November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
1 year ago

Jindal slams Romney for 'gifts' comment about minorities, young voters

(CNN) – Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana fiercely shot back at Mitt Romney’s claim Wednesday that President Barack Obama outmatched the 2012 Republican presidential nominee by offering "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Jindal, who was a surrogate for Romney’s campaign, said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that's absolutely wrong.”

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“I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party,” he continued. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”

Romney made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday afternoon, various news outlets have reported. The former Massachusetts governor also made similar arguments on a separate call earlier in the morning, CNN confirmed.

"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the afternoon call, according to audio aired on ABC News.

Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies - some of them this election year - that appealed to key constituencies.

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said, according to The New York Times.

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."

The president's health care reform plan, he added, also brought out support from African Americans and Hispanic voters.

"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free health care, particularly if you don't have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge," he said. "Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group."

But Jindal, when asked about Romney’s remarks, said in order for the GOP to be “competitive,” it has to “go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal’s criticism seemed to take latent swipes at Romney’s “47%” comments that were secretly recorded earlier this year. At a May fund-raiser, Romney argued that nearly half of Americans were “victims” who were “dependent” on the government, referring to the number of people who aren't required to pay federal income taxes. Those voters, he argued, sided with Obama.

Following up on Jindal's remarks, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker–who was sitting on a panel with Jindal when the Louisiana governor fired off–said the GOP isn't "just for people who are currently not dependent on the government."

"It's for all Americans," he continued, adding that the Republican Party is the party "that helps people find a pathway to live the American Dream."

A spokesperson for Romney did not return a request for comment about the call.

Romney, who has stayed away from the public spotlight since losing the election last week, had another call Wednesday morning with a couple dozen people who were part of the financial leadership of his campaign, but he did not make the same “gifts” comment.

The former nominee did say on that call that he really respected how the Obama administration was able to “craft” specific policies that ended up attracting the support of key demographic groups. He mentioned contraceptive coverage, as well as student loan policies that were important for young adults, according to one participant on the call.

He said he was sorry and disappointed that he lost but added his team had put everything it could into the election.

“We didn’t leave anything on the field,” one donor on the call told CNN.

He talked about how turnout was a lot lower this year, mentioning how the president got fewer votes than he did four years ago and that he got less than the 2008 Republican nominee, John McCain, received.

Romney told the donors he wanted to stay involved in public policy in some form, but he did not provide any details.

Romney's remarks come after top Republicans in recent days have pushed for a bigger tent party, saying the GOP learned this election that it has work to do in terms of demographic changes.

"We've got to be a lot more inclusive and open and energetic and wanting people to join our team by expressing why these conservative values are good for people of all races, creeds, colors, and national origin," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, previously a top surrogate for Romney, said last week on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

"We've just got to do a better job with that,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell expanded his remarks Wednesday and joined in on the discussion with Jindal and Walker at the conference. He argued the class of Republican governors is more diverse than the group of Democratic governors.

"They have, I think, two women and minorities. We have seven. We're not keeping score, but the point is," he said, pausing as some in the audience began to laugh. "Well, sometimes. We are keeping score. 30-19, that's the score that matters."

McDonnell is currently the outgoing chairman of the RGA, while Jindal will chair the group in 2013.

In the presidential race, Obama won 93% of the African-American vote, 71% of the Latino vote and 60% of those between the ages of 18 and 29. Romney, meanwhile, took 59% of the white voting bloc, according to CNN exit polls.

On the Democratic side, women and minorities made historic gains this election. For the first time, women and minorities will outnumber male Democrats in the House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will have a record number of women – 20 - when the 113th Congress convenes in January.

Romney, on the 20-minute call, said he was "disappointed" with the final election tally and "hadn't anticipated it." Looking ahead, Romney said the party is "still so troubled by the past (that) it's hard to put together our plans for the future," according to The Los Angeles Times, which also appeared to be on the call.

Speaking to the donors, Romney praised them for their success in fundraising and suggested they help with "perhaps the selection of a future nominee - which, by the way, will not be me."

