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. Steve Giles

    Hey Mitt, would you like a nice chunk of cheddar to go along with that whine?

    You lost, act like you've been there before.

    November 15, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  2. John Doe

    Yeah, how dare he offer "gifts" like health care to people making under $35,000 and cannot afford it. Doesn't he know that's un-American?! Good, patriotic Americans know that the only acceptable gifts are tax cuts to the 1% and tax exemptions for the transnational corporations. /end_sarcasm

    November 15, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  3. Charlie H Jones

    When you tell 47 per cent they don't matter, what do you expect? It made me vote and bring more friends to the polls! I guess his tax cuts for the rich were not "gifts" for the rich! THIS STUFF KILLS THE GOP!!! He was a weak choice who had a poor understanding of everyday people!!

    November 15, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  4. Dejavu65

    These GOP guys will never get it. America is a diverse population. Stop trying to put everyone down that does not look like you!!....and don't think you can pretend and pander to minorities votes for the next election cycle it won't work!!!

    November 15, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  5. Jason

    "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."

    I'm between the ages of 18 and 29 and I really don't think the reasons he mentioned had much influence on him not getting the youth vote. Like the older generations, the main thing we care about is the deficit. Those of us who have a clue are sitting back right now and observing the train wreck of a country we stand to inherit from our parents. We're not happy about it. If most of us were given an option, we'd have likely all voted for Ron Paul as he was the only one legitimately concerned about this. Instead we were left to choose between Romney, a contradicting enigma of an individual who never convinced us he understood where we were coming from, or Obama who we have observed for 4 years already running around trying to avert the collapse of this or that and sometimes missing the mark (the stimulus). So when given a choice between a mystery box with a "?" on it (Romney) or a box that looks a little beaten up but has a window on the front that shows you exactly what you're going to get (Obama)...it was a no brainer. In a couple more years all of us will be of age to run for House and Senate seats. If the current office holders cant figure it out we'll simply come in and take their chairs from them and do it ourselves. Its almost time for the torch to be passed willingly or be taken by force.

    November 15, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  6. dmaak112

    Romney's comment sounds more like a poor loser. Maybe if he and his llk paid their fair share of taxes and actually lived up to their hype as "job creators" or did not try to intimidate their employees to vote Republican, Romney would be the president.

    November 15, 2012 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  7. Rationalintn

    The guy just doesn't get it.

    November 15, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  8. 4 More Years

    Mr Romney I am glad that you have finally come to terms that you will never be POTUS, I find your comments insulting and divisive, and this speaks volumes to why you suffered such a humiliating loss, glad to see you didnt see it coming, but the American people sure did !!

    Obama 2012 !!
    Hilliary 2016 !!

    November 15, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  9. TBR

    Thank you Mitt – for reassuring the American public why you were second best candidate on the ballot.

    November 15, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  10. Dano

    Obama "gifts" to minorities & women were no different than the "gifts" Romney promised to the wealthy in the form of lower taxes. Romney needs to face the fact that Obama ran a better campaign, was perceived as more believable & sincere, and his platform was more inclusive and appealed to more Americans than Romney's and the republicans, so he got his ass handed to him on election day. His whining makes him sound pathetic.

    November 15, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  11. MC

    Every single thing Romney said was TRUE. The takers out voted the producers.

    November 15, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  12. ray

    Robmey shouldn't go away mad, HE SHOULD JUST GO AWAY !! LOOSER!!!

    November 15, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  13. DD

    Like tax breaks for the rich weren't a gimmee, just sayin.

    November 15, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  14. Hup hup

    The republicans give out gifts too....

    November 15, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  15. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    hey jindel, the truth and fact of Romneys statement has merit and the truth hurtsd, its all that government checks that got the wanna be reelected.

    November 15, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  16. Craig in Pa.

    No Mitt...your plastic personality and chameleon like qualities lost the election for you...go home and cry and I am sure you will give it another try in 2016...which will end the same way for you...loser!

    November 15, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  17. Vader

    And thus, boys and girls, an election was lost. Romney's comments are precisely why the American public rejected him and his party as they clearly show how out of touch he is with the real reasons President Obama is awaiting the start of his second term, and Mitt is just another hack has-been. As long as the Repubs continue to sing from this sheet of music, the only ones who will listen will be the groupies.

    November 15, 2012 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  18. ma

    Romney's true colors are showing! He was raised in a life of privilege, and now he shows just what he thinks of America.I cringe at the thought of this liar becoming president. Many would have suffered, at least the 47 %. Maybe the Republican Party will find a more suitable candidate next time. This guy is wacked.

    November 15, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  19. Soar Loozerz?

    C'mon mitt! I really thought that you were better than this type of krap! Obama won, which means that you lost. He didn't "buy" votes as you suggest. He proved that the social values of the GOP are not what young people want today. You are proving that your nick name should be Mitt-Witt. So sad......

    November 15, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  20. Sue Pearlative

    This can be filed right alongside the 47% talk. Both show that Romney views various groups that are integral parts of America, as outside groups. And both show his extreme unsuitability to serve as president of all Americans.

    November 15, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  21. prouddem

    More lies and sour grapes from the losing team. Keep on misleading your willingly mislead. I voted for Obama and I work everyday. No gifts here just common sense and the ability to see through the right wing fringe rhetoric. If repubs keep this up they will never see the inside of the white house again.

    November 15, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  22. Tom Mulroney

    Stuff it, Rommey.

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

    “We didn’t leave anything on the field,” one donor on the call told CNN.

    Maybe that's why your candidate lost? You're supposed to leave it ALL on the field, nothing left.

    November 15, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  24. R68

    Wow! Perhaps he and his party just weren't the right choice? Sounds to me like denial. I don't get anything free from voting for Obama, yet I felt having such a right wing conservative group running the country was even scarier. The US is the only country that doesn't offer Universal Health Care, yet he turns it into the above comment? All I can say is Wow!

    November 15, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  25. not your average white guy

    Dear Mitt
    I'm 64 (thats more than 26), live in Massachusetts(where you live), Im white (that means Im not Hispanic/African American), and the only gift I got was not having you and your white old man radical philosophy in the WH . Highly intelligent and highly educated white baby boomers with substance(my friends) all franticly worried about your potential to unravel the delicate balance of power at the Supreme Court. We all voted for BO not you,. Its time to listen to a different news source, Mitt and hopefully Obama' gift to you will be a much bigger and fairer tax bill.

    November 15, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
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