  5. Hoosier53

    You're kidding – this is "breaking" news? Romney clarifyng a secrety recorded comment from months ago?

    October 5, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  6. Craig RB

    Oh Mittsy, you already said it and you can't take it back you deranged flip-flopper.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  7. cantsee

    Keep on pandering, it's okay.

    October 5, 2012 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  8. Sinator

    That's very nice that Mr. Romney now wants to help the 47% of Americans who are moochers and that it's not his job to care about. What a wonderful man.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  9. pimpson

    Good timing. Kill this non-issue when he's riding wave.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. My vote is cherished, and has to be earned!

    President Obama has consistently focussed on giving people a chance to obtain the American dream throughout his adult life. Is anbody else confused by Romney. I just can't trust what former Governor Romney says about anything. He is always switching. Just two weeks ago, he said he stood by those 47% comments and just didn't say it eloquently, now he says he was wrong, but he said in a very private dinner? Who is Romney, really? PEOPLE ARE WATCHING AND REMEMBER EVERY SHIFT ROMNEY MAKES. What exactly does former Governor Romney stand for and we, the people, do not want rhetoric? My vote is cherished and has to be earned.

    October 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  11. alien

    When did Romney ever care about the 100%, I guess as long as they don't get in the way of the profit margin eh?

    October 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  12. Chris

    So you're saying that a guy who will say ANYTHING to anyone to get elected is going to tell the people who don't want to vote for him that they SHOULD vote for him because he's changed his mind about them being leaches on the rest of America and he's suddenly decided he cares about them because he realizes he can't get elected with them?

    I, for one, am totally shocked.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  13. gdaym8

    Breaking News.................?

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. Nkechi

    Now obama can't even attack him with that. I'm just sorry for anyone who votes for this guy. Scheming schemer.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  15. laura a

    Wow!!!!! Why now I wonder?????

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  16. sharon

    sounds like a lot of garbage to me. He's a rich guy who has always been rich and has no idea what the average American's life is like as was evidenced in his "ask your parents to loan you the money for college". I don't have enough money to send my son to college right now and both my husband and I are college graduates with advanced degrees! He's out of touch and because he doesn't need government help right now he doesn't know what the average person has been through in this recession–especially if you're over 50 and looking for a job. It's just back pedaling probably said because his campaign advisors have told him to do so--but we know what he really thinks!

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  17. Erik

    This guy is a paper leader.

    If his new customers had wanted "no apologies!" he'd be tripling down on his stupid comment (he already defended it once).

    Panderer extraordinaire.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  18. Don

    Payroll DEDUCTIONS for things other than federal income tax are MUCH different than an actual tax. When someone gets money back and pays very little in, that is a freebie. I would like to see the IRS abolished and a national sales tax imposed. It would raise a lot more money than income tax and nobody could escape it. You would pay at the register. When you claim to be "poor" but buy a cell phone with a data package, cigarettes, alcohol, large televisions, etc...You will be paying a federal tax. Don't worry class warfare trolls. The people with more money SPEND more money so they will pay thier fare share. That is all. Carry on.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  19. hikertom

    The flip-flopper flip flops again.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  20. Kuta

    "I'm for the 100%"

    Until a nanosecond after the election when go back to screwing over the middle class and poor.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  21. Don

    How come he isn't held to the same Flip-Flop criticism that Kerry was? This is just a 1 in a string of them....seems a bit hypocritical.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  22. Chuck

    Romney seems to have a hard time telling the difference between "50%" and "1%".

    First the middle-class, now this.

    October 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  23. Mary B

    Romney you said exactly what you feel in your heart. Man Up! STOP acting like a puppet. You could care less about the Middle Class. Romney you care about the rich only. PRESIDENT OBAMA will win in 2012.

    October 5, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  24. yeah, right

    sounds like he is 100% full of crap

    October 5, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. runner305

    Sorry, but we're not buyin' it. The truth is: you DID mean what you said about the 47%. You were well within your comfort zone, talking to a room of some of your wealthiest supporters. Your "admission" at this time is just a feeble attempt to gain some new votes, and reclaim some that you lost with your big mouth.

    October 5, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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