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. Cindy

    Honestly, he just cannot give up on that "takers" philosophy! Makes me even more relieved that he didn't win. Kudos to Jindal-at least he seems to get it.

    November 15, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  2. Martin

    OMG, the government doing things to make lives better? Outrageous.

    November 15, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  3. Znod

    Can you imagine the lying, distorting, and flip flopping Jindal will engage in while pursuing every single vote? He will fit the Repub mold perfectly. And, he'll undoubtedly adopt the lunacy of the tee (hee) party idiotology; adopt the lameness of the religious goofballs that think that the Bible gives answer for some of our serious social issues and that God gives them personal directives, and continuously parrot the thoughts of the Repub morons that just say anything that might be damaging to the Dems without factual support or investigation.

    November 15, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  4. Dave

    Shows just how BIG a loser Romney actually is.

    November 15, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  5. Cap'n Rita

    How are those sour grapes tastin', Mitt? Very becoming. Still writing off almost 1/2 the country. What gifts did YOU offer? Bitterness, devisiveness, hate, dismissiveness. Fortunately, at least in the early light of post-election dawn, the rest of your party "gets it". You, on the other hand, are fading quicker than aforementioned light. Quit trying to stay relevant. You're just embarrassing yourself and anyone who wasted time on your campaign.

    November 15, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  6. Wade

    The tax payer money used to buy those gifts and the Liberal media protecting Obama and campaigning for him is why Obama won. That and the fact the America n people have to be the most stupid people on the planet to have elected Obama the first time and then after four years of complete and total failure reelect him. I mean wow!

    November 15, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  7. J. D. Hunter

    Apparently Romney and most conservatives interpret "pay premiums for" to mean "free."

    November 15, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  8. KJ

    Crybabies. It's over. Live with it. Maybe all these crybabies can move to texas. The whining we would hear coming from texas would sound like the howling wind

    November 15, 2012 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  9. Bill

    Sounds like R-Money is taking this loss hard, living in denial as to why he lost, which of course is because he was the lesser candidate and the majority of Americans rejected his party's extremist views.

    November 15, 2012 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  10. iBabble

    Romney can go back to living in his ivory tower, and completely out of touch with reality.

    November 15, 2012 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  11. Capn Kirk

    Will the Republican Party make the Darwin Awards this year? Sweet Irony.

    November 15, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  12. glance aside

    THIS story is MUCH more important than the CIA affair story. It shows both the way the Republican Party in general really thinks about the electorate (and certainly reflects the uber-rich view of the world Romney has, huh?) AND shows the internal strife that will history-makingly split it apart.

    November 15, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  13. onlyfacts

    These "groups" are just numbers to Republicans. They don't want what's best for these people, they just want their vote. If you say the same about Obama...you've been brainwashed by Fox "news".

    November 15, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  14. tepeters

    He is back to his true self-disdain for the 47%. The tape was right after all. Glad we dodged that bullet and rejected him.

    November 15, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  15. TheDudeAbides

    What a bitter, disillusioned, puffed up idiot.

    November 15, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  16. Name jp

    wow romnesia is still cryin over the landslide get over it these reps crap

    November 15, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. Reality

    Romney has lived in a privledged bubble world. Personal accountability has not been high on the agenda. He is starting to sound like Rove...

    November 15, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  18. babooph

    Hard to think Romney was dumb enough to think his gift to the 1 % would beat the 99% the opposition party went after...

    November 15, 2012 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  19. navajowkb

    The party is, ......still troubled by the past (that) it's hard to put together our plans for the future,"? You don't say. Troubled past of the doing the of "W"? I'd say. I just finished reading former President Clinton's book, "Back to Work"... and I for one can say "W" really screwed the country. And he knows it, which is why he has been in hiding for the past going on 5 years.

    November 15, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  20. Name

    I agree with Mr jindal that Mr Romney is completely wrong in making that statement about Mr Obamas Gift to middle class africans, poor, and Young. I wonder how come all Republican leaders from Congress and Senate keeping their mouth shut on this? How come they are not publicly denouncing this wrong comments.?

    November 15, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  21. DJ

    The Republicans are still clueless I see. They still don't understand why they lost and are still looking for excuses and someone to blame. I hate to tell them, it wasn't 'gifts' it was their message that people didn't like. It was the direction they were wanting to take the country they didn't like. People wanted the country to move forward, not backward. People didn't want the public treasury wasted on yet another bogus war or bloated military industrial complex looking to justify their bloat. People don't want the country run by a billionaire country club.

    November 15, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  22. Casey Collins

    Sore loser!

    November 15, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  23. graphicstyle7

    Wow. Gifts.

    Sounds like someone still does not grap that taxes are paid by the public.

    Er, derp, that's where the money COMES FROM, THE PEOPLE, THE PUBLIC.. And if the public wants to spend ITS money in a different way than Romney would like, that's not a GIFT. That's choosing who will spend OUR money the way WE want.

    November 15, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  24. USMCJock

    The GOP just doesn't get it. Minorities can see "fake" written all over the GOP.

    "Bauer said he believed social issues had helped the party net millions of evangelical and socially conservative voters since the Reagan era, and thought that these issues could appeal to Hispanics. "

    Really...and how did that work out for you bringing out the base? The GOP still lost because tacking far to the right and trying to win a general election from the far right, will never, ever, ever, EVER win. Anyone who knows anything about politics, knows you can win a presidential election from the polar opposite bases. You have to run from the center. The GOP is in shambles because you have to tack far to the right to get the base and then lie your way back to the center for a general election. Romney, and even McCain, tried this and failed. If winning from the very far right is the solution, why didn't Santorum or Perry win the nomination? Because the GOPs position on social issues is SOOO far out of mainstream, they are unelectable.

    November 15, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  25. Bob

    Gifts for the privileged do not equal relief to needy students, unemployed, and disenfranchised. Helping doesn't translate to gifting!

    November 15, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
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