November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
5 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. SN

    Amazing how MR is determining the root cause for the POTUS' reelected victory. This statement of giving gifts in terms of loans forgiven, health care for younger people till they are 26 years of age and contraceptives for women, and latino voters on the dream act is only going to get him into a heap of trouble or get others who support this view into greater trouble because it means:

    a – All women who voted for BO are using contraceptives.

    b – All African Americans that voted for him are lacking in health care, and ability to pay for college expenses.

    c – Latino population that is legally in this country has all other illegal relatives to benefit from.

    So is this what MR is concluding and if so, he is on a slippery slope for his post election political career. If he is not saying this then what exactly is he inferring by saying gifts to this electorate?

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  2. James

    Mr. Romney, someone once told me "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging." You lost, get over it. I didn't get any gifts from Obama, I voted for him because he is a better representative of my ideals than you are. That is not to say that Obama is by any means perfect, but I believe he is making an honest effort to serve the people and the country and move us forward. I don't expect everyone to agree, and in fact I'm glad that there are those with different views, it helps keep things in check, but these excuses are just lame.

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. SeattleMike5

    What a load of garbage. Talk about "gifts" - what about that "tax break" George W. Bush gave Americans while we were still trying to pay for his two wars? We're still paying for that "gift" to this day.

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. Art Gregoire

    Sour grapes on a sour puss from a sour candidate. The election is over. He won. You lost. Sorry for Romenys poor 1% that will have to pay additional taxes come the end of the year. OHHH those poor rich people

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  5. Justin

    So pretty much... Obama ran an extremely successful campaign.

    November 14, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  6. w1nluv

    Wow, sounds like sour grapes and stereotyping by painting whole demographics with one swath. However, if this was the case, why did Obama get 71% of Asian votes? What was promised to them? Hmm no explantation for that huh Mitt? Yeah no wonder you lost.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. nolimits

    You know why he took 60% of the young vote? Because we are smart enough to realize when we are being lied to. Congrats Mr. Romney.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  8. Patty

    Oh right...President Obama was re-elected because he made some policies that are actually good for the country majority. Go figure. While the Republican Party is "re-grouping" they should shut their mouths.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  9. tracy

    Whyd did 70% of asians vote for obama ? what's romney deep insight into that ? if he is so insightful he should have saw this loss coming

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  10. Kim Christison

    The largest gift Obama gave was to the entire country: the defeat of Romney and the Republican party.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  11. Woa

    Too bad it took MR this long to realize what President Obama did. Too bad he did not see it when it was announced and denounced it. Heck yeah! If I'm making under 40k and got a break for my health bills, I would go for it.
    But too bad MR and the RP did not see that their policies, the outrages remarks about abortion and the poor, the ever-going derision about whatever the Obama administration did and countless other things, in fact did cost them the elections.
    In order to lay blame, look yourself in the mirror and then tell yourself the truth. Once you manage to do that, perhaps you may accept that you did not make the right choices. That i for MR to reflect on.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  12. Rickapolis

    Like Mitt has any credibility.

    November 14, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. nyetaryan

    Romney's "explanation" for his defeat reeks with the conventional, long-standing country club BS that circulates among a certain class of largely white men. They deny the genuine perception that the GOP is out of touch and in lock-step with the already privileged and pampered rich, many of whom benefit from a rigged game, whether in the world of financial services, the inequitable tax code, or the congeries of tax benefits and subsidies showered on their decadent - indeed digusting - class. What a haughty, disconnected class. They have more in common with the ruling elites and corrupt Russian plutocrats than they do with ordinary Americans of all races, ethnicities, and classes. Reading this nearly made me vomit.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  14. Cooda

    Mitt Romney – what a clueless dork! And borderline racist (maybe not so borderline!) But I do hope that he and his ilk in the republican party continue sticking their heads up their...uh.. in the sand so that their brand of "conservatism" dies right along with THEIR chosen demographic. Bobby Jindal is right – stop being the party of stupid. If that's possible.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  15. Benjamin

    Romney, you know what gifts Obama has promised to those who voted for him? Healthcare. Higher education. Equal pay for equal work. Ending two wars. Jobs. Clean, renewable energy. Keeping an America united under one flag. Who else get's to take advantage of these things? The people who voted for YOU.

    What did your party vow to do? Exactly the opposite.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  16. utjimw

    .I voted for President Obama because this country deserves someone with the kind of integrity this man brings to the office.
    I also voted against the policies that the republicans were offering. These were old rehashed Bush era mistakes that would not have created jobs and would have landed the total responsibility of repayment of the debt right on the backs of the middle class. The people that have been working the hardest but losing ground while the top 2 % have seen record increases to their net worth. I don’t want to see this country run by the wealthy oligarchs.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  17. Kevin Barbieux

    What remarkable is that Mitt was himself offering a 20 percent tax break for everyone – talk about bearing gifts.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  18. Mary

    I am so SICK of this asinine post-election bs. These angry, frustrated, BEATEN jerks who keep trying to insist that the people who elected Obama are all minorities, indigent, Gov't-aide seeking deadbeats, well take a close look at me and the MAJORITY of my VERY educated WHITE, hard-working, tax-paying friends and colleagues because gues what?!?!?! We all voted for Obama and we pay HUGE amounts of tax every year. In fact, I pay more tax by myself then probably MOST of the narrow-minded, half-illiterate, gun-toting cross burners that you see making the incredibly IGNORANT statements that THEY are tired of supporting all the lazy welfare recipients. GROW UP.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  19. jane

    please ohhhhh please tell me what-where are the gifts???

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  20. Scott

    Romney lost because of Ryan and the social baggage the GOP has pickup. The GOP needs to stop trying to legislate the religious beliefs of the extreme fringe and go back to being the fiscal responsible party, and less government party, but not that crazy Grover Norquist, or Tea Party way either.

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  21. Observer

    Rats from a sinking ship,and the Captain of course is afraid to go down alone, taking as many of them as he can. Sad Sad Sad

    November 15, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  22. xx4zu1

    Well maybe Mitt learned something it's better to give back to the actual voters than to take from a few corporate sponsors.

    November 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  23. ron

    And Mitt offered them nothing....I would vote for someone who offered me hope, at least. Mitt offered the rich gifts too....BIG BIG BIG BIG gifts. Obama offered Hope for a better life. God Bless Democracy and the USA!

    November 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  24. Brian Hartman

    I don't think Obamacare was an election year stunt. After all, it didn't happen in 2012. That part of what Romney said is absurd.

    Having said that, I think you'd have to be blind to say Obama wasn't pandering. In 2012, we had both the end run around Congress to implement a de facto DREAM Act, and his announcement that he supports gay marriage. (I don't believe for a minute that Biden's remarks were off the cuff. I think the whole thing was orchestrated for him to announce it then.) Taken separately, you could say that neither of these things would put him over the top, but taken together, it was obviously a "shore up the base" strategy.

    Of course, one of the perks of being president is you can do that kind of thing. I can't fault him for it, but that doesn't mean Romney was wrong on those points.

    November 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  25. Andy

    You didn't even win Florida, a republican leaning state. Do you still want to blame that on ethnicities and young people? I thought Paul Ryan was supposed to get you Wisconsin as well.

    November 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
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