November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
6 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. saveyourfeet

    I wish i could say "the real Romney" is showing himself. But he has changed positions so often since before the primaries that I doubt If a Real Romney" even exists. Thank a great campaign for showing us the loser he is.

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

    Can you say clueless boys and girls.

    November 15, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  3. Marshall Jefferson

    Well, the republicans found out the hard way that dividing the country along racial lines to get a candidate elected is a bad strategy and hopefully they'll get a president elected next term by using a more positive message than "elect us or you'll pay for half the country to be on food stamps!"

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

    I wish I could say " the real Romney is showing himself" but he has changed so many positions since before the primary that I doubt if a "Real Romney" even exists. thank a great campaign for showing us what a loser he is

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

    Hmmm... Gifts he says? Let's talk about Romney Claus:

    A tax cut to the wealthiest folks in the country...
    A gift to the insurance industry by killing the affordable healthcare act....
    Christmas for big oil...
    "Happy Days are Here Again," for corporations wanting tax breaks even though they outsource jobs over seas...
    Pork galore for defense industries spending money the Pentagon didn't ask for...
    And a nice big lump of coal to his favorite people...the lazy, shiftless 47%!

    November 15, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  6. King

    Wow. What a cry-baby! Rich people crack me up sometimes. To psuedo-quote The Social Network, he's crying because for the first time in his life, things didn't go exactly the way they were supposed to for him.Geez

    November 15, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  7. Sodapophead

    Sore loser.

    November 15, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  8. Varahaswamy

    Romney's comments tell us a lot about why he lost.

    November 15, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  9. jason

    That is exactly what the president did!! He promised amnesty, tax the rich, and basically you aren't responsible for your shortcomings. He is santa claus.

    November 15, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  10. BillInLA

    Romney wanted to give the richest Americans a gift of even lower taxes than the gigantic (for the rich) Bush tax cuts.

    He knows a thing or two about giving gifts.

    November 15, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  11. LeeAT

    Romney is totally clueless and should listen to his running mate. He lost because he was not the candidate to beat Obama and if the GOP is ever going to be relevant again, they need to listen to voices of sanity within the party, instead of the lunatics that are currently out front in the party.

    November 15, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  12. Jarrod

    What an utter and total sore loser. And then of course being a good Republican–he lays the blame squarely on everyone but–you guessed it–himself. This man is failure at being a good community minded citizen and should never be a leader of anything that involves the vital interests of others. I would never trust this man with anything I value.

    November 15, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  13. SmallBizCEO

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Romney wanted to give the richest Americans a gift of even lower taxes than the gigantic (for the rich) Bush tax cuts.

    He knows a thing or two about giving gifts.

    What...the language is too strong?

    November 15, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  14. imaginetilecompany

    As opposed to the "gifts" to the ultra-rich that Romney was planning to hand out like candy.... ??

    November 15, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  15. Dennisweller

    Get over it Mitt! U and Paul lost the game fair and square! Now go home and practice your violin with paul and tommy thompson-another poor loser who forgot where he put his glasses to see this nation is'nt a nation of uncaring people and a present leader who won fair and square! Send me your new address in CANADA! MAYBE NOW THE GOP CAN WORK TO UNIFY OUR GOALS!

    November 15, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  16. Ed

    He remixed his 47% pct. comment.... He could now go and live on bitter island with Mc lame and Sarah plain and take Ry-lying with him

    November 15, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  17. Cadillacjoe

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

    November 15, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  18. imaginetilecompany

    As opposed to the "gifts" that Romney planned to hand out to the ultra-wealthy like candy?? ....

    November 15, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  19. Anonymous

    I'm still "STUCK" on "Coperations" are people Too.. How so Disconnect,,,and They still Just dont """GET–IT!!

    November 15, 2012 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  20. Mick

    Yes, Romney, and that gift is called 'A Better America.' It is a gift to us all.

    November 15, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  21. ss

    Romney is exacting right. That doesn't mean the repubs shouldn't do a better job dispelling myths that Obama spun like that they hate immigrants. Romney did not lie in this election and Obama did and he did give out treats to all the groups. Unfortunately this country currently wants cotton candy, not a good meal. Problem is, those treats he gave out will soon turn to tricks; they will vanish.

    November 15, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  22. I. P. Freely

    Good riddance Romney. Don't let the door hit ya.

    November 15, 2012 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  23. Judge_Jamie

    Sounds like a sore loser to me.

    November 15, 2012 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  24. That Guy

    Romney proved his true personality, I personally as mexican, not latino voter, wishes I knew about the gifts, cause I woulda voted more 😛 so ,uch for mitt, robme...amd working with dems and Obama, he truly is the worlds biggest loser, He should try out for the show

    November 15, 2012 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  25. Anonymous

    He still sounds bitter. What a sore loser!!!!!!

    November 15, 2012 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
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