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. Ed T Duck

    Watch all the 2016 republican presidential hopefuls distance themselves from the epic fail that was the Romney campaign. I guess Christie didn't get the memo that he was supposed to wait until after the election.

    November 15, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  2. tcaud

    I shudder to think this man could have been president. I pegged him a psychopath some time ago, and now I have the proof I wanted! Creative destruction, indeed!

    November 15, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  3. aformerrepublican just opened my eyes to how things really are....playing the race card now just makes you a sour loser....making your statement of "47%" even more believable.......should of just took the lost instead of blaming it on race or politics...i feel you just possibly alienated the "other" race to not vote for a single republican again

    November 15, 2012 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  4. absolutionis

    As a prospective President of the United States, Romney should not be playing yes-man and fabricating excuses for his donors on why the campaign failed. Romney should not shrink himself to appease these donors and explain why they were right all along and the "other people", the "minorities" are to blame.

    This is divisive and unamerican.

    It explains even more why the American people did not want Romney.

    November 15, 2012 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  5. Brad Simmons

    No, you lost because more than half of the country simply didn't want you for their President! Get over yourself. Gobsmacked when you didn't win because honestly, how could you lose? After all, you're Mitt Romney! Dude, get a reality check STAT!

    November 15, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  6. tom-ay

    a candidate appealing to their base? say it isn't so! Romney never did that, or any other republican with abortion, gay rights, or taxes... Democan, Rebublicat... they are POLITICIANS looking to get elected.....

    November 15, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  7. Tameka windsor

    i am a proud democrat i am so proud of my president and first lady michelle god bless you all and those beautiful young women you are raising keep Jesus first

    November 15, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  8. honey2000

    Republicans need to lose the racist comments that minorities are all poor, and just looking for free stuff. Shows that his "47 percent of Americans don't matter and are victims" comment was no gaffe but his true view. I am a Christian who voted for Obama. I believe in an America that takes care of ALL the citizens.

    November 15, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  9. Genghis

    Translation: Waaaaaah!

    November 15, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  10. skip

    If anything this shows how Romney is profoundly ignorant of the American people... and a blantant racist as well. Good riddance!!!

    November 15, 2012 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  11. R Burns

    We should all be very thankful that Romney wasn't elected! It was the intelligent choice by voters across the board that retained Obama, and rightfully so with such an opponent. Romney's remarks are very reminiscent of the type of defamation carried out by some higher ups in his faith when faced with defectors who are accused of having affairs and "excommunicated" after they have already left. Not the type of leader we, as a nation, can afford even with all the troubles Obama is charged with digging us out of.

    November 15, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  12. Rocky93

    How about Romney's promised gift of not raising taxes for greedheads.

    November 15, 2012 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  13. BPepik

    Our food-stamp community-organizer president Obozo summoned group of CEO’s to White House yesterday.
    He still doesn’t get it.. True, Obozo didn’t spend a single day in private industry or business – but gives such nice speeches from Teleprompter! How is it possible we are going broke and economy is growing slower and slower? Hmm LOL.

    Americans could have elected successful upbeat CEO to be the President. Now we have a food-stamp president with no clue.. Apparently 50% of voters are as stupid as Obozo is…

    November 15, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  14. Anonymous

    I can't wait for 2014

    November 15, 2012 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  15. David

    Maybe King Romney should put the blame where it belongs.......
    1. His big mouth making statements like this and the 47% of which I do not belong but felt he was an idiot saying.
    2. GOP alienating the "Ron Paul" Republicans at Florida's RNC.... They better remember for 2016! We will..... I know 22 other people who wrote in Ron Paul on their ballot or voted for Gary Johnson due to the dirty pool we would not be a part of.....

    November 15, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  16. Gallagher

    I can't wait for 2014

    November 15, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  17. Savonarola

    I think the fact Romney mentions the "gift of free contraceptives" as a reason young women would vote for Obama over him is all you need to know about why he lost the women's vote. I think the gift of the Democratic party is that women are not treated as citizen's of a lower station, beholden to the judgement of their male elders. The contraceptive comment shows the taint that Romney feels women who want to control their lives and health are amoral.

    November 15, 2012 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  18. LTisch

    I'm a white female & registered Republican. Romney campaign contacted me zero times. Obama's ppl called and texted and emailed & were aggressive w/ getting my vote. Romney was out-organized.

    November 15, 2012 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  19. 66Biker

    As long as all they are concerned with is getting "every single vote", they will never get mine. They need to remember that they are supposed to serve the people, not themselves. When they do that, they might just deserve getting elected to a public office.

    November 15, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  20. Bolaji09

    Go away already!

    November 15, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  21. Hannah

    Yeah, Obama gave the gift of controlling our own genitalia. As for gifts of policies-does he mean the platform that Obama ran on? The things those people believe will make their lives and THIS NATION a better union? Yeah, he gave us gifts. Thanks for pointing that out, Gov. Romney.

    November 15, 2012 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  22. Stepfordson

    Romney, this is embarrassing.

    Yes, we voted for Obama because access to college is important. Contraceptives are important too.

    I voted for obama because even though my family would likely fair better economically under a Romney presidency, it is only because the wealthy who bought the corporatation I worked for gutted my retirement pension and health care benefits. I worked for them. You did not.

    November 15, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  23. Phill

    OMG, what a sore loser. Trying to fault Obama for creating policies that will help people!

    November 15, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  24. Hong Tong

    I never received the gift boo hoo,. Someone please send me one! Lol

    November 15, 2012 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  25. JFritz

    It's nice to see a Republican calling for inclusion in his party. Even though I'm a Democrat, I don't ever want to see just one party rule in this nation, which was founded upon compromise and tolerance. It's time for the GOP to live up to its name and once again become a worthy adversary. Maybe it will take a growing minority within the party to help it grow up, but kudos to Jindal for calling out this whiny, poor loser.

    November 15, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
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