Romney pushes back after protesters interrupt rally
January 9th, 2012
09:47 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney pushes back after protesters interrupt rally

(CNN) - Mitt Romney sparred with a group of Occupy protesters at a rally in New Hampshire Monday, a rare sight for the former Massachusetts governor who normally avoids engaging when his campaign stops are interrupted.

When a group began chanting “Live Free or die! Always occupy!” during a campaign stop in Bedford, Romney intervened and asked the group what message they were aiming to get across.

CNN Live: Tune in Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET for CNN's live special coverage of the New Hampshire Primary and follow real-time results on CNNPolitics.com and on Twitter at #cnnelections. Stay up to date with CNN apps for iPhone, iPad, Android or other phones.


- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

“How about, instead of shouting, why don’t you say what you mean? What’s your view? Madam, what do you think?” Romney asked.

When a protester responded with a grievance about the role of money in political campaigns, Romney used the moment to take a swipe at President Barack Obama.

“Who’s the president who’s spending more money to campaign than any in the history of America?” Romney asked to cheers from his supporters. “The answer is that this president is spending money and has spent money. You know what this president has been the first president to throw aside the public funding program and break all those barriers and to spend massively more than any president in history.”

Romney said the protesters weren’t offering a legitimate alternative to the American system of government.

“I get the chance to see these guys who come out here to protest and now and then I ask them, 'Tell me, what would you replace America with, what kind of system would you have?' They don’t know. And the truth is, there has never been any place on Earth that has freed people from poverty like free enterprise American style,” Romney said.

Romney’s demeanor during the skirmish was markedly different than his reactions to previous interruptions to his campaign events, and reflected a style employed by his surrogate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on Sunday.

Responding to chants from a group of attendees yelling "Mitt kills jobs, Christie kills jobs,” the Republican governor fired back.

"Really? You know something may go down tonight, but it ain't gonna be jobs sweetheart," Christie said, before pointing to his record of job creation in the New Jersey.

At other events, Romney has tersely told protesters, “you had your turn, now it’s my turn,” before waiting for police to escort protesters out.

Also see:

Santorum to South Carolina: 'Step up'

Romney feared being fired

Paul looking forward to South Carolina, caucus states

Perry makes play for Christian voters in South Carolina

Democrats maintain focus on Romney


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. ZoeyKay

    Someone also needs to question his plans for reform. Why do his plans for reforming Social Security and Medicare point to seniors on a fixed income shelling out more money because their benefits would be diminished, but his plans for tax reform point to giving even bigger tax breaks to the corporations and wealthy, basically increasing their benefits? With our national debt increasing every single day, I think bigger tax breaks, which would only decrease the tax revenue, shouldn't be on anyone's table.

    January 10, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  2. Tony Vaughn

    Nifty, cool-headed sidestep of the protesters grievance about money in politics. See how the expert debater asks a question to counter question? Yup! Another Obama! Not for me! I'm goin with Paul on this one!!!!!

    January 10, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. exodus84

    What's funny to me is that all of Romney's opponents complain about the amount of money Romney has to spend on his campaign. Then Romney complains about how much Obama spends on his campaign. Meanwhile, those heckling him (and they plan to heckle Obama too from what I read) are all complaining about how much money ALL of these people spend to sway the vote. Everyone appears to be on the same page with spending money for a campaign. I wonder why they just can't pass campaign finance reform. Hmmm...

    January 10, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Robert - Atlanta

    What kind of government? A government where average people are represented by our elected officials, not just The Idle Rich and corporations. The republicans want to eliminate all those laws and regulations that interfere with the new GOP Far-right Wing agenda – Cradle to Grave at LESS than minimum wage is the GOP motto. The Rule of Law only applies when you can use it against anyone else!

    January 10, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. CloverGirl

    Mitt has a real thing about being interrupted. He gets all kinds of hostile, and chants his go-to phrase "you've had your turn, now let me have mine" in a terse, angry voice. Someone with that short a fuse is not president material. Presidents get heckled all the time.

    January 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Paul1st

    The protester is right, there is too much money in politics. Further, the massive amounts of now untraceable money creates opportunities for massive corruption. Essentially, Romney did not acknowledge the problem but Obama did (remember the State of the Union address?) Both Obama and Romney are smart enough politicians to know that if something is not illegal, they would be fools to give up an advantage to the opposition candidate by standing on principle. That is politics. Ask Newt about how foreswearing negative ads worked out for him if you still have doubts.

    January 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    The argument that President Obama is spending more campaign money than any US President in history is only a distraction to change the subject. Romney will never defend himself as long as he is on top of the polls. He will continue to attack, attack, attack. When you are defending yourself in politics, it means you are losing the argument.

    January 10, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  8. Ezra

    And the truth is, there has never been any place on Earth that has freed people from poverty like free enterprise American style,” Romney said.
    --------------------
    To bad that's a LIE. The USA ranks way down in upward mobility and is the country where how much money your father has determines how successful you will be.