The campaign's finance chairman, Spencer Zwick, said on the call that Romney's team had raised more than $900 million; Romney added he had not expected to take in more than $500 million, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In the morning after the comments, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who played the role of Rep. Paul Ryan in debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden, characterized Romney's words as "way off base."

"To go after the president's vote on the basis of we protected more young people from catastrophic health care costs, that we wanted to make sure people have access to birth control and those kind of things, I think is going to strike the American people as kind of very off-kilter," Van Hollen said on CNN's "Starting Point."


Filed under: 2012 • Latinos • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (608 Responses)
  1. Ohio

    Today Obama graciously offered to invite Romney for discussions on some of the good ideas Romney brought up during the campaign. I'd have loved to see Romney win but hey, we can't all be winners. Man up and move on Mr Romney it's time for the President to do work.

    November 14, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. Realdeal

    The GOP just doesn't get it and never will. Romney is truly disrespectful to minorities and that's why he lost. You can't insult minorities in one breath then ask them to vote for you in the next. President Obama didn't offer me anything but respect for my vote. As long as the GOP continues to disrespect minorities, they will never win the minority vote. You can refer to Hispanics as illegal aliens and anchor babies or refer to blacks as lazy and on welfare, then expect for them to forget about it when they walk into the voting booth.

    November 14, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Rose

    I find it hard to believe that he would insult the American people yet again. To think the average American can be bought so easy. That is not why he lost the election. He lost the election because the GOP is split. They are split on everything. Their platform is not congruent with their behavior. IE smaller government yet they want to monitor what goes on between a woman and her doctor. 4 years ago the GOP had plenty to say about Mitt Romney and then they want to elect him now???
    Please, you embarrass the party yet one more time by being a sore loser and insulting the average american. This USA is now a diverse population. The people will speak not a small group of rich folks looking to control. Wise up or your schism will only get bigger.

    November 14, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. AKSean

    The little bit of respect he earned from me as a result of his very gracious concession speech has just evaporated. What a sore loser. Besides, what Romney calls gifts I would call personal responsibility–the health care isn't free but is paid through taxes and fees, the loan forgiveness is part of a national service plan, and I shouldn't have to say anything about contraceptives. I am very thankful Romney and his worldview was soundly rejected by a respectable majority of Americans.

    November 14, 2012 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Shara

    10,000 a year for healthcare or even 5,000 a year IS huge. It may only be packet change to you, but healthcare cost is hurting a lot of us. You get your tax breaks for a horse, people with kids gets thier child tax credit, and marriage deduction, farmers get to write off GPS guilded tractors, multi national companies get breaks for off shoring, and I could go on. So if I have to pay for all YOUR goodies then why can't I get a little help with healthcare cost. In case you didn't noticed the healthcare system is a mess, even if you have insurance.

    November 14, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. ptorab

    I am sick of your righteousness. Obama is not in a position to give a "gift" to voters, which would mean corruption. He and his party are simply aligning their views with what the young and diverse population of our country demand ("demand", not "need" - do you get it?). I would vote for a fiscally responsible GOP any day if they just get the courage to deal with issues that will determine the future of my kids. Free contraception, religion, diversity are not among those issues. Adding ships is not among those issues. Budget and global technology leadership are.

    Hey GOP – Get rid of all the junk to find love. Dump your bible and tea friends, and you will find acceptance with mainstream. Just like any sane corporation you first have to lay off strategists and visionaries who keep failing you, and become the hip cool socially tolerable party you should be. Get rid of everyone 55+ in your party. They are fossils or extinct animals at best.

    November 14, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. tasaad

    Ensuring access to affordable healthcare is not a gift. Everyone should be able to see a doctor and receive medical care that help him/her remain a productive member of society. If health insurance coverage, the only means of real access to healthcare, cost on average $10,000 a year, and the head of household working full time, year round can only make $25,000-$35,000 per year, access to healthcare is denied to that family, and not because they are lazy or don't deserve quality of life. If minorities consistently make less money than white males, there is not equality and something needs to be done to level the playing field. This has got to be the most out outrageous comments I have heard from this man. But don't worry, tomorrow he will say something different, and that my friend is the real reason he lost, no one could trust a word out of his mouth because he flip-flopped on everything he has ever said.

