Romney rows back on '47%' comment
on 05/10/2012 14:13:07
His admission came hours before a closely watched US jobs report promised to have the last word in a startling week for both presidential campaigns.
The US government was issuing new unemployment data on Friday morning that was likely to confirm that the country's economic recovery - the top issue for voters - remains slow.
The final monthly jobs report before the election will come just days before November 6.
Mr Romney's campaign had been hit hard by the secretly taped remarks that emerged last month, in which he said he could not convince nearly half the country to "take personal responsibility" for their lives.
He slipped behind president Barack Obama in some of the key battleground states that will decide the election as people again worried that the multimillionaire was out of touch with average Americans.
But Mr Romney gave an assertive performance in his first debate with a tired-seeming Mr Obama on Wednesday night, rallying Republicans again to his side.
Mr Obama notably did not mention Mr Romney's "47%" comment during the debate, but Mr Romney brought it up in a Fox News interview last night, after a day of rallying conservative activists with his vision of his own inauguration.
He told Fox that the remarks, which he had once dismissed as "not elegantly stated", were wrong.
"Well, 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," Mr Romney said. "In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong."
He added: "And I absolutely believe, however, that my life has shown that I care about 100% and that's been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100%."
Widespread anger over Mr Romney's remarks had helped to give Mr Obama a bit of a lift in key polls, and many wondered why the president did not use them to fight back in Wednesday's debate, which most people agreed the newly energised Mr Romney won.
Mr Obama's campaign yesterday promised "adjustments" would be made before the two debates that remain.
Mr Obama woke up during campaign appearances yesterday to make a rebuttal, accusing Mr Romney of being dishonest about how his policies would affect the tax bills of middle-class families.
Both campaigns faced another potential turning point with the release of Friday's government report on unemployment for September. The jobless rate is expected to inch up from 8.1%.
Mr Romney is likely to use the report to cast Mr Obama as ineffective in job creation.
Last month's weak hiring numbers came out just a day after Mr Obama delivered his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Yet they did not appear to interfere with Mr Obama's post-convention bounce in public opinion polls or with perceptions that he would be as good as Mr Romney at creating jobs.
The unemployment rate has been fluctuating between 8.1% and 8.3% since January after being stuck at between 8.9% and 9.1% for 10 months in 2011.
No president has been re-elected with unemployment above 8% since the Great Depression. But analysts and Obama advisers maintain that the rate is less important than the trajectory, and Obama aides are quick to note that the past recession drove unemployment up to 10% in 2009 before beginning to drop.
"I think that there's a broad recognition of where we are," Obama campaign senior political adviser David Axelrod said.
"So unless they're startlingly different, I don't think that this particular jobs report is going to be determinative. That's been the pattern. People understand we're in a long-term project here and we have to keep moving forward."
A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that the vast majority of voters have already settled on a candidate, but 17% of likely voters are considered persuadable - either because they are undecided or show soft support for Mr Obama or Mr Romney.
Their next debate is on October 16.
Mr Obama and Mr Romney both planned events in Virginia on Friday, reflecting the hotly contested race for the state's 13 electoral votes.
The election is decided in state-by-state contests and not by nationwide popular vote.