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. Justin Collins

    These remarks type of remarks from Mr. Romney come as no surprise to me. All through out the campaign he showed himself time and time again to be a very arrogant and a bad looser. The “43%” were not promised any gifts, but were scared of having a president such as Romney that would remove all he could from them in order to pay for the tax cuts that were promised to the wealth. Most of the time I found my self asking witch Romney are you voting for, the public one that wants to help every one and every thing for you vote or the privet one who when speaking to a room full of people that are giving him lots of money promise to cut their taxes and make the lower 43% pay for it. I think the answer in clear as to where his elegance would have lied if elected, not with America, but with the money donors.

    November 15, 2012 03:19 am at 3:19 am |
  2. msgredenko

    Strauss and Howe predicted this in their 1997 book, "The Fourth Turning" which told us about the 80 – 100 year generational cycle that appears to take place pretty much on time through out history. They foretold a catacylsmic event after 2005 (the 2007 market correction). They said next we'd see the younger vote sweep out the old guard. It really is time Boomers moved aside to let others direct their destiny and I say this as a GenX/Boomer cusp individual myself.

    It doesn't surprise me the old white Boomer power structure doesn't see or understand what's happening. They don't appear to understand that a paradigm can only last so long before its downsides start to turn into real dangers and that the paradigm soon needs a flushing. But it happens every 80 – 100 years and we're right on schedule. I'm really happy Bobby Jindal has stepped up to start the clean up. I look forward to seeing how he positions himself as we go forward.

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

    Why didn't Jindal take a swipe at Romney when the video was released about the 47 percent remark...he just kept on campaigning as a surrogate for Romney. You see, what is fundamentally wrong with this party is that they really don't seem to care for anyone that is not "white". They are saying that they want to be more inclusive now, but any minority that vote for a Republican candidate is simply giving the GOP the knife to cut their own throat. They will never have my vote, although my husband and I are upper middle class, and we do not receive any form of welfare. I vote democrat because I know real people that need the government's help, like my sister who has had two strokes before the age of 39, and had to take an erly retirement.

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

    This whining and false accusations is exactly why we did not want mitt for our president. He refuses to accept responsibility for his own arrogance and stupidity. Hope he shuts up soon and goes back to kissing up to his good friends rush, trump, adelman, koch and rove.

    November 15, 2012 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  5. anon-i-mouse

    So Romney is saying he lost because the President actually had policies that people like, wanted and that made their lives better. Why would people vote for someone who promises to make their lives worse while further enriching his wealthy buddies and donors? Idiot! Thank the lord Obama won!

    November 15, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  6. NameJW

    That goes to show how cold he is,and don't have any concern for anyone,but his self. He been hanging out too long,with white idiots like rove,sean trumps,rush,and most of all alderson who think they can buy the vote for real. So long sucker!!!

    November 15, 2012 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  7. Drake

    Seems like Romney is calling himself a victim.

    November 15, 2012 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  8. Nitchka465mj

    The irony in Romney's comments would suggest that his pre-election promise of tax cuts to the rich should be interpreted as policy but not a gift to the rich?
    Free health care is a gift then as well not policy of the elected government?
    Romney has a bad case of post election stupidity, he should find help for this problem as he is not helping his party going forward.

    November 15, 2012 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  9. BPepik

    Our food-stamp community-organizer president Obama summoned group of CEO’s to White House yesterday. LOL
    He still doesn’t get it.. True, let's cut him a slack, he 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 clueless as Obama is…

    November 15, 2012 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  10. SoCalMom

    Thank goodness Romney isn't our president... He has no clue how important government is. The purpose of government is to provide infrastructure for a nation and a voice for it's people. How DARE it be denigrated as "stuff" for "takers". Americans are contributors to, and recipients the many benefits of citizenship in this amazing country. Thank goodness we don't have a president who views government's work as "gifts", but rather a president who recognizes the importance of a strong government and his responsibility to oversee its work on our behalf.

    November 15, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  11. SoCalMom

    President Obama offered America the "gift" of treating the middle class and working class poor as hard working Americans who deserve a voice and representation rather than as deadbeats he can't be bothered with. Even now, Romney is apparently incapable of acknowledging even an ounce of responsibility for why he was not chosen.

    November 15, 2012 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  12. Dagenda

    In contrast, Romney's "gifts" would have been to millionaires, billionaires, corporations, Big Oil, insurance companies, banks and the stock market crowd. You know, the "job creators". Ha Ha

    November 15, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  13. Monica

    Sounds like sour grapes and a lot of BS to me! I'm a white middle-aged woman who used to be a Republican. I voted for Obama..and certainly not because of any "gifts !" What an ABSURD rationale. Glad Romney didn't win. Now he's showing his true colors!

    November 15, 2012 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  14. Obama2012

    Poor mitt is just a cry baby

    November 15, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  15. gajfreeman

    So, if Romney was elected all of those people who donated millions weren't going to receive a "gift?" Like a tax break or possible repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act? Aren't those gifts to the wealthy? Former Governor Romney, you look like such a sore loser. Of course winning elections require being popular with more voters than the other guy. How can you be so naive and obtuse?

    November 15, 2012 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  16. Larry

    Eh so who cares what Mitt thinks. Hes a loser and always will be.

    November 15, 2012 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  17. Yohan

    Question how did Republican party come to this? Blaming this and that is not going solve anything. They need to show real leadership and vision so that all people irrespective of age, ethnicity etc will march with them.

    November 15, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  18. Nate

    Keep digging that hole a little deeper.

    November 15, 2012 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  19. Art

    Romney still railing about the 47%, just more bitter.

    November 15, 2012 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  20. Willie Walton

    Gifts!? GIFTS!? Where's my Nexus 10, Obama!?

    November 15, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  21. Bill Davis

    All politicians pass out gifts, that is who they get elected, and continue to get re elected.

    If it was on Performance and Production both of them would have been gone a long time ago..

    November 15, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  22. Double D

    I am a black woman Mr. Romney. The only gift that I received is the freedom to get up out of my bed and go to work.

    November 15, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  23. SSE

    Yeah, and tax cuts for the rich were not "gifts" for the Republican voter base. Romney (and most Republican politicians) needs to pull his head out of his @ss.

    November 15, 2012 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  24. Dan

    Apparently Mitt's gaffs weren't just for the campaign. Here he goes again, belittling folks by saying they receiving little "gifts" like affordable health care, student loans that don't break the bank, and maybe some extensions on unemployment because greedy CEOs like Pappa John made 125% profit during the last four years but can't afford to hire anymore workers. Yes Mitt, compared to your whopping $250 million in the bank, these things seem like little gifts, but to most of us they make life livable.

    November 15, 2012 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  25. SSE

    Yeah, and tax cuts for the rich were not "gifts" for the Republican voter base. Romney (and most Republican politicians) needs to pull his head out.

    November 15, 2012 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
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