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. Paula

    Wow! That's all I have to say. Is he serious?

    November 15, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  2. Connor Snyder

    Which is exactly why Obama won.

    Our country is made up of millions of folks who just want that "shot" at a taste of the AMERICAN DREAM.

    The select few who already have it obviosly failed "share" in kindergarten.

    November 15, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  3. Brad

    Romney ran a terrible campaign. End of Story. The GOP had 4 years to produce a viable candidate. They failed miserably and left us with the crybabies, ie. The GOP base.

    November 15, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  4. scott

    keep talking republicans. when will these idiota realize that everybody is a reporter with a cell phone....just keep on alienating everybody

    November 15, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  5. guest

    Romney lost, and all GOP presidental hopefuls are distanceing themselves from the looser.

    Nothing new here.

    November 15, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  6. tj

    you lost...get over it

    November 15, 2012 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  7. Michael

    and how are tax breaks for the very wealthy any different from the supposed "gifts" that Obama's policies support?

    So in Romney's world it's wrong for poor people to have healthcare, students to have reduced loan burdens and immigrants to have a path to legalization?

    November 15, 2012 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  8. John Galt

    American's have become far too short sighted. We'll go for anyone who promises us immediate gratification. Tomorrow doesn't matter and who pays for it really doesn't matter – as long as it's not us. It's impossible for a responsible candidate to win any office of importante because they'll lose every time to someone who promises "free" stuff. In the end America will be like all the people who's mortgage is bigger than the value of their house. Who'll bail us out then? What happenes when America declairs bankrupcy?

    November 15, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  9. Get_Real

    Dodged a bullet here! And the Repubs nominated this guy? Let's see how many distance themselves from the remarks.

    November 15, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  10. BigD

    The worst part is they did it to themselves with the fake news.Romney bought the made up Rasmussen polls and FOX even though they were way off the other polls. He still can't understand the USA hates pompous.

    November 15, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  11. sam matthew

    GOP needs to get some one like Bobby Jindal, Nikki Heiley, Dr. Condonrizza Rice to run for the GOp in 2016. Romney and Paul Ryan made a boo boo alreay, they need to shut up now, and move on personal life

    November 15, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  12. Chedar

    Romney you got Jindal almost passed out fir being too bland. The republican are just like you of course I forgot you represent them. Ask yourself why you loose. If you don't get it. Here it is, You republican are out of touch with reality. You are right there are more poor than rich. And those that are 47% you demeaning and don't expect to vote for you.

    November 15, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  13. chaing

    Games over. Take it like a man.

    November 15, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  14. And how

    Mitchel Romney needs to stop sucking his thumb.

    November 15, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  15. oldmom1

    So in addition to being petty and wrong-headed, he's a poor loser. Time to give it up and put your energy into something useful to our country.

    November 15, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  16. Denverdriver

    Romney is just a loser, a sore loser.

    November 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  17. oldmom1

    So in addition to being petty and wrong-headed, Romney is a sore loser.

    November 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  18. Jon

    This article doesn't come as a surprise to me. The conservative base has been circling the wagons since the election, to come up with an "excuse" as to how the "worst president ever" managed to win a second term. And against a wonderful "job creator" on top of it!

    Conservatives will never admit that the reason why they lost the election was because the country no longer believes in what they stand for. If they want to continue to exist as a party, they need to join the rest of us, in the modern world, and try to help move society in the right direction. Otherwise, the Republican party will die out like the dinosaurs... (which they believe occurred only a few thousand years ago).

    November 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  19. knightforx

    Some of this is true. However, although I voted for Romney, a lot of what he said annoyed the heck out of me. For example, you can't be against the Dream Act. That's just stupid. I'm also not so sure that I'm opposed to contraceptive coverage. Isn't that better than an abortion after the fact, or the taxpayers supporting out of wedlock children? I'm not sure what's not to like there. By the way, just for the record, I voted for Obama in 2008, so I'm not beholden to any one party here. We just can't afford to have a 20 trillion national debt, and if we do none of this other stuff is going to matter.

    November 15, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  20. BigD

    Does the agitive pompous with a noun come to mind?

    November 15, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. Loathstheright

    Yeah, gifts......the gift of not having Mitt the T w i t and Lyn' Ryan destroying the country.

    November 15, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  22. David

    Maybe Jindal has more brains than I gave him credit for? As for Romney, I voted against him because he is an idiot. Nothing more, nothing less.

    November 15, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  23. Snarks

    romney is true. look u have 16 million ILLEGALS voting for obummer. do the math. liberalism is a cancer.

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  24. jbuitron

    Ah Mitt... Still don't know when to keep your mouth shut long enough to prevent your foot from entering.

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  25. Concerned

    Is anyone else just tired of hearing the crap from the GOP. I use to be Republican but I don't even recognize these guys anymore. Romney sounds ridiculous now. His notes are not only condescending but down right racist. The GOP is a group of greedy, white, rich men that live in the past. Grow up and get your party together. Stop crying like babies and get your act together. Also, I'm sick and tired of hearing how the GOP congress is going to just stop everything. Trust me, if we don't end up with a balanced budget everyone in the USA will know it was the GOP party and you will have a better chance of seeing Mars before you get into the White House again. You guys are suppose to be smart... but you sure don't act like it. Get your party together and STOP THIS CONSTANT BASHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
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