November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
6 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. DJG

    Holy cow!! This clown lost fair and square and he's STILL WHINING?!?!? The people have spoken! Get over yourself, Romney!!

    November 15, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  2. Anonymous

    He just calls it like it is, welfare, food stamps, free control. all are gifts from the government.

    November 15, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  3. DA

    Funny how Mitt forgets about the gifts given to rich friends on Wall St. and big oil by the Republican party over the past twenty years, such as the tax laws that allow the wealthiest to pay the lowest rates? If we the people don't take back control of our congress their will be revolution in this century.

    November 15, 2012 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  4. dubrats

    wait till his voters find out it ain't gonna happen....we are broke in this it?.....good.

    November 15, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  5. nedoc

    sounds like Jindal is busy wrapping future presents...The face of the new GOP....Santa Claus...

    November 15, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  6. unowhoitsme

    Romney just showing his real colors again...and another reason he shouldn't be President. He proves over and over again that President Obama was and is the right choice for America.

    November 15, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  7. markfromdover

    Romney gave the American people the biggest gift of all...his election loss!!

    November 15, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  8. DA

    In 1965 the average CEO of big business was payed 20 times his average worker. Today the CEO's are paid 230 times the same worker. it isnt redistribution of wealth, it the RETURN of wealth.

    November 15, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  9. Dave

    God forbid that the government should spend its tax revenue on the people that pay them, instead of handing them out to government contractors.

    November 15, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  10. Tired

    Don't forget the free cell phones the government is giving away. A cell phone is a luxury not a necessity. Millions of people lived just fine without them only 10 years ago.

    November 15, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  11. Keisha

    Republicans will never learn from their mistakes.

    November 15, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  12. Levis Valenzuela

    I am so glad this racist, ignorant, stupid man did not become preident of this great country. America need to continue going forward, not backward. I applaud Governor Jindal for standing up to bigotry.

    November 15, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  13. alf

    Romney is 100% right on obama tactics. Jindal took it personal,hes lost perspective and should join obama and the Dems. Loser. Call it what it is and speak the truth. Obamas a socialist welfare catering representive. Nothing more. Four more tears of living off the tax payers and having parties.

    November 15, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  14. Anonymous

    He still doesn't get it.

    November 15, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  15. crisward

    Don't our politicians get free health care in perpetuity?

    November 15, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  16. Pezguy

    Romney's true colors shw yet again – he is a petty and pathetic man hen he doesn't get his way. Our country dodged a bullet with this one

    November 15, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  17. mdreader

    Gov. Jindal...why on earth do you remain a Republican? The only truthful thing Romney said was that "[the GOP] is still so troubled by the past (that) it's hard to put together our plans for the future,"

    The Republicans created this troubled past all by themselves, and to be honest, to change anything to become attractive enough to win another election, they would simply need to become Democrats. We know that is not going to happen, so this party is pretty much done.

    November 15, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  18. Andy S

    Mr Romney, you sound like a sore loser. I expected you to accept your defeat more gracefully. Let us put all this behind and work together to build America.

    November 15, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  19. Art

    Romney makes pathetic dumb comments like losers often do. I'm a senior white male but never considered voting for Romney. He & his party are so out of touch with mainstream America. Did you notice he & Ryan lost every state they had current or past ties to – Mass, Mich., New Hampshire, Wisconsin. That's because the people that really know them don't trust them !

    November 15, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  20. Name

    Truth is truth, Obama bought this election with tax money and executive orders..

    November 15, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  21. Financial wizard

    Yet again, Romney is completely wrong. I voted for President Obama and the only thing he promised me personally is a tax increase, but I voted for him because am a strong believer in MATH. MATH, Mr. Romney, is why you lost the election and why tax increases are necessary.

    November 15, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  22. Eric

    classic Romney, once again further driving down the social divide between us. Of course some people need more assistance than others. We can not all be stock brokers, lawyers, senators, hedge fund managers........
    The entirety of the human race will never advance itself if we don't look out for each-other......
    I don't play favorites with my customers when they walk in the store...... I treat them the same no matter what clothes they wear or how they pay......

    November 15, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  23. gop4life

    sounds like the remarks of a sore loser and his 47% remarks again.

    November 15, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  24. Doc

    His true colors come out again. He obviously believes with his gut his earlier 47% comments. We are fortunate that he lost. what a pathetic man.

    November 15, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  25. gop4life

    we should have had santurm as our nominee

    November 15, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
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