November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
2 years 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. Joe

    Romney is right. Obama only won this election because he made policies that appealed to voters. Unbelievable!

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  2. Sour grapes

    My what big gifts your were promising your 1%rs Mitt? What a sore loser....I thought his concession speech was very eloquent, 8 days later, boom , foot in mouth......I see the loss hasn't changed anything..

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  3. visitorscoop

    These "gifts" Mitt is refering to are simplly what a modern, cicilized countries citizens should expect. FREE medical services, FREE education and a fairer distribution of welth. ALL of which are currently in place here in Sweden. (among a few other European counties I might add ..)

    November 15, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  4. Ted McD

    Guess who's running for president in 2016 ?

    November 15, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  5. bluesbaby

    He was so gracious the night of the election on losing. I saw a bit of a human side. Then the cheap shots come. I know its hard to lose, but making yourself look like an ass on top of it by gradiose excuses for just not winning. I wonder why. He just wasn't in touch with his femine side i guess. Mitt go do what you do best, make money, so all those taxes can be spilled right back into the economy. :)

    November 15, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. Max in AZ

    Either post my comment or don't. I think that the GOP has to move away, far, far away form the Tea party if they want to become relevant ever again.

    November 15, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  7. Robert

    What do you think a tax cut for the wealthy is? Sounds like a "gift" to me. Men like Romney don't always respond when things don't go their way. A lot of these guys have not had to face adversity, and don't know how to handle things when they don't go their way. Romney losing the election, surely didn't have anything to do with Romney, clearly there must be someone else to blame.... What Romney said, was not presidential. Of course, he isn't the president and never will be, so he can now behave however he wants to.

    November 15, 2012 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  8. muffinTop

    Sore loser! So POTUS outsmarted you...get over it! It was because of remarks like those why you lost. Haven't you figured that out yet? They are the 47% that you "dont care about." If John McCain didn't think enough of you (even after submitting 23 years of tax returns) to be his running mate, why would the country think you were good enough to be President. Lick your wounds...game over!

    November 15, 2012 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  9. Rina

    You still don't get it Romney. I love what he considers "gifts". Policies that help every american are hardly a "gift" to one side of our democracy. Yep, Obama gave us some "gifts". He gave us his gifts of compassion, empathy, caring, intelligence and great leadership. The only thing Romney gave us was lies, hostility, more of the "talking at" instead of "talking with". We saw what you had to offer us – more of the same that we got from Bush. No, thanks – we're not buying – not now, not ever!

    November 15, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  10. OldJoe

    Not true.

    I Never got my obamaphone.

    And now that the elections are over, I don't expect to ever receive one.

    November 15, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  11. dylan

    Who's Mitt Romney?

    November 15, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  12. Chris

    I'm appalled that our highest office now buys votes, an illegal practice, with my tax dollars! Why is it that so many blacks and hispanics simply want the 'free ride'? Are there no hard working blacks or hispanics in America who can see that this will lead to a bankrupt nation?

    November 15, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  13. Good Grief Charlie Brown

    Seems like Bobby Jindhal is the only one in the GOP that makes any sense. Romney is proving beyond all doubt that he is much more out of touch with the American Public than any of us ever imagined.
    Gifts? Are you kidding me?

    November 15, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  14. shelbyanne

    Millions in dollars in tax breaks a year. Time to end "gifts" to the bigot Romney.

    November 15, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  15. lmno

    What a sore..LOSER

    November 15, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  16. woodin59

    Romney and the GOP party in general didn't get then and still don't get it.

    "Romney told the donors he wanted to stay involved in public policy in some form, but he did not provide any details." Wow, no details here either!

    Change in thinking, policy, core values and beliefs will not happen in the short term and the GOP is kidding themselves if they think they have a chance in 2016. Maybe 2020 when the old guard has passed and they get seriously down to work now.

    November 15, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  17. Matt

    Not having a Mormon in the White House is a gift itself.

    November 15, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  18. TexAnne

    Good for Jindal. I've never been a big fan of his before, but he does seem to be the only voice of reason in the GOP right now. Maybe he can help right the ship....

    November 15, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  19. CJ Topspin

    Not really an Obama fan but...what is Romney trying to say here? That people voted for the guy who supported policies they favored?

    Uh...isn't that how the system works?

    November 15, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  20. breed7

    Wow, Mittens sounds just like George W. - blaming his failures on everyone but himself. This is the number one sign of a pathological liar.

    By the way, Willard, I don't receive welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, WIC assistance, Social Security or even tax breaks. I paid approximately 20% of my income last year in Income Taxes. And I STILL voted for Obama.

    Still wondering why you lost? The American public didn't buy your load of crap and your unintelligent rantings. That's all there is to it. Oh yeah, and Mormonism IS a cult.

    November 15, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  21. dm nash

    Romney REALLY should stop talking.....what an a** over and over again. Still a clueless loser. "Those people" are not just voting blocks (or indentured servants) – they are human beings, they are U.S. citizens who should have a government standing by them NOT against them. Imagine insuring people instead of flodding the ER's with uninsured and passing on the cost far greater to all of us via insurance rates and stressing social programs etc. Imagine that, a country that actually does the will of the people for the people...hmmm.
    Romney certainly received a "gift" in policies of Bushes tax cuts FAR greater than $10,000 insurance aid. Kinda hard to back away from the 47% comments when u keep repeating the same convoluted thought.
    The greatest "gift" the American people received from the re-election of President Obama is that Romney IS NOT our president.

    November 15, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  22. Meh

    Mitt who? Who is this and why is he still in the news?

    November 15, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  23. Thomas A Martinet

    Romney & the GOP sure are sore losers! They don't get the message at all that we are all in this mess together & it will take all of us pulling together to get us out! 47% & 53% have to come together. We are all Americans & this is one Great Melting Pot. Kindly get with the program! What Romney calls "gifts" are really necessities to the lower & middle class. He can afford to pay his own way & that is great, but the middle class & below are struggling just to put food on the table. I don't know anybody that makes $250,000 a year and is just scrapping by. & if they are, they are certainly wasting a lot of money.

    November 15, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  24. alpeaston

    Romney is revealing himself to be an insufurable creep. His defeat is convincing me that there must be a god protecting us!!! We definitely dodged a major bullet not ellecting him president. Thank you Obama and all the brilliant people who elected him!

    November 15, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  25. joepac

    wow!! so this was supposed to be the President who represent America right?

    November 15, 2012 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
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