Mitt Romney’s ’47 Percent’ Gaffe Tops Yale’s Quotes of the Year

Finally, Mitt Romney finds a way to defeat President Obama.

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / Getty Images

President Barack Obama listens to the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the second presidential debate, the only held in a townhall format, at the David Mack Center at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Oct. 16, 2012.

We’re nothing if not good sharers at NewsFeed, which is why we don’t just point you in the direction of TIME’s top 10 quotes of the year but — as the saying sort of goes — to others that are also available.

Case in point: Fred Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School, released his seventh annual list of the most notable quotes of the year. Spoiler alert: politics features pretty heavily.

(LIST: TIME’s Top 10 of Everything 2012)

Ironically, in an ideal world for Mitt Romney, Yale’s most memorable quote of 2012 would never have come to light if it hadn’t been secretly filmed and released to the wider world by an anonymous source, who gave the film to Mother Jones magazine in the run-up to the election Romney would eventually lose to President Barack Obama. Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark — referring to the vast swath of the electorate who Romney felt he had no chance of attracting, because of the fact they paid no federal income tax — is Shaprio’s most notable quote of the year.

In total, nine of Yale’s top 10 quotations are of a political nature. “Debate remarks and gaffes actually seemed to play an important role in the ups and downs of the election campaign and may even have affected the ultimate outcome of the election,” Shapiro said, and his list certainly backs up his belief. Romney won’t be pleased to have the first and second quotes of the year, with his almost-as-damaging misstatement from the second Presidential Debate, “binders full of women,” high on Yale’s list as well.  (See below for the entire top 10).

Quote three is President Obama’s “you didn’t build that,” which he’d intended to refer to the public resources that even the most independent entrepreneur must rely on, but which opponents took as yet another symbol of the President’s crypto-socialism. Obama’s zingers during the debates — “Please proceed, Governor,” and “We have these things called aircraft carriers” — round out the top five.

(VIDEO: Google+ Hangout: Debating the Debate with TIME’s Politics Team)

The lower half, apart from Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s outrageous remarks about rape (which actually topped TIME’s own list) is fairly standard political fare, from the Romney campaign’s “Etch-a-Sketch” comment to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s outburst on Fox News during Hurricane Sandy (“I have a job to do … If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”) But it’s interesting to note that the lone non-political quote is courtesy of the ubiquitous South Korean rapper Psy, who took the world by storm with his viral video “Gangnam style.”

The Best Quotes of 2012:

(LIST: Should Psy Be TIME’s Person of the Year?)

1. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
— Mitt Romney, remarks at private fundraiser, Boca Raton, Florida, May 17

2. “We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet [in Massachusetts]. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks?” and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
— Mitt Romney, second presidential debate, Hempstead, New York, Oct. 16

3. “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”
— Barack Obama, remarks at campaign appearance, Roanoke, Virginia, July 13

4. “Please proceed, Governor.”
— Obama, during the second presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, Oct. 16, as Romney insisted (incorrectly) that the President had not called the Libya attack an act of terrorism.

5. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
— Obama, third presidential debate, Boca Raton, Florida, Oct. 22

6. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
— Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin, KTVI-TV interview, Aug. 19

7. “You hit a reset button for the fall campaign; everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
— Romney senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, CNN interview, March 21

8. “I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability.”
—Jill Kelley, in a telephone call to an emergency dispatcher, Tampa, Florida, Nov. 11, regarding media crews at her home as news broke of her involvement in the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus

9. “Oppan Gangnam style.”
South Korean rapper PSY, “Gangnam Style”

10. [tie] “Under current law, on January 1st, 2013, there is going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases.”
—Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testimony at House Committee on Financial Services hearing, Feb. 29

10. [tie] “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.”
—Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, WMAZ-TV television interview on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Nov. 21

10 (tie)
“I have a job to do. … If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Fox News interview on Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 30


When Mitt Romney made the observation that he would not be able to win over at least 47% of the American populace, he was stating the fact that 47% of the country was already locked in to voting for Obama and his Santa Claus government, because they wanted and needed it, he was telling the truth.  The media twisted that factual statement into the bogus "gaffe" that Mitt Romney did not care about the people, when in fact he simply said that he could not  focus or worry about getting their vote.  Big difference. The media is ridiculously liberal, utterly dishonest, can no longer be trusted to tell the truth, and that is not a gaffe, that is also a fact.  Another fact:  Mitt Romney was the most brilliant and good man to run for President since Abraham Lincoln and the fact that the majority of Americans were not able to recognize that fact and feel blessed and lucky to have an opportunity to vote for him reveals the sign of the times.

OhMyRighties 1 Like

@SRileygls Most brilliant is a stretch.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." —Mitt Romney (January 2012) 

"As president, I will create 12 million new jobs." —Mitt Romney, during the second presidential debate"Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs." —Mitt Romney, 45 minutes later (Oct. 16, 2012)

"Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea." –Mitt Romney during the third presidential debate. In fact, Iran and Syria do not share a border and Iran has direct access to international waters through its large coastline on the Gulf. (Oct. 22, 2012)

"Is $100,000 middle income?" -George Stephanopoulos"No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less." -Mitt Romney, ABC's "Good Morning America," Sept. 14, 2012

"He [Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people." —Mitt Romney at a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, June 8, 2012

"I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed." —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida. Romney's net worth is over $200 million.

"We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps." —Mitt Romney, who has two Harvard degrees (April 5, 2012)


"Mitt Romney's '47 Percent' Gaffe Tops Yale's Quotes of the Year" should be "He's Done Six Before: Mitt Romney's '47 Percent' "Gaffe" Tops Associate Librarian's Quotes of the Year".


Its so funny how you people think you are sullying a man's outstanding reputation by quoting a line that was so severly twisted by you, the media. Shows how low you journalists will go. How about the lies that Obama said over Benghazi. Now those lies cost lives. Mitt Romney will never be responsible for that kind of a lie.



On the topic, if you measure how viral a quote was, for good or bad this OBVIOUSLY tops the list. BTW juno, evil Obama dropped the ball in Benghazi for sure. But you gave Bush a second term when 3000 Americans were killed under his watch on our soil in broad daylight with ominous intel at his disposal. So your Benghazi criticism is partisan not principled.