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. audrey rodano

    Of course he's going to say he is wrong at this stage of the game. I don't believe him.

    October 5, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  2. PigBodine

    Indeed, there will be many more opportunities for Mit to say he was completely wrong; he IS completely wrong, except about being completely wrong.

    October 5, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  3. blanco

    First! Romney 2012! 100%!!!!

    October 5, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  4. Anonymous

    "completely wrong" for saying it out loud...

    October 5, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  5. j

    there's quite a few mitt romneys running for office; who said we don't look beyond the 2 candidate/party system.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  6. Wayne Michael Reich

    "I'm sure this apology is completely genuine". said no one ever.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. 2EEs

    I'm a registered Independent voter. I believe Romney on this. Looking at his life he obviously wouldn't be running for president if he really believed the 47% comment in the context it was taken in the media. Looking at Obama's record I'm not surprised Romney's one comment from six months ago is still in the news.

    October 5, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  8. F uck Romdogg

    He's sorry that his comments got caught on tape.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  9. helix10461

    But he he has been defending that comment for last one month or so.

    October 5, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  10. Gerard

    Trivia question : What's Mitt Romney's favorite type of footwear?
    Answer : Flipflops.

    Didn't he come out a couple weeks ago saying he completely supported what he said about the 47%? And now in the last 4 weeks before the elections all of a sudden he changes his mind about it.
    Like his stance on immigration, on the night of the debate all of a sudden he changes to just mimic Obama's stance on immigration. And first he said he would repeal Obamacare in it's entirety, then a couple weeks later he changed his stance on that saying he would keep certain aspects.
    Now I wonder, how many of the things Romney has changed his stance on will he actually commit to if he does get elected. Does he even know what he really stands for and what he opposes? Because he sure did change his mind on a lot of things.

    October 5, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  11. Frank

    "Mitt Romney said he was "completely wrong" when he argued that nearly half of Americans were "victims" and dependent on government."

    What a lie.

    While licking their wounds after the elections, "wrongo" Willard Romney & his fellow Republican Todd Akin (with his absurd legitimate rape "mistake") will no doubt just shake their heads with their foot in mouth Howard Dean award.

    October 5, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  12. Israeli

    Didn't Romney stand fully behind the 47% comment when the video came out?

    Talk about a flip flopper.

    October 5, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  13. Mighty Mighty Mittens

    So two days ago he was completely right, but inelegant in stating it. Now he was completely wrgon? What will it be tomorrow?

    Same with his tax (non) plan. Same with his support for education - he is on record over and over again talking about how he would cut or eliminate federal support for public ed – but in the debate he said "nuh uh" and same with Obamacare - he can be talking to a reporter backstage at a campaign rally and lok that reporter in the eye and say he would keep it and how it is essentially the same as his plan was in Mass, then walk on stage and tell the audience - "the first thing I would do is repeal Obamacare!!!"

    And he is the kind of pathological liar who believes both those statements because they came from his mouth. My late aunt was like that. Whatever she said at whatever moment in time was the ultimate ruth for her. No matter how wrong she was, and no matter if she had said the opposite five minutes earlier. Pathological.

    October 5, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  14. Galoot

    If Romney truly supports the 100% now, he should show his compassion for the 100% and support Romneyccare / Obamacare for the 100% of Americans, not just Mass. citizens

    October 5, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  15. Larry G

    Romney could paint Death Valley as the Garden of Eden & I wouldn't buy it! Like a chameleon ever changing color to suit the situation. Same with his stance on all the issues. His double-down of the 47% worked with the Tea Partyers but not with the voters, so changing his stance once again to make the sale. I'd hire him for a salesman, but not as President of the United States of America. And no matter what anyone says, you can't change the fact that the Republicans were in the White House when the collapse of our economy occurred & the twin towers collapsed. Any economic & foreign policies are better than that.

    October 5, 2012 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  16. bob

    Even this doesn't match what he said in the debate, which is a sliding scale for health benefits. According to the debate, he wants to give more to the poor than the rich... romney as robin hood! haha. He's the epitome of the person that the real Robin Hood would have robbed in order to distribute his money to the actual poor. you know the ones, the same ones romney never would have had to apologize to if that video hadn't come to light. the video that was at a 50k per plate fundraiser. 50K! If he wanted to help the 100%, how about take that 50k and help some people out.

    October 5, 2012 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  17. datagencnn

    Well if he saying that he was wrong about the 47%. Then that means he was not truthful with the ones he was speaking to in the first place. I wonder how much money he received from that engagement. I also wonder of the ones who were there, would they continue to give to his efforts.

    October 5, 2012 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  18. Sirned

    Romney sat down with his graph and saw the 47% comment made the line of likability was down. So after careful deliberation of 17 days he decided to pretend to be human and tell Fox he was wrong.... Romney needs to go to Oz and get a heart. Then go to a shrink for his pathological lying....Geez this guy is scary

    October 5, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  19. mcbarker

    Here we go again... flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop, flip flop.

    October 5, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  20. sara

    Ok, people, go ahead and start ripping on Romney now. And about three comments into the thread, go ahead and start ripping on each other.

    October 5, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  21. dewey

    Oh so it took him a few days of standing by it, then a week, and a bump fro the debates riiiight.

    October 5, 2012 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  22. skytag

    He meant exactly what he said on the tape. It was a stupid thing to say, but he meant it. He's only retracting it because of the reaction it got. What a weasel.

    October 5, 2012 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  23. Notadolt

    Romney just regrets that his true beliefs, spoken among friends, were captured on tape. Michigan Republican governor Rick Snyder as candidate promised no new taxes. But once elected, his Republican legislature waged war on middle class, including new income taxes on pensioners on fixed incomes WHO HAD ALREADY RETIRED! Meanwhile, rich friends got new tax breaks and loopholes. Public Romney not the same as private Romney who will screw middle class...

    October 5, 2012 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  24. Howie76

    Little Late!

    October 5, 2012 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  25. Prathapan Gopalan

    Obama Barack ought to be President of the USA, again, full stop.

    October 5, 2012 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
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