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. Seriously?

    You lost. Get over it. Go away.

    November 15, 2012 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  2. Daystar

    mitty, you are just as stupid after the election as before. it is a pleasure not to hear your voice or see you picture on the news. Please leave !

    November 15, 2012 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  3. Name Tall Tom

    Yes Romney put everything on the table. He absolutely alienated the Ron Paul supporters. I wonder how many points that cost him. I did not vote. I stayed home. So...Did you really not need us? How many of us stayed home? LOSERS!!!

    I wil not ever vote for Republicans or Democrats again. After hearing the Republican base, yes those hypocrites, boo the Golden Rule during one of the Primary Debates I have found that most Republicans are merely Religious Hypocries. I will NOT SUPPORT EVIL...NO MATTER WHAT LIE THAT THE REPUBLICANS WANT TO USE.

    November 15, 2012 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  4. stormchaser 101

    Romney just doesn't get it.It's the message and the messenger.usa foward not back to the 1950's

    November 15, 2012 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  5. G-Ball

    Shame, he still doesn't have a clue!! I hope his comments do not reflect the entire Republican party. If so, they should look to lose many more elections.

    November 15, 2012 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  6. Michael Hadley

    Let's see: he insults nearly half of the American population for "taking" from the government in the worst recession since 1929 and wonders why they don't vote for him. Major candidates within the party come up with ridiculous statements revived from the 1950s, and he wonders why people didn't vote for him. He and his wife make statements that show very clearly they don't understand the majority of the population's daily struggles (Mitt and I were poor as students because we only had $300,000 plus in stock dividends and sales to live on) and he wonders why we didn't trust him to think of us in the White House. The only way the GOP can survive is to think about the entire population not just the upper 10%.

    November 15, 2012 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  7. Gary

    These latest Romney comments only prove that he was more than serious about his 47% comments and would not have been the President for all of the American people, I've been saying from the beginning of the campaign that everyone always gets what is coming to them, and Romney got his.

    November 15, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  8. Darrell

    The biggest gift American got was not electing you President.

    November 15, 2012 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  9. Frank

    Mitt, is all wrong and that's why he will never be President of anything bigger then a company he buys. As for President Obama! The only gifts he gave was the gift of working for a fair economical playing field for all of us! The gift of working to issure rights for half of the people in the country to make sure their own bodies and the gift of equal heath care coverage and opportunities. The gift of compassionate immigration reform. The gift of caring for our returning vets. The gift of working to improve our infrastructure. The gift of trying to preserve SS – Medicare – Medical. Are these the gift Romney is complaining about? Hey Mitt Romney, you and the GOP are the real gifts that keeps giving. The knuckleheads at Fox and your leader negative and evil genius Limbaugh WILL continue to repeat this racist nonsense and further alienate Women, Minorites and the Youth of this country. Keep up the good work and the democrats will retake the house in 2014!

    November 15, 2012 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Well, the truth finally comes out about this guy.

    November 15, 2012 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  11. Team Weed

    HA ! Truth finally comes out about this guy..... What a sore loser..

    November 15, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  12. Terry

    Too bad Romney wasn't elected to be our President. He has the guts to tell it like it really is. Thanks to BO, we working ppl get to foot the bill for all the Trillions the 75 % are sucking up. We will witness the downfall of America, thanks to "Gimmie my schit" Dems.
    You ppl are leaches.

    November 15, 2012 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  13. OhioConservative

    Here ya go:

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    November 15, 2012 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  14. Daniel

    He is still living in the fox news bubble and watching the same show-Sean Hannity and Rush.

    November 15, 2012 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  15. Sam

    Glad we can see Romney's true colors.

    November 15, 2012 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  16. Former Romney Supporter

    ....it's simple to understand why Romney lost. It had nothing to do with what Obama did and everything to do with Romney insensitive comments towards many Americans. His lack of empathy for their struggles would have resulted in greater division in this country!!

    November 15, 2012 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  17. NameGhost

    Good policies are gifts? The implication is that Obama bought the election. What did Adelson and Koch try to do? Linda McMahon? How about the simple truth- Romney ran an out of touch, exclusive campaign bankrolled by selfish interests. Sounds pretty bitter to me

    November 15, 2012 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  18. ken

    Romney is a bragging kind of guy. His intemperate comments in London about the Olympics were basically, no one could possibly do it as well as me. I can create 12,000.000 jobs guaranteed. Another egocentric epistle. Mitt's a poor loser.

    November 15, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  19. David

    " For the first time, women and minorities will outnumber male Democrats in the House of Representatives."

    I think you meant "outnumber white male Democrats" unless all minorities representatives are also women.

    November 15, 2012 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  20. Notadolt

    Michigan Republican governor and his Republican legislature gifted retired pensioners on fixed incomes with high new taxes, then gave rich supporters new tax breaks and loophole. One more reason Republicans are becoming increasingly irrelevant...

    November 15, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  21. Carol Strickland

    Once again, Romney reveals the essential problem with his old, outdated party-they do not know what the issues are!! Calling critical issues in this country "gifts" shows that he still "doesn't get it"!!!!! When will they learn? It seems a futile hope; let's keep hoping that the Republican party can re-group and get a handle on what some of the critical issues are for most of this country. Only then will they be able to participate as intelligent members of the leadership of the US.

    November 15, 2012 05:37 am at 5:37 am |
  22. watchdogg2007

    Could you imagine this pompous ass being our POTUS? I'm glad it was even close. That would be worst than Sarah Palin being POTUS.

    November 15, 2012 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
  23. bigdakine

    Let the carnage begin... and pass me the popcorn..

    November 15, 2012 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  24. ladyd

    What is sore loser.....how's making college affordable for everyone without being buried in debt a gift?
    How is making sure that everyone has a fair chance to see doctor a gift?
    This man's lack of compassion and class is the real reason why he lost.

    November 15, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  25. mercury44

    It's not that Obama's "gifts" won votes, Mitt (you certainly made alot of promises too). Instead, you lost because your incessant lies lost votes.

    November 15, 2012 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
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