Acknowledging error is rare for Romney. Asked recently whether his TV ads had strayed from the facts, he said they had been "absolutely spot-on." Fact-checking operations have argued otherwise.
Some conservatives rallied around Romney after the video surfaced, urging him to stand behind the remarks as accurate despite the criticism.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said, and that his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Romney later told reporters at a news conference called to address the remarks: "It's not elegantly stated, let me put it that way. I was speaking off the cuff in response to a question. And I'm sure I could state it more clearly in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that."