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. cincinnatidavid

    Mitt intended to gift only himself.

    November 15, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  2. steve

    The pot calling the kettle black. Romney gifted the rich and still has no clue as to why he lost. Loser. Liar.
    The Republicans had better return to intelligent moderation. Grover does not run the country, he just thinks he does.

    November 15, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  3. milopup09

    The only gift I got from Obama was the gift of seeing CITIZEN Romney going packing on election eve after his campaign went down in flames!

    November 15, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  4. Triple A

    What is the big deal? We all knew it was coming, there was just a surge under Obama. It is pretty obvious that the number of Americans with their hand out to the Government are now greater in number than Americans willing to work for America.

    November 15, 2012 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  5. betterdays

    Romney: correct.

    November 15, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  6. Angie

    I agree with Romney, gifts are things that everyone appreciate...

    November 15, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  7. Bill C

    President Obama ran the same type of campaign as a kid running for class president. Vote for me and I will give you free stuff. And people like free stuff.

    November 15, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  8. gramma nance

    You LOST Mitt...time to give it up! You're still campaigning on all the Repub lies!

    November 15, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  9. Victor

    Wow. Mitt *still* doesn't get it.

    November 15, 2012 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  10. Boooo

    What a sore loser! I hope the president withdraws his intentions to have a sit down with Romney.

    November 15, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  11. Jokesterer

    Santa!

    November 15, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  12. jdiggity321

    Here's a box of Kleenex to wipe up your tears, Mitt.

    November 15, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  13. Eric

    Dear Mr. Romney: When has ANY "gift" been a bad thing? Usually young people anywhere who prefer a life without WAR, and without DEBT, and without LAUGHING IN SOMEONE'S FACE or BEING LAUGHED AT....well, those people are the future of this place we call Earth, and we call home...So, you lost because you showed your ass....and, by saying that, I mean you represented belief in FEAR-MONGERING, HATE, HURT, and JUDGMENTAL....and SELFISH behavior....in that traditional and very out of date businessman style. As far as your future career?? Just be true to what you've shown the world: Be a snake-oil salesman....'cause you sure do love that money.....a shame you only "talk" about loving the country and all of the younger generation within it. NEWSFLASH: People will always give back when they are given gifts of anything in a hard time....you might have won....had you not been selfish to begin with.

    November 15, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  14. David

    Giving the voters something they want to spend tax money on, how revolutionary!

    November 15, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  15. imputt

    more late breaking news from hide it under the rug media

    November 15, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  16. Anthony

    I've been waiting to hear what he meant by "gifts" so that I had some context. And now that I do, couldn't the same be said for Romney should he have won? I mean, promising tax cuts/breaks for the very wealthy is a gift too, right? And couldn't the same be said for ALL politicians? Don't they all promise SOMETHING in order to win an election? What needs to happen is we the people need to start holding these politicians accountable for their campaign promises. Maybe then we'll get more honest and loyal lawmakers.

    November 15, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  17. JD

    Mr Romney you lost because the majority of the USA doesn't like you. Grow up and deal with it, cry baby.

    November 15, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  18. johnjo

    when will this guy get it ? Well if theer was any doubt about his true colour or intentions now you got it. BTW did this guy not apologise for the 47% remark ? goes to show you the apology was all ppolical. he truly meant what he said about 47% of American and based on his news comments its obvious he still does. Leopard cant change its spots

    November 15, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  19. javacq

    I thank God this narcissistic jerk was not elected president. God forbid we should have such a person running the world's greatest nation. Jindal is right, Romney & the GOP do not reflect what this country wants.

    November 15, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  20. Dave

    That comment by Romney, if he actually believes it, shows how truely shallow his thinking about his loss is.

    November 15, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  21. Publuis

    Shame Romney did not voice this criticism BEFORE the election or when Obama was offering the pay-for-vote plans. Jindal is right about going after all the voters. The GOP needs to the party to unite all Americans as being Americans. Let the Democrats play this class warfare. Let the Democrats be the party that wants to pit one American against another.

    November 15, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  22. Vance

    "Gifts to draw in votes" this guy (Romney) still doesn't get it.

    November 15, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  23. Kirk

    Wonder if its possible to have an honest conversation here without slinging mud about this. Are we in danger of having too much take relative to give and becoming a full fledged wellfare state. Will all future elections be decided by which party gives me the most over what's best for the country. You're thoughts peeps.

    November 15, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  24. jake90

    Not a very big Jindal fan, but he is right. If the Republican party wants to take back the White House, they need to win the votes of the "100%."

    November 15, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  25. Atlanta-GA

    While I respect Mr. Jendill, he is missing the bigger picture and Mr. Romney is right. This is not about care or concern for those, its about integrity and honesty. Obama's entire term as will the 2nd term is about how can I give you stuff and have you vote for me. Without getting into the weeds of discussion on immigration, for example, Obama started his "give me stuff" policy with Hispanics immediately upon taking office. Attack AZ for trying to actually do something to protect our boarders. Romney screwed the message on this one big time, no doubt.

    The moral of this story is this; Democracies endure until the citizens care more for what the state can give them than for its ability to defend rich and poor alike; until they care more for their privileges than their responsibilities; until they learn they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury and use the state as an instrument for plundering, first, those that have wealth, then those that create it."

    Thus starts the beginning of the end. While this point had been realized in American prior to Obama, Obama has escalated it 10-fold. This the end of the cycle and American Freedom:

    Why do the ages of our world’s greatest civilizations average around two hundred years? Why do they all seem to follow the same identifiable sequence

    1. Bondage to Spiritual faith
    2. Spiritual faith to courage
    3. Courage to Liberty
    4. Liberty to Abundance
    5. Abundance to Complacency
    6. Complacency to Apathy
    7. From Apathy to Dependence
    8. From Dependence back into Bondage

    Which sequence number do you feel the United States of America currently ranks? We just elected and went to number 8. Are you ready for Obama's third term? With Bomdage comes dictatorship. I hope I'm 100% wrong.

    November 15, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
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