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. Steven Seyed

    As of a week ago, Romney has lost all relevance in the political world. There are the death throes of a failed 7 year struggle for Rommers stroke his own ego. Fade off into the sunset Rommers....

    November 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  2. Truth Partner 12

    Well, it is true. My phone bill came yesterday and my FUSC Charge went up 10% in one month. FUSC originally subsidized installing telephone lines into low density locations. It now provides free cellphones and minutes to those "less fortunate". That is simply charity with my tax dollars. Also waivers to unions for Obama Care compliance – more "free stuff".

    November 15, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  3. ArmyCSM

    I no longer care what the former nominee of the losing party says because he's irrelevant. And I don't understand why is CNN wasting bytes covering him. Mittens needs to go somewhere and spend the rest of his life reflecting on what might have been but never will be and leave the rest of us alone.

    November 15, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  4. Tony

    Well, he is exactly wrong. (See contraception announcement, gay marriage shift, young illegal immigrant announcement).

    November 15, 2012 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  5. demopin

    GO AWAY ROMNEY!

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  6. Fastwalkers

    Yo Willard....wake up and straighten up. Sour grapes on losing the election I see. Put your energies in getting behind your President and get on with making America a better place. You would want the same from from Obama if the situation was reversed. Get over it and get on with something positive. Seems right out of the gate, you, and many of the GOP are not really interested in working to "reach across the aisle" and get on with making our country better. No, you'd much rather fight tooth and nail and continue to obstruct and bellyache.

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  7. Tony

    Well, he is not wrong. (See contraception announcement, gay marriage shift, young illegal immigrant announcement).

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  8. demopin

    GO AWAY ROMNEY

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  9. Rich

    Yea Right. It was Obama's gifts. Romney never said he doesn't care about 47% of Americans. He never said he was "severely conservative" and then tried to run as a moderate. He didn't write "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt", costing him Michigan and Ohio. Romney didn't lose two out of three debates. Romney's campaign didn't make misstep after misstep. None of that happened. It was someone elses fault.

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  10. jefflazrn

    Dear Mitt Romney. I voted for President Obama because he is a better man than you. It's as simple as that.

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  11. WendyWhite

    What kind of comment is this? Sooooooooooo immature of the 'defeated one'.

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  12. Edwin Ortiz Jr.

    Romney you lost suck it up and stop complaining. Your ideology failed, your campaign failed, and only the misinformed backed you and your policies. But we all see how that went well for you. Obama/Biden 2012 It's a new day we will not go back to the stone age with that stone age way of thinking......

    November 15, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  13. James

    And what was he gonna do? Gift the wealthiest of the welthy like Bush did. What a selfish man to even be making that statement.

    November 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  14. wilson

    Bitter poor loser that just confirms he would have been a terrible president.

    November 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  15. jefflazrn

    PS. You're proving me right by these comments you're making. Thanks for that.

    November 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  16. Harry From Pa

    Romney is sore about losing, why are you even still in the news?

    November 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  17. lebuff

    Gifts are you kidding me! I thought you were the rich guy, who should have given gifts. But you wanted to kill the poor rather than give them gifts. Shut the hell up r omney you lost!!! Get over it!!! Take a vacation rich man!

    November 15, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  18. hchadw22

    (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 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  19. Nameron

    I am a proud disabled veteran and so happy to be one of the fortyseven percent romney so nicely alienated

    November 15, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  20. William

    Foot, meet mouth.

    November 15, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  21. abrahim

    we love obama any ways leve him alon!

    November 15, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  22. MikeA

    I was actually willing to listen to Rommey and maybe even vote for him, but after reading these comments I am glad I voted for Obama. In my opinion this is a repeat of his"47%" comment again just said in a different way. Jindal has it right that the next GOP candidate should focus on getting `00% of the vote instead of the 53% and stop making excuses for the better of this country.

    November 15, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  23. dbarber

    That's right Mitt...keep it classy. Sour grapes, a few more lies to add to the big steaming pile you already made during the campaign...and an apparent memory lapse that has made you forget the, uhm...GIANT gift you were promising to hand all the billionaires with your win. Oh well. Bye forever.

    November 15, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  24. Hugh

    Sore loser.

    November 15, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  25. WKH

    Romney's contempt for others. Bobby Jindal = 2016.

    November 15, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
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