Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is disavowing his controversial remarks dismissing “the 47 percent” of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes, saying in an interview Thursday night that the comments were “just completely wrong.”The only problem here for Romney is that nobody in their right mind will believe his disavowal. It would be one thing if he'd made his original comments in public and immediately corrected himself, but he made them in private, and when he learned that they had become public thanks to a secret recording, his first response was to defend what he'd said. Here's what he said on the night of the tape's release:
I believe the point I was made is that the president starts off with a large number of the voters, 47, 48, 49 percent, something like that. These are people who are in his camp and, uh, they will vote for him almost no matter what. [...] I point out I recognize that among those that pay no tax, approximately 47 percent of Americans, I’m not likely to be highly successful with the message of lowering taxes. [...] And so I then focus on those individuals who I believe are most likely to be able to be pulled into my camp and help me win the 51 or 50.1 percent that I need to become the next President.And then the very next day he doubled down again:
I'm talking about a perspective of individuals who I`m not likely to get to support me.And:
I recognize that those people who are not paying income tax are going to say, gosh, this—this provision of—that Mitt keeps talking about lowering income taxes, that`s not going to be real attractive to them. And those that are dependent upon government and those that think government`s job is redistribute, I—I'm not going to get them.
I know there is a divide in the country about that view. I know some believe that government should take from some to give to the others. I think the president makes it clear in the tape that was released today that that`s what he believes.
I was talking about the fact that I don`t expect to get 60-70 percent of the vote. I understand that some portion will be the president's. Some portion will be mine. I have got to get as many as I can from every single cohort in this country.And not that you needed another reason to dismiss the credibility of Romney's disavowal, but it turns out that he was actually planning to disavow it during the debate—but couldn't, because the topic never came up. Here's the exchange from last night in which Sean Hannity asked him what he would have said had the topic come up:
But the intent that I want to talk about and that that was intended to speak about was the fact that you have a great divide about whether we want a government that is larger and more intrusive and redistributing income, or whether, instead, you want a government that sees its role as protecting freedom and opportunity and letting free people build more wealth for all people.
HANNITY: But the Left seems furious that this tape where you talk about the 47 percent. Why didn't President Obama bring that up? What would you have said if he did bring it up?You know, given how the debate went, I bet Romney is disappointed he didn't get a chance to tell that lie. He got away with so much bull during the debate that he probably would have gotten away with that too. So in a way, the fact that it didn't come up is a silver lining. That's one lie I'd much rather have him tell to the one or two million voters who watch Sean Hannity than to the 60 or 70 million who tuned in on Wednesday night.
ROMNEY: Well, clearly in a campaign with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you will going to say something that doesn't come out right. In this case, I said something that's completely wrong.