Was Romney Right About the 47 Percent or Will This Doom His Campaign?

Mother Jones released a video of Mitt Romney telling a private audience that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on the government and will never vote for him. Was this a ruinous gaffe, or has Romney told a hard political truth?

A secret video obtained by Mother Jones magazine has rocked the political world. In that video, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims, are dependent on the government and will never vote for him. He went further, saying he wasn't worried about them. The magazine released a portion of the video Monday.

In a late night press conference Monday, Romney said the comments were not "elegantly stated," but were part of a larger conversation about the role of personal responsibility. Romney went on to say the comments were a reflection on "the political process of winning an election, and, of course, I want to help all Americans — all Americans — have a bright and prosperous future."

Mother Jones later released the full video.

Do you think the video shows Romney's true feelings about half of the American electorate, or was this an out-of-context snippet? Will this hurt Romney's chances of winning the election, or is it one blip in a very long campaign? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

(Editor's note: This question came from Jamaica Plain NY Patch.)

Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Wow. Calling anybody on the right a liar when you have the king of liars in the White House currently is actually kind of funny... Romney was right about the numbers, just not the source of the numbers. Roughly 47% will not vote for him no matter what. These are those that feel like victims, or feel like everybody else is. That feel like people stand no chance in this country without the government to back them up. Those that feel like government is the answer. OR...those that will vote for Obama purely because he's black. Those groups make up about 47%, and Romney's right - there's no reason to worry about them, they won't help him. This is different than not being worried about them, and why they feel the way they do, but he's not getting their vote.....
Becky September 20, 2012 at 05:15 PM
@Larry Reid: "Brian, at what point do you personally consider one to be impoverished enough to receive benefits? And please also tell me why anyone REQUIRING payments from fellow Americans would spend that money on sodas as opposed to maybe stocking up on shampoo and soap and absolute necessity items?" Are you for real? Have you never been to a grocery store and seen someone pull out a stack of welfare vouchers or a welfare debit card to pay for their groceries and you look over what they are about to purchase and see all kinds of crap food and no necessities? I see it every time I am in the grocery store. Granted this is not every person on food stamps but you can't be naive enough to believe they wouldn't buy soda on someone else's dime. Just because you don't buy soda, doesn't mean the rest of America doesn't and that certainly doesn't mean those on welfare don't. And quite honestly I get so disgusted seeing that. My husband and I both work hard for our money and we can't afford to buy half of the stuff I see these welfare recipients buying. All the while carrying their iPhones, Coach handbags and wearing $100 Nike shoes, etc. Welfare was designed as a "helping hand" not as a long term lifestyle but there are people who believe government owes them everything all the time. Sadly, those who do fall on hard times due to a job loss and need that helping hand are lumped in with those who live on welfare for life and give welfare a bad name.
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 05:17 PM
And while we're discussing it, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, none of them have any business making decisions for ANY Americans, much less the majority. It's decisions out of their camp that have put us in the positions we're in, with the income gap and huge numbers of people on the government dole. If you have policies that foster dependence, guess what you're going to get. If you force banks to give risky loans, guess what's going to happen eventually. Especially when you have policies that promote no sense of responsibility...
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 05:19 PM
47% right number, but he was wrong.... Not all 47% that don't pay federal income taxes are moochers or feel like victims. But pretty much all 47% that will vote Obama are.... Details, details....
Larry Reid September 20, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Apparently Ryan has too
Larry Reid September 20, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Becky, I may not see the things you have. I never said that people on welfare are living larger than life. My point is that if I were to need government assistance, I think I would try to use it in an appreciative fashion and hope to cut it off as soon as possible. I have no issue with people needing help. I, as many others, have helped needy people all my life. I feel that my help may accepted with appreciation and responsibility more than some do with help from government welfare programs.
Ryan Smith (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Karsten, The full quote is this: "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He was clearly and explicitly saying that business owners benefited from the infrastructure provided by government programs. The quote that showed up at the RNC and in the Romney campaign was: "If you've got a business—you didn't build that." It made it appear that he was saying business owners did not build their own businesses, which he clearly wasn't. By definition, the quote was taken out of context. It's not as if the left isn't guilty of some low-blow electioneering -- the "Romney killed my wife" ad comes to mind -- but whatever your political persuasion, it is simply a fact that Obama's remarks were stripped of context for political purposes. It happens on both the right and the left, and either way it's a dirty trick.
