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.”

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

“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. Kr55

    Sounds similar to his 47% comments. The best revenge is to make Mitt pay more taxes so he has less money to hide and not invest in America.

    November 15, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  2. Jason

    Man, talk about a sore loser. Easy for him to talk bout bribing desperate people who need health care for their votes, when its guys like him that downsize companies and use the threat of layoffs to negotiate the loss of those benefits for his personal profit. Disgusting.

    November 15, 2012 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  3. Gloria

    Thank God that this man did not win the election!

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  4. blanketjackson

    well, he's right. free phones, free food, free healthcare, free and/or subsidized housing, and a government stipend on top of all that. why should the uncaring try to make anything out of themselves? what in the hell has happened to this country?

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  5. Michael

    We dodged a bullet

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  6. Bob Jones

    He's a winner!

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  7. Islander67

    And a promise to keep tax rates low, wasn't a "gift" to a bunch of rich people, or a promise to spend lavishly on defense wasn't a "gift" to the military-industrial complex. These remarks show that Romney and his base do not see the young, the racial and ethnic minorities or women as "real" Americans, people who are an important part of the country. They think that "real" Americans are white, male and rich. Romney is still living in the bubble.

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  8. HR

    Some of this is just factually wrong, like the claim that Obama got fewer votes in 2012 than McCain did in 2008. In this election, Obama got 62610717 votes. In the 2008 election, McCain got 59,948,000 votes. So that's not correct.

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  9. Name

    Exactly!!!

    November 15, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  10. A

    Wow...sore loser, much?

    November 15, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  11. trilly3807

    Obama "gave" AMERICANS what they deserve. Not gifts. Not hand-outs. Simple justice and promises kept. Legal immigration is necessary. The DREAM Act is necessary. Crushing loan interest to get a worthy education or technical skill training had to be addressed. The President's proposals on these issues were approved by the Congress and Senate. He did not simply declare them to be law. He cannot. Romney knows this as well as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how our government works.

    The United States of America must stop thinking in terms of race. We are ALL Americans. We ALL have some type of ancestry be it this generation or generations long ago. I am of Irish decent. There was a time when the Irish were looked down upon. The bottom of the barrel in fact. I suppose they may still be looked down upon by some who think you had to arrive on the Mayflower to be a true American. Why do we continue to segregate ourselves as "African" or "Latino" Americans? We are stagnant until we stop this practice. WE ARE AMERICANS! PERIOD.

    I did not vote for Romney, but I really thought he had more class than to continue throwing stones at this point. Now he is coming across as nothing more than a sore loser. It is pathetic. Oh, and his comment that any Republican "future nominee – which, by the way, will not be me."? The last four words were completely unnecessary. He has proven himself unworthy in innumerable ways. His comments today show his true self and all of those who did not trust him and did not vote for him are further vindicated.

    November 15, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  12. joe

    Romney is correct.

    November 15, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  13. Sassafras

    Poor Romney. Still doesn't get it.

    November 15, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. Lisa W

    Romney is a idiot. He believes in a religion correction a cult, that says African Americans up until the 1970's are abomination although in the bible GOD stated he made all mankind in his likeness and now he is saying our President won by gifts. First he needs to learn from his running mate Sen. Ryan who has taken it gracefully and professionally in the loss and is ready to get back to work to help all and second ihe is saying Obama won by gifts please tell me what the SUPERPAC was for him and his campaign? When all those millionaires and billionaries were contributing to help him win. That just shows you if he was elected just who he would be looking out for and it would not be for the middle class.

    November 15, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  15. Anonymous

    he is right

    November 15, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  16. Joe

    The health care is not free Romney. Maybe this is why u lost the election because you made everyone not voting for u look like they wanted handouts. People still have to pay for it. Sorry Romney I wont make millions of dollars by ripping off people. I earn it. So if you wanna say you earned it and act all above us then go ahead.

    November 15, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  17. Sarah

    Just say you suck and be done with it. Terrible candidate.

    November 15, 2012 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  18. Chris

    Romney, dude, YOU LOST, get over it.

    November 15, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  19. trilly3807

    Obama "gave" AMERICANS what they deserve. Not gifts. Not hand-outs. Simple justice and promises kept. Legal immigration is necessary. The DREAM Act is necessary. Crushing loan interest to get a worthy education or technical skill training had to be addressed. The President's proposals on these issues were approved by the Congress and Senate. He did not simply declare them to be law. He cannot. Romney knows this as well as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of how our government works.

    The United States of America must stop thinking in terms of race. We are ALL Americans. We ALL have some type of ancestry be it this generation or generations long ago. I am of Irish decent. There was a time when the Irish were looked down upon. The bottom of the barrel in fact. I suppose they may still be looked down upon by some who think you had to arrive on the Mayflower to be a true American. Why do we continue to segregate ourselves as "African" or "Latino" Americans? We are stagnant until we stop this practice. WE ARE AMERICANS! PERIOD.

    I did not vote for Romney, but I really thought he had more class than to continue throwing stones at this point. Now he is coming across as nothing more than a sore loser. It is pathetic. Oh, and his comment that any Republican "future nominee – which, by the way, will not be me."? The last four words were completely unnecessary. He has proven himself unworthy in innumerable ways. His comments today show his true self and all of those who did not trust him and did not vote for him are further vindicated.

    November 15, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  20. It all adds up!

    What dream world does Romney live in? Thanks Gov Jindal for keeping it real. Romney does not represent all Republicans and never has. For now Obama was the right choice. Conservatives and Liberals need to come together as United Americans. You don't have to agree except to understand where other view points are based. Love God and Your Neighbor as it is time to end the hatred. We need to get back to work without sabotaging wages for the elite to have bigger profit margines. No one should be a slave not even to debt. Obama was being sabotaged from the start and the People wanted Jobs not the top priority of sabotaging the President. I hope Mitch McConnell is on the way out. We need new faces and term limits for Congress. So that the People not big Money get the get the Representation intended by Congress. Romney still lives in a world of make believe: No wonder his story always changes Romney panders to the Room he speaks to. I guess the biggest lie is the one Romney tells himself. Fiction become facts.

    November 15, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  21. california girl

    Mr. Romney, F.Y.I.:

    My husband and I are in the upper middle-class. We have been here in America for more than 30 years. We both retired as government workers and we continue to work harder by maintaining our own businesses. Of course, we pay income taxes to Uncle Sam. (Same with you), my husband and I own five houses in America. However, am very happy and proud to tell you that we voted for President OBAMA.

    My advice to you:
    Gracefully accept the fact that you lost the race...be a real man and show some "class." No Excuses!!!!
    Enjoy your Family while you can...

    November 15, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  22. vcd

    How much so many people who voted for Romney can get up in the morning and look in the mirror. This guy really believes that 47% are free loaders. When I read the first paragraph, I thought about his 47% comment. Man o man. With all that money spent, he got less vote than McCain.

    November 15, 2012 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  23. Joseph B

    It's amazing that Romney got 48% of the vote. This guy who give tax cuts to the rich is out of touch with reality, no wonder he lost.

    November 15, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  24. Texas will be blue

    Poor republicans, you still don't get it!

    November 15, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  25. Jacob Jacobi

    No Mitt, the problem was you.

    November 15, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25