Romney's 47 percent comment

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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney attended a private fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder on May 17, 2012. Although no press were allowed to attend, someone secretly filmed Romney's remarks and sent the video to Mother Jones magazine.[1] At first, the video did not attract much attention, but political commentators later focused on this passage of Romney's remarks:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.[2]

Mother Jones also posted a partial list of donors who attended the event.[3]


Romney was correct that 46.4 percent of American households paid no federal income tax in 2011. However, many of these households pay sales taxes, payroll taxes and property taxes. Also, combat troops do not pay taxes on their military pay. So, while some people who pay no federal income taxes are in demographic groups that tend to support Obama, other people who pay no taxes, including the military and the elderly tend to support Romney.[2][4] Many of the people who do not owe federal income taxes do not consider themselves as "victims."[5]

Democratic Response

The Obama Campaign placed an ad on television and on websites that played portions of the video with the text of Romney's words superimposed on the screen.[6] The Obama Campaign also made up a video with man-on-the-street interviews about Romney's remarks.[7]

David Plouffe said on ABC's "This Week" program that the comments send the message that Romney has "already written off half the country."[8]

The AFL-CIO sent a large mailing to union members in swing states focusing on Romney's remarks.[9]

President Obama did not reference Romney's remark during their first debate and waited until the closing statement of their second debate to raise the issue (at a point where Romney could not respond):

I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about: folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income.[10]

At an October 23, 2012, rally at Dayton Ohio, Vice President Biden said:

The American people know only one way forward -- only one way -- and that is forward. And together -- together, ladies and gentlemen, all of us -- even the 47 percent of us that Romney doesn't think matter -- (applause) -- we’re moving forward. (Applause.) Regardless.[11]

Singer Stevie Wonder made the comment an issue when he addressed an Ohio Obama rally during the last weekend of the campaign.[12]

Republican Response

ABC News asked Romney what he meant by "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility..." and Romney replied, "What I am talking about is a political process. I will never get 100% of the vote."[13] Romney then aired a new ad saying "President Obama and I both care about poor and middle class families."[13] Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan acknowledged that the "inarticulate" remark was a "misstep" on Fox News Sunday.[8]

Media converage

The Miami Herald made a point of noting that the 47 percent comment was not raised during the first presidential debate on October 3.[14] The point was also brought up by some other news sources.[15][16]


  1. Corn, David. SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Madison, Lucy. "Fact-checking Romney's "47 percent" comment", CBS News, September 18, 2012. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. 
  3. Gilson, Dave (Sep. 18, 2012). Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?. Mother Jones. Retrieved on October 1, 2012.
  4. Peters, Laura. "Forty-seven percent may side with Romney",, October 2, 2012. Retrieved on October 3, 2012. 
  5. "Mr. Romney’s ‘47 percent’ fantasy", Washington Post, September 18, 2012. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. 
  6. 47 percent: A look at the working Americans Mitt Romney is writing off. Retrieved on October 3, 2012.
  7. "Obama camp wastes no time highlighting Romney tapes",, September 18, 2012. Retrieved on October 3, 2012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Barkley, Tom. "Ryan Acknowledges 'Missteps' in Campaign", Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2012, p. A4. 
  9. Bogardus, Kevin. "AFL-CIO targeting Romney’s ‘47 percent’ remark in swing states", The Hill, October 1, 2012. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. 
  10. "Second Presidential Debate Full Transcript", October 17, 2012. 
  11. Retrieved November 5, 2012
  12. Moody, Chris. "Protesters removed from Obama rally after shouting during speech", Yahoo News, November 4, 2012. Retrieved on November 5, 2012. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Mitt Romney Responds to '47 Percent' Comment", ABC News, September 26, 2012. Retrieved on October 1, 2012. 
  14. Associated Press. "Immigration, '47 percent' absent in first debate", Miami Herald, October 3, 2012. Retrieved on October 3, 2012.