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HARRISONBURG, Virginia (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Thursday his comment on a secretly taped video in which he disparaged 47 percent of voters as dependent on government "was just completely wrong," as he attempted to repair the damage from the controversy.
Romney's interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity was the first time he completely disavowed remarks he made at a private fundraiser in May and which have emerged as a major stumbling block in his campaign against Democratic President Barack Obama.
The "47 percent" videotape did not come up in his Wednesday night debate with Obama, although the Obama campaign has used his remarks in a television ad.
Asked what he would have said if the issue had come up in the Denver debate, Romney said he would have said that after thousands of speeches as a presidential candidate, "now and then you're going to say something that doesn't come out right."
"In this case, I said something that was just completely wrong," he said.
"I absolutely believe however that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent. And that's been demonstrated throughout my life. This whole campaign is about the 100 percent. When I become president, it will be about helping the 100 percent," he added.
Romney said at the Florida fundraiser that 47 percent of voters were dependent on government and unlikely to support him in the November 6 election.
When the video was disclosed on September 17 by liberal magazine Mother Jones, Romney said his comments had been "not elegantly stated" but that he stood by them.
Obama has been second-guessed by some of his supporters for not bringing up the 47 percent video at the Denver debate. The president has been widely declared as the loser in that encounter, with two more presidential debates to come this month.
Additional reporting by Margaret Chadbourn in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney