Mitt Romney wants you to know that he was "completely wrong" to dismiss nearly one-half the population as victims who are "dependent on government" that he doesn't care about; he's really for the 100% now.
Romney, in those secretly videotaped remarks, was referring to the 47 percent of people who don't pay federal income tax.
The Republican presidential nominee on Fox News with Sean Hannity Thursday night put it this way:
“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. In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong. And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent.”
And the question from Fox News that prompted Romney's apology was this: what would you have said if President Barack Obama mentioned the “47 per cent” comment in the debate?
"A-hah! So this is why Barack Obama didn’t bring up L’Affaire Mère Jones on Wednesday evening! (Well done, New York Magazine and certain Timesmen on Twitter, who guessed this might have been the reason.)" Vanity Fair said Friday.
Reuters reported that Obama has been second-guessed by some of his supporters for not bringing up the 47 percent video at the Denver debate.
Screenshot via YouTube
President Obama looks over at Mitt Romney during the first debate.
The video was widely circulated after it was posted online on September 17 by the magazine Mother Jones, though it had been on the Internet for weeks. It showed Romney speaking at a May 17 private fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla.
“There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney said in the video. “There are 47 per cent 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.”
“Forty-seven per cent of Americans pay no income tax,” Romney added, and that his role “is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
The remarks sparked intense criticism and emerged as a major stumbling block in his campaign against Democratic President Barack Obama.
The Globe and Mail reported that critics of Romney’s “47 per cent” remarks said that many of those who don’t pay federal incomes taxes pay other forms of taxes. More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reports. Millions of others don’t pay federal income taxes because they don’t earn enough after deductions and exemptions.
Conservatives stand by their man
Initially, Romney later told reporters at a news conference that his comments had been "not elegantly stated" but that he stood by them:
“It’s not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I’m sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that.”
But he continued: "It's a message which I am going to carry and continue to carry, which is that the president's approach is attractive to people who are not paying taxes because frankly my discussion about lowering taxes isn't as attractive to them. Therefore I'm not likely to draw them into my campaign as effectively as those in the middle."
Some conservatives rallied around Romney after the video surfaced, urging him to stand behind the remarks as accurate despite the criticism.
So he doubled down in another interview saying that his views helped define the philosophical choice for voters in his campaign against President Obama.
“The president’s view is one of a larger government; I disagree,” Romney said in an interview on Fox News. “I think a society based on a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that’s the wrong course for America.”
Is Romney too late?
Obama's campaign has accused Romney of switching positions and not telling the truth. The Globe and Mail reported that when asked recently whether his TV ads had strayed from the facts, he said they had been “absolutely spot-on.” Fact-checking operations have argued otherwise.
Now according to Politico, top Obama aide David Plouffe not only said that he didn't buy Mitt Romney's disavowal of his 47 percent remarks, he made it clear that the American people shouldn't either.
"The most important thing is his policies reflect that approach and that disdain because his entire economic philosophy is geared towards the very wealthy and burdening the middle class. It’s the wrong recipe for economic growth," Plouffe told reporters at the White House.
"I would take with a huge grain of salt trying to clean something up five months after you said it for the first time and after you doubled down on it the day after you said it."
Slate reports that this reversal comes on the heels of another Romney reversal seen in the first debate, during which he reversed himself and struck a quasi-populist note by arguing that he won't cut taxes for the rich and would slash taxes for small businesses and suggested that he would protect and preserve Medicare better than President Obama.