November 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET
5 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)

    Gov. Jindal, I respect you, but – until you've walked in the shoes of a presidential candidate, please hold your criticism – Romney has a right to his perspective after the brutal campaign he just experienced, and the hard hitting loss. And much of what he is saying is true. It doesn't sound great because it isn't. Obama did target his voters and make grandiose promises – that I personally don't want to pay for. It's certainly not going to come out of his personal wealth. He's a master manipulator – and the people fell for it. God help us all.

    November 15, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  2. FFBIV

    So it was "gifts" that caused Romney to lose the election, and not the weight he lost every time he opened his mouth and a pound of stupid fell out?

    November 15, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  3. KurtinStGeorge

    Hey I voted for Obama, where's my gift? I feel cheated. So Romney reveals his true self, again! I'm not surprised at anything this tool said.

    November 15, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  4. MikeinNM

    Sore loser. QYB.

    November 15, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  5. David

    Romney must face the reality that he had no plan to fix anything, other than to use the old rights way of fixing stuff, like trickle up economics, more military spending, and slicing and dicing people that can ill afford it. Been there done that, and it does not work, except for maybe people like Reagan...

    November 15, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  6. dc3gal

    Yeah, uh huh, see now? He's losing his FB fan base and now he slams Obama like this? I guess he really didn't mean his words at the podium the night he lost the election. He's a hypocrite big time and showing those true colors now. this is just tip of the iceberg and what I saw while I was a member of that church. So glad I walked away when I did.

    November 15, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  7. 4Him

    What a clueless sore loser. The is classic sour grape rationalization

    November 15, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  8. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Romney is deluded. He thinks that the Republicans lost the election, not because they denigrated minorities of every kind over and over, nor because they were on the wrong side of every woman's issue that came up and not because they had a consistent and bigoted party wide disregard of anyone who was not straight, white, Christian or Jewish, rich and ultra-conservative.The Republicans lost because their Party has narrowed their base every election since Nixon's first victory while the Democrats have become more inclusive during the same time period.
    Unless the Republicans drop their pandering to the so-called Tea Partiers they will continue to decline until Republicans are a bad memory in the minds of whatever conservative group ends up replacing them.
    It is the 21st Century not the 18th. Get in step with the times or get out of the way and let the future come in.

    November 15, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  9. seeingitself

    What utter rubbish. Romney is so shocked about losing the election that he feels he has to find any crazy excuse for the failure of his own badly run campaign no matter how surreal or untrue it may be. Get over it Romney, your republican archaic obsolete right wing fascist views are not gonna cut it anymore buddy, it's time to wake up & smell the coffee. Things are changing & your outdated narrow-minded views are fast fading into obscurity along with the other extinct right-wing capitalist views of the republican party. This country is no longer going to stand for fat cat money-grubbing republicans whose only wish is to keep their wallets lined while casting a blind eye to the poor & middle class of America. This country is for ALL people regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion – not just for wealthy white republicans. Change is here Mr. Romney, Obama is the forefront of much needed real change in this country – either get with the program or continue following your doomed path of extinction along with the other dinosaurs that couldn't adapt.

    November 15, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  10. Anny Rabit

    What is this man talking about? Nobody got any gifts but him, Romney the ultimate welfare queen, who without character, integrity, or qualifications came close to taking the presidency because his millionaire and billionaire friends TRIED to buy it for him.

    Republicans have a very bad habit of coming up with all sorts of weird turns of phrase to both express and yet attempt to mask their racism all at once. Romney calling Obama 'foreign' was one of the more slimy examples.

    They have also developed a habit of accusing others of what they do. Romney is the one who got gifts from millionaires and hie is the one who offered gifts in return – that the rich, the oil companies, the bankers would continue thanks to Bush, not to pay their share of taxes, all while using all the infrastructure and resources that we the tax payers have paid for. And then they tell us that we, who have lost jobs, pensions, home value, (while paying taxes, unlike Romney,) should 'compromise.' Thank you we have done so for years, while watching our economic security disappear.

    I especially enjoyed Rove's smelly little lie about Obama 'suppressing the vote.' No, that was the repubs, trying to keep the Black folks out of the voting booths in Ohio and Florida – the dems had to take them to court numerous times to get them to quit their civil-rights stealing shenanigans.

    But the republican talking heads have been lying for so long, they now believe their own mythology. And they hurt our democracy and our people while doing that – but fail to notice.

    This technique of lying, and then pointing fingers and saying it is the other guy who did it is getting old – and if the repubs don't think we notice, analyze and remember, they are fools.

    November 15, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  11. hchadw22

    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.

    (WHAT... the president did things that his voters wanted him to and he got re-elected....... Go figure... that must be new to the GOP.) Do what your voter base wants and get re-elected... Sounds so weird! LOL nice one Romney. Now go back and watch some of what you have said and see just WHY you REALLY lost the election DoH!

    November 15, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  12. troy

    I'll give the republicans a few more weeks to vent, and then they get the ignore button.

    November 15, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  13. Michael Meyers

    Mitt Romney.... class act

    November 15, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  14. John Hanley

    i think that Rommey confrimed today, by his stupid remarks about gifts,that he just dont have what it takes.
    most of us sure made the RIGHT vote.-SAN JOSE CA.

    November 15, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  15. Pippa

    No more than $5OOM, Willard? Will that ($5OOM) figure now appear constantly until $4OOM conveniently disappears from the dialogue to join other $MILLIONS OF LIE$ YOU GOT STASHED AWAY OUTSIDE USA, Willard?

    November 15, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  16. Smurfeater

    The biggest gift being that of no Romney as president.

    November 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. pa sayitstraight

    the guy just can't help being a loser, even after he lost. what he calls gifts are policy. had romney bothered to find out what the nonrich live like and addressed their lives, he might have been gifted with the office. but he was too busy feeding his wife's horse, or whatever they call that thing that gobbles up decency. the man has none.

    November 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  18. tuffyturf

    So, all those millions that Romney poured into the cult in Utah doesn't count? Take it like a man, this is just sour grapes. I lost all respect for Romney tonight.. the guy is just another crazy Joe Smith Lover...

    November 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  19. Ron

    That's just outright insulting to a lot more than 47% of the people in this country! Romney showed far more than two faces, telling one group one thing, another group the opposite, and a third something else. In short promising everything to everyone, that there must be something wrong with his mind. And he has the cojones to accuse Obama of giving gifts to people? How many million of you got a "gift" from Obama, because NOBODY bought my vote!

    November 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  20. James

    When Obama proposes policies that benefit a huge portion of the American populace, he's buying votes with "gifts". When Romney promises tax breaks to his donors – those that least need them – what is it then? Public service?

    November 15, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  21. four more!!!yes we did ha!!!

    well this proves,the right man was elected! romney is being a pretty big sore loser. then again i would be to if i only wrote one speech!!! what a dumb a**

    November 15, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  22. TommyD

    It appears that Romney needs mental health care.

    November 15, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  23. Steve

    Sorry, but this guy Romney is a buffoon and he continues to prove that to the American people. Just go to one of your many houses and drink a bunch of milk with all your kids. We dont need to hear from you anymore, Mr. Romney. You lost. Now go home.

    November 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  24. Salvice

    This kind of idiocy is why you lost, Mittens. Nobody likes you. Go away.

    November 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  25. Russ

    This is why Romney lost. He, like some other Republicans, have a knack for putting his foot in his mouth. However, it's kind of hard to keep it out when that is the kind of nonsense you believe. It was a good thing Obama was elected.

    November 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
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