    November 14, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  8. Timbp

    Therein lies the real roblem for the republican party.... Giant social give-aways is a mainstay of the Democratic strategy which is the opposite of what the Republicans believe in. How can they compete against the candy store? Like living in the Matrix.... and everybody just swallowed one giant red pill.

    November 14, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  9. iheartyou

    And this is why you lost, Mr. Romney. There was a huge number of Caucasians that also voted for Obama, and they weren't all young. Why is that? It's because, luckily, the majority of people in this country saw through you. You just don't get it... still. If you want to call affordable health care for everyone, cutting breaks to students on the outrageous amounts they have to pay for an education, and making sure birth control is available to everyone "gifts" then you really are a pinhead. Giving breaks to our young people who are looking at spending the next 25 years of their after-college lives just trying to pay off student loans is frowned upon by you and considered an "Obama gift to minorities", but giving your rich cronies tax breaks is just good politics to you? sigh. Good grief. Just go away now, will ya'. Just go and live out the rest of your life in one of your many vacation homes, riding one of your many thoroughbred horses, and yachting with your buddies. Just go now so the media can stop reporting on your every breath. Go. We are done with you.

    November 14, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. DesertAl

    So let me get this straight: Healthcare to someone making 25000 to 35000 is a "gift". But giving huge tax breaks to people making 25 million a year is a legitimate campaign strategy. I wonder if Mitt has ever had to get by on 25000 a year?

    Look up "clueless" in the dictionary.....see whose picture is there.

    November 14, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  11. Lar5

    Romney probably will not believe this. He and Ryan have absolutely no
    comprehension of this country.It will come as a surprise to them that
    79% of citizens live in urban areas, work hard and do not consider
    themselves takers.As a result a majority of Americans expect the U.S. to
    go over the fiscal cliff at the beginning of 2013 and would blame
    Republicans if that happens, according to a Pew poll published
    today.That’s what happens when you live the life of the rich and famous
    in a ivory tower. You never get it!

    November 14, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  12. jcourtn1

    What a shame – he's chosen to follow the McCain model of bitterness and nastiness. I look at John Kerry – he lost and yet continues to serve our country with dignity.
    There's something wrong with the type of people the GOP is putting forward – there can be grace in losing. I guess they don't really believe it when they say, "Thy will be done." If they did, they would be at peace.

    November 14, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  13. Eduardo

    I am Hispanic, have a post graduate degree, make over $200k a year and voted for President Obama for a second term. I voted for him, not because of so called "gifts", as a matter of fact I get nothing from the government. I voted for Obama because the Republican party is out of touch with mainstream America. This "gift" comment is exactly why the Republicans are loosing the Hispanic, African American, women and young voter's vote. One word for Romney – idiot!

    November 14, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  14. Nathan

    This is basic grade-school civics. People vote for the candidate who best represents their interests. It's called democracy. What troubles me is that Governor Romney seems to be saying that democracy in action is just pandering. As opposed to, you know, changing his positions on health care, abortion, gay rights, etc. to appeal to the Republican base. That wasn't pandering. That was leadership. Whatever.

    November 14, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  15. artraveler

    Romney still shows that he has no connection with the everyday American citizen. Yes, Romney, a large medical bill to someone making $25-30K can mean bankrupcy because we can't borrow the money from daddy,. You really need to get your butt out of your"bubble" and learn how people klike you and your raiding have hurt and destroyed American families. You can give 100% of your mioney to charity but as far as I can see, you jave have no idea of what "christian" means. Your god is Money and MoMoney!

