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. Shamoononon

    Seriously, who is leaking all this stuff? I think it's rather dangerous.

    November 15, 2012 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  2. IDrankWhat

    So what, politicians have been giving out stuff to voters for years

    November 15, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  3. carl nelson

    Romney who ?

    November 15, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. John

    Romney needs to shut up, go away, and never be seen in the news again. What a loser!

    November 15, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  5. Kelcy

    I didn`t follow election day news myself but I heard after the fact that Romney made a very dignified concession speech. And I have noted he has until this kept out of the public eye. He should have stayed there. He had gone gracefully into that dark night and would have been remembered for that. Instead...... I have to wonder if he has already decided to campaign once again for president.

    November 15, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  6. WolfRayet

    Considering what Romney offered, Obama looked like a sane Santa. Romney only offered gifts to the super wealthy. What average American citizen would vote for Romney in the first place. You would have to be suicidal.

    November 15, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  7. Elembee

    Are you kidding me?? This guy had plenty of promissed "gifts" to his groupies. Thank GOD the election went the way it did and we don't have to listen to his nonsense. Little case of sour grapes perhaps?

    November 15, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  8. jb1963

    And Romney taking millions from rich people for a promise to lower their taxes was no gift? Saving health insurance companies millions by ending the affordable health care act wasn't a gift?

    November 15, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  9. SF Great

    Romney, the election is over and you lost. No one is interested in one of your many excuses. We as Americans are just glad that we saw through your cynicism and made the right call by rejecting you and your policy.

    November 15, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  10. Benjamin

    Romney is exactly right. Obama bought his second term with taxpayer dollars and policies.

    November 15, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  11. jacturne

    ...This guy...he really is stupid. I thought maybe hey give him the benefit of the doubt about his 47% comment, but he belongs in the 1930's. If the GOP wants to make strides among minorities and women, stop these stupid comments, and immediately denounce people who make such comments.

    November 15, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  12. garwin1

    Romney. The guy that lost to the guy that lost to the guy and then lost to the guy.

    November 15, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  13. alex

    Ouch, not the place for the former Governor to have gone, his blame game smacks of the notes of a poor loser. How sad is that? I guess I was wrong expecting more from this man...shame on me.

    November 15, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  14. nvmature

    What about Romney's proposed gifts to the rich, ultra-right wing Conservatives? The Grover Norquists? The Tea Partiers? He believes only he can play Santa Claus?

    November 15, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  15. legionfresh77

    Isn't America happy with it's decision? I know I am.

    See ya Mitt.

    November 15, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  16. jon

    Unfortunately, the Republicans offer no one anything – except their base: As Bush called them, "The haves and the have mores." Nice.

    November 15, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  17. UnKnown

    Oh boo hoo Mitt Romney i nothing but a sore loser and has a big mouth. Someone send him to the old folks home already!

    November 15, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  18. Will Williamson

    Yeah, by all means – lets have the Re[Republicans start pandering to special interest groups as well. That way maybe they can buy more vote and win. Does anybody out there care to think about the future of the country as a whole, or am I really just the last man standing?????!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  19. Bill Brown

    This is a foolish man.

    November 15, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  20. fm

    Romney's goal of becoming a mere trivia question and a footnote to losing big on a grand scale continues.

    November 15, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  21. Olastep @facebook

    Woah.

    November 15, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  22. Emma in Baltimore

    Romney can't seem to acknowledge his own short-comings. He lost on his own terms - no one lost the race for him. For him to seek blame anywhere but himself is to demonstrate irresponsibility and lack of leadership.

    November 15, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  23. Margaret Knight

    As an independent voter, I can only write that Rominee, yes Rominee, wanted to be elected by the far right and Tea Party that he forgot about all of us, the middle class. I definitely agree with Obama about continuing taxes on the rich, especially rich people like Rominee who can so easily hide their money in other countries. Screw Rominee; Hallelujah President Obama. We finally have someone who speaks to US, the Middle Class, who works their asses off to make ends meet on a daily basis. If we have the capability to put money in savings or whereever, it is only after working as teachers, etc. and after raising our children. I was never able to save money when my children were growing up. Now that I can try and save money at the age of 64 I am glad that I can continue to pay taxes. However, for the richie rich to get off paying less or none is criminal!!!!!!!!!!

    November 15, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  24. Jeremiah

    "You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 ... getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,"
    The guy is so far from reality that he doesn't even get what does it mean to spend almost half of income on health insurance, how it's fundamentally unfair and detrimental to the society fabric. Not to mention that people have to pay rent or mortgage and have something on the table too.

    November 15, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  25. Doc Ock

    No wonder Romney lost. He lives in fantasy land. How many billionaires and corporations did he promise insane tax breaks to?? Good for the Gov for calling BS on this, maybe it's a sign that some of the GOP are ready to start moving the party forward and away from the hate and fear mongering that have become so identified with it in recent years.

    November 15, 2012 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
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