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. Ricky Wigginton

    I remember a president who used gifts to win a second term. He sent every family in The United States a check for $600.00 with no way to pay for it,and it worked.

    November 15, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  2. CindyR

    Wow. As if the 47% remark wasn't bad enough? Now he's saying Obama practically bought the election off the backs of minorities and poor people? Whatever happened to dignity, gracefulness and not being a sore loser? Back in the seventies and earlier, no matter who won, no matter who was president, the office was respected, honored and backed by the one who didn't get elected to PULL TOGETHER the nation, not continue to divide it. Romney's almost racist and snarky remarks even if he didn't mean them to be, is making him look like a sore loser. We should be banding together, not pointing fingers.

    November 15, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  3. 47%

    this is why the GOP will never appeal to those looking for real leadership!!! there is none in that party.

    November 15, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  4. Nemcova88

    Romney further showing new levels of stupidity. Glad I voted for Obama.

    November 15, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  5. Almost Unemployed

    Weather you like the commits or not these programs are directed to these groups and are hand outs no matter the good intuitions behind them the buy votes. These programs will only add to our debt and will be $$$,$$$,$$$ out of control with in 10 years as all give away programs are. There are those who are in dire need of our help and 99% of the American People support helping them. The problem is when having a baby provides more money or cross the border, have a baby you get to stay. These are hand outs to. An abuse of our system but still a handout. Not the children’s fault but the parent’s intuitions to make more money or keep from being deported. Who among us have not witnessed many abuses of our good will.

    November 15, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  6. ladyvee

    I actually agree with Bobby Jindal for once. Just. This. Once.

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

    Wow, just, wow.

    November 15, 2012 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  8. Aja

    Well at least Mitt isn't being a sore loser. *eyeroll* Did he know he was on the record with those comments? This guy is unreal. So out of touch with reality and this just proves it yet again. I'm so thankful he lost. That's what I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving.

    November 15, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  9. Anonymous

    And, Romney offered huge tax cuts to the wealthy. Gifts?

    November 15, 2012 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  10. JR

    So he learned that if you have policies that the majority of people want, you get elected. That seems like something he should have learned a long time ago. It also seems pretty obvious, and reasonable.

    November 15, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  11. Oneslydragon

    Follow up, but come to think of it. Considering the lack of diverity that this party wants to represent, they do not deserve being a party.

    Guys, keep saying pregnancy via rape is God's will, that women can stop prgnancy via rape because the female body can prevent pregnancy if raped goes to the legal defense of most rapists, she wanted it, she enjoyed it. The list is sooooo long it is pathetic, pathetic people are stupid enough to even consider voting for these extremists.

    47%...

    So keep it up, you"s get what you deserve.

    November 15, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  12. CJ

    Hmmm...as opposed to the "gifts" he was offering to millionaires, religious nuts, etc. He still doesn't get why he lost the election.

    November 15, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  13. Steve From NH

    How did such a smart rich guy who did so well at Bain turned out to be such a loser? He came in second because he sucked as a candidate and the people who ran his campaign were by orders of magnitude less competent than the Obama people. We are extremely fortunate that he is not known as "President-elect" Romney and never will be.

    November 15, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  14. Yeahona

    Be careful for the little blue, green and red men waiting outside your office window Romney – they are going to steal your eye balls and replace them with ping pong balls. Hey sounds almost as stupid as your comments. You're the reason you lost – don't make stupid claims (oh wait, who am I talking too?)

    November 15, 2012 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  15. Leigh

    I don't see what the bid deal is honestly. Romney is simply stating the truth – Obama is planning on doing these things and he did get the votes because of these promises. Now, he wasn't upfront with all of America about these promises, but he did make them. Obama believes in socialist policies. Forgiving student loans, free healthcare and amnesty for illegal children? Why not, he can get the tax payers to handle it.

    November 15, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. Richard Miller

    Now you wonder why Mitty lost?

    November 15, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  17. David

    It had to be the gifts, it couldn't be because Romney was a flawed candidate that couldn't make a stand on any one topic for more than thirty minutes, or the fact that he came across as aloof and out of touch with the bulk of the populace. It had to be the giveaways.

    November 15, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  18. Oneslydragon

    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."

    Oh, please nominate him again, late nite comedy can use the material and no GOP candidate I see, except Christie, would have a chance.

    November 15, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Tax breaks for the top 2% are gifts Willard.

    November 15, 2012 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  20. KitVA

    If it was really about "gifts" as Romney calls them, why didn't he win the vote. Isn't a 20% across the board tax cut a larger "gift" than many of these policies that Romney was discussing?

    November 15, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  21. 5612jean

    Mitt Romney obviously didn't learn anything from his monumental lost. His poor choices are what cost him the presidency, starting with his choice of running mate. I guess it doesn't matter that people don't like what the Republican party stands for and what they have become. Romney lost even though the Republican party tried every dirty trick in the book and it still didn't help them. That should be a wake up call to the GOP.

    November 15, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  22. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Tax breaks for the top 2% are "gifts" Willard.

    November 15, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  23. jma

    How bout both parites work together so our country can actually be more productive by using and reforming these "gifts". By the way, those of us on the recieving end of extending medical insurance for our young adults who don't have jobs with such benefits are paying for that, along with our employers. I am very grateful for that being included in President Obama's health care reform. It's been a blessing, especially for those with chronic conditions. Amen

    November 15, 2012 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  24. John

    Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

    November 15, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  25. Almost Unemployed

    P.S. members of my family are some of the biggest abusers and yes I have reported them.

    November 15, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
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