Ryan Smith (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Karsten, Although your "government, while necessary, didn't build itself" statement is also very true. Very good point.
Brian Crawford September 20, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Wow Becky your compassion is overwhelming. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the person with the expensive shoes and iphone may have lost a good paying job through no fault of their own and have no choice but to use food stamps to feed their family. They're probably pretty humiliated by the whole thing. Wouldn't you be? Maybe you'll get to find that out first hand some day. Until then, stay classy.
Chris September 20, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Good job Brian proving the point here. You libs believe that just because someone loses their job, they have every right to continue the iPhone cell service and maintain an above average lifestyle while hard working Americans pay for their groceries. I don't own a iPhone. I don't wear fancy clothes. I've been laid off and lived off of my OWN savings to provide for myself. Sure if someone needs assistance, that's fine but I think they may want to downgrade their lifestyle before asking me to feed them. Obama and counting...
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Ryan - point taken. Out of context quotes are dirty, and those that use them are beneath honor. However...I still don't really see the distinction in this quote. In reality, I understand what he was saying. But it was a way to push the agenda of those with the most need to pony up, since they're not paying their fair share, which they actually are. I also don't agree with the sentiment in general. Business owners, at least those that aren't being coddled by the government with bailouts and such, did build their businesses. They learned things along the way to help them get it right, but essentially people did what they are designed to do. You can look at this the other way and say "You didn't build anything and get rich? With all this help that's out there? How much do you suck?" I don't, however, hear anybody saying that.....
Becky September 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Oh please, I have plenty of compassion. I just call it like I see it. People I know who use food stamps during times of need (and I have, unfortunately, known a lot of them in my lifetime) are the ones that are buying the necessities and not the $20 steaks or brand name of everything. Those truly in need buy store brand mac and cheese, bologna, eggs, milk, etc. to just get by for the week. It's the ones that milk the system and LIVE off the system that I am talking about. I have 3 very close friends that have had to take food stamps just this summer and believe me, they are not squandering it. Sure they may carry their Coach purses and iPhones to the store but they also know how to stretch their food stamp dollars too. Talk about classy....right back attcha Brian. Nice comment.
Brian Crawford September 20, 2012 at 07:20 PM
You want people to hock their shoes?
Brian Crawford September 20, 2012 at 07:26 PM
This whole idea of the modern welfare queen is a myth. They used to exist but that ended with welfare reform in '96. There may be a few who are committing welfare fraud who manage to live high on the hog, but most states do a pretty good job of rooting those folks out and prosecuting them.
C.J. September 20, 2012 at 07:29 PM
RE: "I've been laid off and lived off of my OWN savings to provide for myself." Chris, Are telling us that you were eligible to collect unemployment, but did not apply?
Becky September 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Unemployment and food stamps are two different things. Employers pay an unemployment tax to the government to help employees should they ever have to lay them off. However, this too comes back to the personal responsibility topic. Chris took the responsibility to ensure that should something happen with his job he would have enough to survive. What a novel approach to life. Kudos to him.
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Yes, if they're Manolos or Guccis, then hock away. If there's more than one pair, then feel free to hock as well. People need to do what they can streamline their lives before they start taking money from my pocket. I pay my own bills, so if I want cable TV with all the frills, then I get cable TV with all the frills. However, I get laid off or disabled and can't pay my bills, I will cut my cable and sell off my TVs before I expect you to give me anything....
Becky September 20, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Amen to that Karsten!
C.J. September 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Chris, You specifically wrote that you lived off your "OWN savings." The unemployment checks that you collected didn't come out of your savings. Incidentally, Georgia borrowed millions from the federal government to pay unemployment because the state’s unemployment trust went into a deep deficit. So, it turns out that federal taxpayers picked up the tab for Georgia's unemployed. Lucky for you that we didn't successfully secede from the union.
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Brian, go spend some time at the grocery store and spend some time at the registers and watch people. Or go befriend somebody that works at one and talk to them. You'll find out real quick that you're wrong. EBT cards can't be used to buy alcohol or some other things, but you can buy a lot of approved things and return them for cash, since they can't refund money onto the card. And this happens more than you would think. Along with people buying crab and steak and prepared meals, rather then trying to stretch their dollars....
