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Mitt Romney calls 47% remarks ‘wrong’

Mitt Romney addressed a rally Thursday in Virginia.REUTERS

FISHERSVILLE, Va. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has described his disparaging remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes as ‘‘not elegantly stated.’’ Now he’s calling them ‘‘just completely wrong.’’

The original remarks, secretly recorded during a fund-raiser in May and posted online in September by the magazine Mother Jones, sparked intense criticism of Romney and provided fodder to those who portray him as an out-of-touch millionaire oblivious to the lives of average Americans.

The remarks became a staple of Obama campaign criticism.

Initially, Romney defended his view, telling reporters at a news conference shortly after the video was posted that his remarks were ‘‘not elegantly stated’’ and that they were spoken ‘‘off the cuff.’’


He did not disavow them, however, and later adopted as a response when the remarks were raised that his campaign supports ‘‘the 100 percent in America.’’

In an interview Thursday night with Fox News, Romney was asked what he would have said had the ‘‘47 percent’’ comments come up during his debate in Denver on Wednesday night with President Obama.

‘‘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,’’ 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 percent, and that’s been demonstrated throughout my life. And this whole campaign is about the 100 percent.’’

Critics of Romney’s ‘‘47 percent’’ remarks noted that many of those who do not pay federal income taxes pay other forms of taxes.

More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reported. Millions of others do not pay federal income taxes because they do not earn enough after deductions and exemptions.



Election consortium says costs force cutbacks in exit polls in some states

NEW YORK — The National Election Pool, the consortium that sponsors the exit polls for each election cycle, has decided for the first time in a presidential election year to reduce the number of states in which it will conduct surveys.

The consortium, which was created in 1990 and includes the television networks and the Associated Press, now contracts with Edison Research in Somerville, N.J., to survey voters nationally, within the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

The networks and Associated Press have decided to omit exit polls in states deemed noncompetitive this year, taking into consideration the presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial races, and referendums. Information about voters in those states — their age, race, sex, and other pertinent data — will not be available for the future.

In 2010, the pool did something similar: it conducted exit polls in about half the states. This year, there will be exit polls in 31 states.

Increased cost is the driving force for the cutback. The budget for the exit polls is about the same as four years ago, according to Daniel Merkle, director of elections at ABC News, and a member of the committee that manages the pool. ‘‘We are simply shifting resources to get the best coverage we can: beefing up the national sample, beefing up the telephone polls, beefing up the battleground states,’’ he said.


More than 30 states have started early voting, requiring telephone polling to supplement the in-person Election-Day surveys. This year, the consortium has included plans to conduct phone polls in 15 states, which adds to the cost of surveying a state. And the increased use of cellphones adds to the cost of phone surveys.

The excluded states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The District of Columbia was also excluded.

Some precincts from these states will, however, be included in a broader national exit survey, so that voters in these states will be represented. The pool has increased the number of precincts sampled in the national survey to 350 this year.

The pool’s decision to reduce the number of states it surveys this year was first reported on The Washington Post’s website.


Ann Romney to guest host TV show

NEW YORK — Ann Romney will be the guest host of ‘‘Good Morning America’’ on Wednesday.

ABC said the wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will be on hand at the morning news program for its 8 a.m. hour.

Joining George Stephanopoulos at the anchor desk, Ann Romney will be filling in for co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is on extended medical leave.

ABC said it is in discussions with Michelle Obama for a similar guest appearance when her schedule allows.


Stephen Colbert, Oprah Winfrey, and the cast of the TV show ‘‘Modern Family’’ have previously been announced to substitute for Roberts, who had a bone marrow transplant last month.