Mitt Romney backtracks on the '47 percent': Is he in the clear?

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Mitt Romney tries to wipe the slate clean by admitting in an interview with Sean Hannity that his 47 percent insult was "just completely wrong."
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Mitt Romney tries to wipe the slate clean by admitting in an interview with Sean Hannity that his 47 percent insult was "just completely wrong."

The GOP nominee finally concedes that he was "just completely wrong" to write off half the country as lazy moochers

In the days after Mitt Romney's secretly taped remarks disparaging the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes were first leaked, the Republican nominee insisted that his comments simply were "not elegantly stated." But on Thursday night, he told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the remarks, which he made to wealthy donors at a May fundraiser, were "just completely wrong." (Watch the video here.) The Obama campaign has had a field day using the "47 percent" line to portray Romney an arrogant, out-of-touch millionaire who doesn't care about average Americans. Will voters give Romney a break now?

Good move, good timing: Romney had to walk back his 47 percent insult, which qualified as "a serious gaffe," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. And it was pretty shrewd of Romney to offer this mea culpa while he's basking in the success of Wednesday's debate win. This "lances a boil that might have been a problem in future debates, while removing a potent attack line for his opponent."
"Romney's mea culpa on his '47 percent' remark"

SEE MORE: Romney pivots to foreign policy ahead of debates

The 47 percent will still haunt Mitt: Romney can't "undo all the damage caused by the video," says Margaret Hartmann at New York. The people who Romney said "believe they are victims" aren't likely to forget what he said, or that he tried "pretending he'd said something entirely different" before finally conceding the point.
"Romney reveals new '47 percent' defense he'd prepared for the debate"

If anything, Romney is making matters worse: This was a big mistake on Romney's part, says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. By walking back the 47-percent remark at this late stage, he's getting a double-whammy. The remarks made him look like an uncaring jerk, and now his reversal fuels his reputation as a flip-flopper. He's playing right into Obama's hands by helping to back up his argument that the nice Republican guy Americans saw on the debate stage was "a fake Romney pretending to be the real Mitt Romney."
"Is this why Obama didn't bring up '47 percent' at the debate?"

SEE MORE: Should Mitt Romney avoid zingers at the presidential debate?

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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