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. kayclay

    You lose, Romney. No one's interested in your Monday morning quarterback stuff; it only reveals that you are out of touch with the American people– and THAT'S why you lost.
    Now, sit down. Please.

    November 15, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  2. George

    Imagine that, Mitt. Telling people you will help them gets them to vote for you. Amazing.

    November 15, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  3. Duke

    Romney, your tea-party inspired platform just scared off tons of voters. Eject the TP fanatics and rebuild the GOP into a relevant party.

    November 15, 2012 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  4. Clarke

    I agree with Jinhdal, I guess this goes back toi Mitt's remark about the47 percent, so Mitt really meant what he said about the 47 percent after all.

    November 15, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  5. Guest

    That is the absolute TRUTH.

    November 15, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  6. jvance

    Gov Jindal is right. This kind of remark can be counterproductive to the goal the GOP must pursue.

    November 15, 2012 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  7. Tom Paine

    Good for Jindal, but what could he expect from a guy who sees everything in life as a business transaction? It's astounding that Romney is now willing to blame his loss on anything except bad GOP ideas and his own milquetoast personality. Listen Mittens: You also got thrashed by something called "community organizing." You had no ground game, just lots cash. Who's laughing now?

    November 15, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  8. Kpuc

    OK I am confused. Romney is mad that Obama appealed to more voters' interests? I thought that was the point.

    November 15, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  9. GangName

    Romnry is a good person, accidentaly he loose

    November 15, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  10. Jeremy Tharp

    Yeah, because a 20% across the board tax cut is not a gift to anyone ...

    November 15, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  11. Reddog9500

    "Romney told the donors he wanted to stay involved in public policy in some form, but he did not provide any details."

    The country would be better served if Romney just went away quietly.

    He may have appeared gracious in his concession speech, but in truth he is nothing more than a sore loser.

    What he fails to understand as the reason he got fewer votes than McCain did 4 years ago is not because of Obama's "gifts". It was because even among registered Republicans he was seen as unacceptable. So, they just stayed home and didn't vote.

    November 15, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    First and foremost I will like to thank Governor Gindal for finally coming to his sensenses and dismissing Romney's outrageous and racist claim. Secondly I have to say thank God this man wasn't elected POTUS. Now that he lost the election, his true colors are resurfacing once again like they did when he made his outrageous 47% comment. Mr. Romney, I voted for President Obama but I did NOT receive any gifts from the President. I also voted for Clinton, Gore and Kerry and DIDN'T receive gifts from them either. Mr. Romney the likes of you Trump and Limbaugh are a disgrace and embarrassment to to our nation. Please go away.

    November 15, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  13. bilk7

    The American people rejected Romney and his ideas, policies and agenda and yet he still doesn't get it. He continues to say the wrong thing every time he opens his mouth. He hurt the Republican party this election season and if he continues to spout off with these ridiculous ideas, he will hurt the future of the party.

    November 15, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  14. vonn

    Get over it already you LOST!

    November 15, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  15. Danno

    Romney says he lost because Obama promised free health care and free birth control?? That's not even remotely true. This guy doesn't even understand the issues, at all. Republicans: Nominate quality people and you might win.

    November 15, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  16. mj

    Thank you Governor Jindal for recognizing and stating that the remarks from Romney sounded like sour grapes and are very unfair to President Obama and the folks he was pointing at. Mentioning "People making $30,000 to $35,000 a year so free health care would look pretty good to them " to a person like him making millions is demoralizing at the least.

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

    Obama did the same thing in 2008. That's why there was so much frustration with his administration. He didn't deliver. He campaigns that way. Give the gays what they want, the poor what they want, the young what they want, give women the right to murder their children, and scare the old with fears of social security abandonment. The Democratic Party has been running this way for a long, long time. Why so upset about it now. Who would you rather vote for; the party that says do what you want, no responsibilities, or the party that preaches financial and personal responsibility? It's an easy call for a little more than half the country.

    November 15, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  18. Arnold from Boston

    In stating this transcriptional approach to government Romney betrays a continued bias against the 47% and his hostility to Democratic party voters becomes clear once again. Calling it "gifts" rather than "dependency" does not change anything. He also conveniently does not refer to all the "gifts" received by groups which did vote for him. Romney concentrates on 3 voter groups: Youth, African Americans, and Hispanics, with a touch of that old welfare argument. What he leaves out is all the gifts to the middle & upper class "white" people who voted for him and who get even more in tax benefits/gifts and special laws. Like mortgage interest, IRAs, capital gains, college tuition, charitable giving, etc. Then how about all the gifts to businesses. AND all the gifts/grants given to states. Lastly, how about the gifts to disaster victims like FEMA & the assistance of the National Guard.

    So what Romney said was fuzzy math at best and very dishonest math at worst. It also betrays a completely cynical view of democracy in which elections are reduced to votes which are bought and paid for and/or bribed, and the political process is completely corrupt.

    November 15, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  19. Coffeehead

    Im a 52 year old white man who PROUDLY voted for Obama, I never received any "gift" This whole notion Is absolutly absurd coming from a man who Cheated, lied & dideverything he could to buy this election. Mitt Romney & the republican party have become a national embarassment !!!!

    November 15, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  20. Steve

    Why are they in denial about all the whites like me, and every other one I know, voting for Obama? This is not a racial issue. Everyone rejected Romney from all backgrounds, races, and creeds. Move on.

    November 15, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  21. lucky18

    We're hoping that the Republican Party does not listen to Jindal and the idiots continue this line fo thinking!

    November 15, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  22. Nurul Aman

    This is Mitt Romney's version 2 of his 47% comment he made in May 2011. This outrageous comment has no relevance to the real American politics that happened in 2012 Presidential election. This is the latest piece of his series of lies and divisive comments that clearly prove how fake and phony Mr. Romney is. I have been in Campaign trail for the President Obama in NH for months and my hundreds and thousands fellow canvassers in NH are highly educated professionals and young adults who never received welfare or favors from the Government. We never expect to receive any advantage from the government. We all volunteers worked day and night making phone class and knocking on the doors because we believe in President's Obama's policy as the right one to move the country forward. We did from the bottom of our hearts and spent money from our pockets in the campaign trail because we care about others who need better paying jobs with better education. Mr. Romney's ridiculous comment again reminds all of us how he is out of touch with American mainstream. His own state of he was bragging about his success in Massachusetts did not make him win in the Election. He lost his other two home states: MI and NH. Romney still lives in a fantasy world of lies, phony and condescending comments. He has become irrelevant for America.

    November 15, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  23. doh

    Geeze, Romney looses the election, and he STILL doesn't know when to shut up! What an idiot!

    November 15, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  24. mark

    hey Mitt why don't you go away .Or are you gong to do a speaking tour on losers .and there families

    November 15, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  25. ucannotbesirius

    Oh yeah, then how did Mitty-deal lose Vermont, Iowa or Rhode Island?

    November 15, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
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