Harrisonburg, Virginia - Mitt Romney said late on Thursday that his secretly-filmed remarks dismissing 47 percent of Americans as government dependents were “completely wrong.”
Fresh from a victory in the first presidential debate that seemed to get his campaign back on track after the earlier remarks derailed it, the Republican challenger addressed the controversy in an interview on Fox News.
“Clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you are going to say something (that) doesn't out come right,” he said.
“In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong. I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about the 100 percent.”
The video released last month by the liberal Mother Jones website showed Romney, in a closed-door meeting with wealthy donors, saying that 47 percent of Americans paid no income taxes, viewed themselves as victims and would vote for President Barack Obama in order to keep getting government handouts.
The remarks were widely criticised - even by Romney's fellow conservatives - and seemed to confirm the image the Obama campaign has sought to paint of an aspiring plutocrat who doesn't care about ordinary Americans.
In a hastily called press conference after the video came out Romney admitted the remarks were “not elegantly stated” but insisted he was merely discussing campaign strategy and not dismissing half the country.
Nationwide and battleground state polls shifted in Obama's favour in the days after the video came out, leading many pundits to speculate that it had torpedoed Romney's years-long quest for the White House.
But on Wednesday an energised Romney delivered a surprisingly strong performance in the first of three presidential debates opposite a listless Obama, injecting new momentum into his campaign ahead of the November 6 vote.
To the surprise of many of his supporters, Obama did not mention the “47 percent” remarks during the debate. - Sapa-AFP