Karsten Torch September 20, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Oh, and ask how many of those EBT cards are pulled out of Coach or Dooney purses...
john speight September 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Doctors getting out of medicine because of Obamacare? To do what? Wait tables? Program computers? Manage Subways? They are now doing what they chose to do. They, like to rest of us, just don't like taking pay cuts! BTW: Numerous studies - see Google - show that paying more for health care does not guarantee better care; just a light wallet.
Tammy Osier September 21, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Karsten, whatyou speak of is some thing called being "responsible' for oneself. If anyone (namely people on here who live in a utopian world) spent as much time with social services as I and others have, they'd know. They don't get prosecuted. They scam the system and brag about it (because they get away with it). I know the parents, and have sadly watched the children grow into young adults who follow the same patterns. Good news is, I've seen many a young person say, "Not me" I'm going to make something of myself. that's where programs that I've worked in help. Can't save them all, but can save some. And yes, hock those shoes. We were poor when my kids were young. We sold many a thing to help pay bills.
Tammy Osier September 21, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Becky said: Sadly, those who do fall on hard times due to a job loss and need that helping hand are lumped in with those who live on welfare for life and give welfare a bad name. I think that's it Becky. Unfortunately, there are many that you've addressed here that absolutely cannot dig their heads out of the sand, refusing to believe that there are people that exist to use others. They exist. I see them everyday in the jails. Repeat offenders who refuse to change no matter how kind people are to them; no matter how much compassion and help they receive, they have made up their minds how they want to be.They exist. I have spoken to them as they laugh and tell me they want to be the way they are. I love them anyway, but move on to those who want my help. Recognizing a problem and hoping to fix it has nothing to do with compassion. It's compassionate to work towards a day where we can help those folks (who are willing) get on their feet and be productive. Seems that would be a BOOSt to their self esteem rather than the lack of it that is caused by being a user. Seems those who want to keep people dependent are the onnes that don't care for people. Good post.
C.J. September 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM
RE: "...both sides have compared each other to Nazis. Does that mean that we have two sides of the same coin?" Hi Crystal, For the record, I haven't compared anybody to a Nazi or a fascist. Nobody who does that speaks for me. So, I would appreciate it if you would avoid projecting some other person's ridiculous comments onto me?
Crystal Huskey (Editor) September 21, 2012 at 04:24 PM
@C.J. - Not directed at you.
Kathy September 21, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Take my head out of what sand Russ? From what I can see the sand you are speaking of certainly doesn't support the Republicans. The Republicans have done very little to help kick start the economy over these past four years. I find the Republicans as much at fault for the situation we all find ourselves in. At every turn their efforts have been focused on keeping this Presidency to one term which has hurt everyone. No one is a winner in this debacle.
deborah smith September 24, 2012 at 06:53 AM
What some of you fail to realize is that a lot of the 47% have worked hard all of there lives and paid taxes and into social security to be able to draw a check when they retire or if they happened to get hurt on there job. Now that Romney and some his fat cat friends have taken welfare from the government and our retirement investments to line their pockets, there many people who were well off needing that same , medicade , foodstamps and gov. assitance because they have lost their jobs and investments. I guess its welfare if its us 47% and a ballout if its the 1%?
Middleman October 06, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Back in the mid-late 80's we had an extended harsh winter. My dad was a concrete mason. Our family of 5 ran out of money and food. Dad tried to get government help but was denied because he had assets (his tools for work). They wanted him to get rid of the very thing that would keep him working and become permanently dependent on the government. He didn't want to be dependent on the government. He just wanted to feed his family and get through the winter. We didn't starve. Nothing short of a miracle how neighbors randomly dropped off bags of groceries. My dad still works for himself and works hard. He's over 60. I will never forget that. And I will always take pride in earning money.
Tammy Osier October 06, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Middleman, what a story! My son, who is a single parent, before he got on his feet, tried to get some help. He couldn't because he made a few dollars more than is required for government assistance. Had he quit his meager paying job, and stayed home to receive welfare, he could have gotten it. My fear concerning our system, is that it fosters and encourages people to do just that. We definately need an overhaul when it encourages people to manipulate the system. But for the record and in keeping with the subject, I think Romney should have simply referred to those who are going to vote for him anyway and not used a number. Just because people are in the 47%, doesn't mean that they are deliberately dependent on the government. I think he has walked that back since he said it.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »