How Romney Came to Admit '47 Percent' Was 'Completely Wrong'

It took him long enough, but Romney finally admitted his 47 percent speech was 'completely wrong' during an interview with Fox News tonight. 

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It took him long enough, but Romney finally admitted his 47 percent speech was 'completely wrong' during an interview with Fox News tonight.

Sean Hannity asked how Romney would have defended himself if Obama did bring up the 47 percent comments during last night's debate, and "I said something completely wrong," was the zinger we were denied hearing last night:

'Completely wrong' isn't how he framed it when the video first came out.

In the first press conference he called after the video came out, Romney said his comments were "not elegantly stated," and that he was speaking "off the cuff," but he ultimately stood by his message:

“I recognize that among those that pay no tax…I’m not likely to be highly successful with the message of lowering taxes,” Mr. Romney said Monday evening. “That’s not as attractive to those who don’t pay income taxes as it is to those who do.  And likewise those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government.”

The next night he was interviewed on Fox News by Neil Cavuto where he basically chalked the whole thing up to election strategy:

"I'm talking about a perspective of individuals who I'm not likely to get to support me. I recognize that those people who are not paying income tax are going to say, 'Gosh, this provision that Mitt keeps talking about lowering income taxes,' that's not going to be really attractive to them. And those that are dependent upon government, and those that think government's job is to redistribute, I'm not gonna get them."

His defense was switched up again when he was interviewed on Univision, still within days of the tape coming out, when he realized he needed to stop shutting so many people off and start talking about how his campaign is about the '100 percent':

"First of all, this is a campaign about the 100 percent," Romney told him. "Over the last several years you’ve seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. We had hoped to come back together.  But instead you’ve seen us pull apart.  And politics has driven us apart in some respects. So my campaign is about the 100 percent of America. And I’m concerned about them."

On the very same day, Paul Ryan admitted his running mate probably could have chosen words a bit better, but ultimately stood by his statements and tried to spin the 47 percent speech into an attack on Obama's policies more than anything else:

“He was obviously inarticulate in making this point, and the point we’re trying to make here is, under the Obama economy, government dependency is up and economic stagnation is up, and what we’re trying to achieve is getting people off of government dependency and back to a job that pays well that gets them on the path of prosperity,” Ryan tolkd KNRV, the NBC affiliate in Reno, Nev.

In his first direct-to-camera ad after the video came out, Romney defended his comments without disavowing them either. He went for empathy at a time his campaign was still desperately trying to humanize him. "We should measure compassion by how many people are able to get off welfare and get a good paying job," he argued.

More recently, the tone within the Romney campaign shifted on the '47 percent' tape. Paul Ryan admitted the tape was a "misstep" during his September 30th appearance on Fox News Sunday:

Romney “acknowledges himself that was an inarticulate way of describing how we’re worried that in a stagnant Obama economy more people have become dependent on government because they have no economic opportunity,” Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.