    January 10, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. Anonymous

    “Who’s the president who’s spending more money to campaign than any in the history of America?”
    That would be Mitt Romney – Oh wait, you mean the last 4 times you spent millions of dollars to campaign doesn't count?

    'Tell me, what would you replace America with, what kind of system would you have?'

    Mitt suggests that the ONLY way to get corruption out of politics is to "REPLACE AMERICA"?

    That's like saying the only way Mitt Romney will stop saying stupid things is to cut his head off. Well, maybe he has a point.

    January 10, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. BD70

    Romney who believes corporations are people. He got nasty in Iowa when he was heckled after saying that. Not surprised he got nasty again when it was mentioned money should be out of politics.

    January 10, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  11. Joe

    The Repubs are right about class wars just wait when they find out that all the money in the world won't keep them SAFE if someone wants to get you!!!!!

    January 10, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Joshua Gonzalez

    The occupy movement hasn't been co-opted by either party though both parties have tried. They are not Pro democrat nor Pro republican. They are ANTI-GREED! ANTI-CORRUPTION!

    January 10, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Joshua Gonzalez - The occupy movement hasn't been co-opted by either party though both parties have tried. They are not Pro democrat nor Pro republican. They are ANTI-GREED! ANTI-CORRUPTION!
    =========================================================================================
    If this was true then they would be camped out full time in front of the Whitehouse and heckling Obama.

    January 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. Vince

    As if Mitt Romney could every understand the average middle class American. He's been worth millions since the day he was born.

    January 10, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. callmecrazy

    What makes Romney think the Occupy movement is about replacing the government? That is the problem with republicans. They think every opposing view is the extreme opposite of their own. Ever heard of the term middle ground?

    January 10, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Bert

    Free enterprise, eh?, yea that's not really working! I was under the impression that candidates are allowed to spend the money they have to campaign, If Mitt had more money than Obama, you can bet he would spend it all.

    January 10, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Lisa P

    Interesting that Mitt pretends that the Occupiers want a different "system." Maybe they just want the system we've got to run for *everyone's* benefit - not just for the top 1% of fortunate heirs, hedge fund managers, corporate CEOs and the corrupt politicians who love them and their money. Whatever happened to an honest dollar for an honest day's work? We've let greed run this country into the ground - time to take this country back from the slick talkers who make nothing except 0.3% on every trade, or a $1,000,000 bonus for laying off a thousand workers. Fortunately America is still a democracy, but it may not be for long if the people don't speak out. Thank God for the Occupiers, returning America to its true self!

    January 10, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Beverly - NYC

    Good going Willard, blame the President like he is the only candidate to spend money on a campaign. I just love it when the platinum spoons set getoffended, beacause they have to deal with the masses every 4 years. Williard showed a little bit of his true nature yesterday, he told the truth about firing people who provide services to him. If you're not not in the 1% billionaire club, you're just a service provider to be hired and fired at will. Thanks for the glimse, your slick veneer will come off the longer this campaign goes on.

    January 10, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Bill, NY

    When it comes to money being spent, no one spends big money like the republican super PACs. Super PACs where no one knows the the identities of the donors. Obama spent big, but the biggest donors were and are people who donate $10 to 50 or $60. In other words the president's money is coming from real people not big corporations pretending to be people. Romney is as phony as phony can be!

    January 10, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. SayIt

    Romney once strapped a dog to the roof of his car on a cross-country road trip. That's a fact. Then he used the story as an example of his "problem solving" skills during the run up to the last election. Clark Griswold for President; this guy may be a psychopath.

    January 10, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. ndlily

    Exodus84–the answer to your question about why we can't pass campaign finance is simple. The foxes, both blue and red, are in control of the hen house. The only way to get control of the hen house back is to do a way with the foxes, but good luck with that one.

    January 10, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    I'm beginning to wonder whether these things are getting staged by the candidates' campaigns themselves at this point so they can manufacture these "moments". Mittens' blather sounds way to planned and scripted for an off-the-cuff showdown with some angry protesters, particularly for a guy who's not exactly hyperarticulate.

    January 10, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    It's about time candidates started whacking these losers down like they deserve. They are leftist/anarchists that have no solutions and only want attention, like 2 year children with wet diapers.

    January 10, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. tumbleweed

    Blame Bush for giving us the corpratist supreme court, which gave us unlimited corporate (corp. are people) $$$, which will continue to favor the Republicans who are out numbered. They have to and will outspend the left
    to win elections. That was the whole plan, not to mention voter supression , under the guize of voter fraud, which aint happening enough to change voter registration laws. POTUS has lots of money to spend to challenge Romney, but he got his "primarily" from small donations. He also has a superpac, but he had too to prevent being out spent by the Right.
    Democrats=middle class Republicans= wealth and ignorant, bigoted middle class and poor people who have fallen for the same "Southern Strategy"= bigotry, created by Nixon. It's in the Republican play book.

    January 10, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. Howard

    For all we know, Willard set up those clay pidgeons so he could shoot them down to show how tough he is on the occupy movement . Stranger things have happened in political campaigns!

    January 10, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6