FISHERSVILLE, Va. – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is disavowing his controversial remarks dismissing the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes, saying in an interview Thursday night that the comments were just completely wrong.
My life has shown that I care about 100 percent, and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life, Romney told conservative commentator Sean Hannity on Fox News. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent.
At a fundraiser in May, Romney told wealthy donors that nearly half of Americans are government freeloaders who see themselves as victims, can’t be convinced to take personal responsibility for their lives and will support President Obama in the election no matter what.
My job is not to worry about those people – I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives, Romney said.
When a surreptitiously recorded video of the event surfaced last month, Romney refused to back away from the comments, although he conceded that they were not elegantly stated. But in battleground states, he saw his poll numbers slip as the Obama campaign used the remarks in its television ads to portray Romney as a heartless, out-of-touch plutocrat who doesn’t understand the struggles of everyday Americans.
Romney was prepared to try to explain his remarks during the first presidential debate Wednesday night, but he wasn’t asked about them. On Thursday, Hannity asked the candidate what he would have said about the comments during the debate, if he had been given the opportunity.
Well, 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 answered. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.
When I become president, it will be about helping the 100 percent, Romney continued. For me, this is all about the 100 percent. And, you know, the president can talk about the things he’d like to talk about – I’m going to talk about how I’m going to get America working again and help all the people of this country.
The video of Romney answering questions from donors at the May fundraiser was released in September by Mother Jones, a liberal magazine. It spawned several weeks of hand-wringing within the GOP, especially among the conservative commentariat, who speculated that the remarks may have been fatal to Romney’s candidacy.
In the video, Romney is recorded telling donors, There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.
Romney later said he had been speaking as a political pundit, analyzing the electorate and merely explaining that nearly half of the country’s voters were a solid lock for Obama.