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. Doug in SC

    This article stands as a reminder that Romney is an elitist, that he has disdain for a vast majority of Americans, and that he is a sore loser. Actually, he's just a loser.

    November 15, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  2. guesswho22

    Romeny has been making good use of his "gifts" from the government. The 15% capital gains rate, the fact that taxpayers picked-up the tab for shortfalls in employee pension he often devised when taking-over companies with Bain Capital, tax loopholes by the scores that only the rich can take advantage of, forgiven tax obligations by numerous cities where his company did business, hoarding cash in offshore bank accounts to escape taxation. Hmmm those gifts should be eliminated, thanks for reminding us Romney. Sour grapes can be useful after all...

    November 15, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  3. David Witcraft

    I keep thinking Romney would be a good independent candidate in four years, if he would just shut up! If the GOP nominates someone like Huckabee and Clinton wins on the Blue side, there will be a chunk in the middle who are impressed by neither. Romney has to realize the election is over and stop whining. He also needs to stand on his record in MA instead of running from it! He also needs to learn that nothing is ever off the record and stop making stupid statements that he wouldn't put in a press release intentionally.

    November 15, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  4. hyte

    Romney is spot on, Obama bribed himself into another presidency

    November 15, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  5. steffn

    If that's the depth of Romney's analysis on why he lost the election, it's a good thing he's not President...

    November 15, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  6. sly Iwotor

    Mitt you lost because you were hiding your tax returns. I did not trust you for that move.

    November 15, 2012 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. BobT.

    This is proof that Mittens is not a team player. He's already undermining their chances for 2016.

    What did in his campaign was his constant lying and the 47% comment. He never connected with the common American. That and he totally underestimated the President's ground game/

    This is all sour grapes and arrogance . Go home to your millions Mittens and enjoy your family.

    November 15, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  8. Dennis

    This is exactly why the Republicans just don't get it – and definitely why Romney never got it. Romney-Ryan as well as Obama made this a campaign about which direction should they take the country! A clear choice Romney said. Now that we have made that choice, he insults us all again and isn't man enough to accept any kind of truth. I am in the 1% and I am appalled at lack of depth and understanding that this party has toward Americans – I would say toward African Americans and Latinos (their euphemism for "urban voters") – but then I would be missing women, gays, the elderly, college students, our servicemen ...

    November 15, 2012 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  9. Andrew

    I'm sorry Romney but I didn't vote for Obama because he was offering "free stuff". I voted for him because I thought he managed to turn the tides on the slump the economy was heading before he was elected and I believe his plans were in the best interest for the country and not just the top 1% which looked to be what Romney was most interested in pleasing.
    Outside of the usual fed vs state jurisdiction crap and your economic you also seemed to just mimic'd whatever Obama was going to do so I had 2 options.
    The economic plan that made sense or the economic plan that needed way more information to make it mathmatically feasible.

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  10. Ding

    Poor Mitt, I think this was the first time in his life he could not buy something he wanted...

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  11. Scott

    Wow...This is actually how he thinks. Amazing, he "doesn't get it" to that great a degree. How lucky are we that we didn't elect him? Holy crap.

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  12. Amber Springs

    Oh no, Romney... now you're just embarrassing yourself.

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  13. john

    Instead of giving lame excuses for their loss, Romney and Ryan will be better served by blaming themselves for running a not so good campaign.

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  14. BWooster

    I assume since Romney is clinging to his 47% stance, even after all that has been said and done, that it would never occur to him President Obama supported those changes because he believes they're the right thing for humanity. Cretin.

    November 15, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  15. lagunalady27

    This is just pathetic. He is even more clueless than he appeared when he tried to make the $10,000 bet during the debates. So sad.

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  16. Allan Hanlon

    Romney is simply stating the truth. No one can dispute that Obama is buying off his base with free stuff. Just as others would correctly argue that Romney is buying off his base by offering tax cuts. However, it doesn't seem right that all someone needs to do is vote in order to obtian goverment benefits at the expense of the 50% who actually pay taxes. This is wrong and seems impossible to correct. This is why the Republicans have such a difficult future. Romney should have won in a landslide if this election was about the economy; exit polls showed this. But Obama did a fantastic job making this election about "Gifts" to Latinos, Young People, and the Poor. And they voted in mass. This strategy won him the election with no mandate.

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  17. Bill T

    It is sad that the Republicans and Democrats are the only parties getting votes. Maybe voters are taught by places like CNN and Facebook that they have to vote for one or other and that a third party candidate is pas-say. Hopefully next election cycle we will give another party 5% or more of the vote so this two party bickering wont be so prominent and that debates are not publicized like boxing matches.

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  18. Lucifer

    Yep, Obama gave me an election gift too. The gift was NO ROMNEY!

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  19. LF137

    I wonder if any of Mr. Romney's proposed policies gave any "gifts" to high income individuals???

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  20. tarheel1110

    This simply shows how little Romney cares about the average American. He is exemplifying the stereotype of businessmen as men who only respect the almighty dollar. The majority of voters saw him as someone uncaring of them and their families and judged him unworthy of being President of this Country.

    November 15, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  21. SkepticalOne

    And that was nothing at all like the gifts I was offering to you rich people...

    November 15, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Really? It was "gifts" that cost Romney the election? It wasn't the fact that every time he opened his mouth another pound of stupid fell out?

    November 15, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  23. BWooster

    Even Paul Ryan says Obama won "fair and square".

    November 15, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  24. Alaskan Voter

    Unbelievable how wrong Romney is. He is just exhibiting the behavior that lost him the election.

    This wasn't about contraceptives or 'free stuff'.

    Accusing the people who voted for Obama as being 'bought' will cause the Republicans more grief down the road.

    If you want me to vote for you, do not attack me.

    November 15, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  25. Mark Blastov

    Romney is totally right, though, in his remarks. Obama and his cronies won the election based on offering the most hand-outs they could possibly offer to the groups that they were targeting. It was easy money for the libs to do this – young women, immigrants, and the younger crowd all make up the most inexperienced and frankly, quite often, dumbest demographics on the planet. Stupid wins sometimes, unfortunately. ::: shrug :::

    November 15, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
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