    November 14, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  16. AvidReader

    So Romney's excuse for losing is that young voters and minority voters were enticed to vote for Obama because he supported their interests? Novel idea!!!
    Is the GOP going to be handing out condoms to young women in 4 years? That will get some votes!!! And where do I get my FREE healthcare? The idea is that everyone shares the bill, which is better than what happens now.

    November 14, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  17. MikeB

    Who will stand up for those who had their representation discarded in the general election?
    There are delegates that didn't get to represent those who voted because of the States that go by 'Winner-Take-All'.
    The whole premise of the Electoral College is to assure that the most populated demographics don't rule over the less populated demographics. Mob rule was never the intent of our Republic.
    Perhaps the challenge should be brought forth before January 2013. 'Winner-Take-All' is a violation of Voter Rights.

    November 14, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  18. SusieTX

    President Obama did not give me or any of my family any 'gifts' and he got votes from ALL of us. We are white, we are Americans, we are middle class, and NONE of us have ever been on any kind of assistance. Romney just confirmed that MY vote was the right vote. He is so out of touch. Out of touch like a lunatic!

    November 14, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  19. spock

    It was those 47% that Romney spoke of, getting free gifts to vote Democratic. It couldn't be that Republicans want to eliminate individual freedoms, turn America into a Theocracy, and transfer middle-class wealth to the 1%, turning the middle-class employment model into indentured servitude. Obama is reversing Bush's Great Recession, Bush caused a $5 trillion increase in the debt and left an economy dependent on $1 trillion of government spending. Republicans policy have failed for 30 years, and they endlessly blame Democrats. Clinton fixed the last Republican recession, Obama is fixing this one.

    November 14, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  20. A first

    And Romney promised not to raise taxes for his rich donors... that's politics, Mitt.

    Kudos to the many Republicans who now realize that their party is out of touch with modern America. We need a healthy 2-party system... and, unless Republicans realize the country and its voters have changed since 1950, the GOP is doomed. Stop whining Romney and Ryan and step aside for Bobby Jindal and other Republicans who have a better sense of reality.

    November 14, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  21. Stephen Daugherty

    Obama's best gift to the public is his ability to talk to folks beyond his base of support without going out of his way to offend people. It's a gift Romney still sorely lacks.

    Speaking on the subject of gifts, what does Romney call the across the board tax cuts?

    November 14, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  22. Mike

    President Clinton has an extra marital affair in the Oval Office and President Obama parades him around to campaign for him like he's some kind of war hero? What a joke! I'm waiting for Obama to say, "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is"... when asked why he didn't address illegal immigration! Pathetic two faced "P.O.S". He said, "America needs change" in 2008; yet he lied about addressing illegal immigration to help earn votes and used a womanizer ex-President to campaign for him. Doesn't sound much like "change" to me...

    November 14, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  23. A proud, yet disappointed American

    I wish America would buckle up and see that half of the ignorant comments by republicans, are being made to justify old gray-haired white men's opinions of anyone and everyone who is not the "model" republican a.k.a. a well to-do white man. Stating that Obama provided contraceptives to young college women to get them to vote for him, when they have been available for nearly two decades says something about the "facts" these republicans always seem to use. I wish Romney and several other old gray-haired white men would take their comments and put them in the trash along with their failed campaign, because I am personally tired of the b.s. being recycled.

    November 14, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  24. Dan

    So thankful this fake man didn't win the election. First he flip flops on his political beliefs and now he throws a hissy-fit because he lost the election. Newsflash Mitt Romney: YOU LOST the election. Bashing anyone other than yourself is just nonsense. Here's some advice buddy: go kick rocks.

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  25. Stephanie

    CNN don't you ever get tired of dishing out crap and pretending it is newsworthy. You will be sorry one day that you didn't back a man who was hired by major corporations to revive their failing businesses. America is failing a"rehire" the person who thinks the only way out is to spend his way out . You have given the biggest pass with zero vetting to our Junior Senator Commander in Chief... and completely through the best person for the right time under the bus. Hope your free birth control is worth it. Eventually there is a price for all the "free" things you are backing. You will sadly be writing about that one day.

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
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