US elections: My life and my campaign are for 100%, says Mitt Romney
At FIRST, he insisted his comments were merely “inelegantly stated”. Now White House hopeful Mitt Romney has admitted for the first time that his infamous 47 per cent remarks were “just completely wrong”.
The Republican candidate’s attack on those who paid no federal income tax, secretly recorded at a fundraising dinner in Florida earlier this year, was widely seen as having damaged his campaign for next month’s election.
However, after besting president Barack Obama in Wednesday night’s first head-to-head debate and giving his faltering campaign a boost, Mr Romney felt comfortable enough to address the gaffe in an interview with right-wing Fox News, telling host Sean Hannity that his words were a mistake. “My life has shown that I care about 100 per cent, and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 per cent,” Mr Romney said.
“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.”
The former Massachusetts governor has been asked what he would have said had Mr Obama addressed it during the debate, which was watched by more than 67 million television viewers. The president was criticised by his own supporters who saw his failure to bring it up as a missed opportunity.
Mr Romney added: “You know, the president can talk about the things he’d like to talk about. I’m going to talk about how I’m going to get America working again and help all the people of this country. When I become president it will be about the 100 per cent.”
However, David Plouffe, one of Mr Obama’s senior advisers, said it was too late for Mr Romney to be engaging in damage control exercises with the election less than five weeks away.
“First of all, on the 47 per cent, that’s an issue that just about 100 per cent the country knows about. It’s been chewed on over and appropriately so,” he said in a post-debate news conference at which he tried to convince reporters that it was a policy to avoid the issue.
“The reason it’s called Romney’s problem is because it wasn’t a gaffe. It was a revealing moment.”
Mr Obama, meanwhile, received some good news yesterday when it was announced that the unemployment rate in the US had dropped to a near four-year low.
The September rate of 7.8 per cent was the lowest since January 2009, the department of labour reported, a drop higher than expected and a significant lift for Mr Obama after Mr Romney’s debate attacks over the president’s handling of the economy.
More than 114,000 jobs were filled last month, while in July and August more than 86,000 jobs were created, higher than originally estimated.
Political analyst Chuck Todd said: “Do not underestimate the psychological impact of the unemployment rate falling below 8 per cent. It’s been an anchor around the president’s leg politically for years,. How many times have Republicans said, ‘He promised unemployment below 8 per cent?’ Well, voila.”
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