November 18th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
1 year ago

Gingrich: Romney ‘gifts’ comment ‘nuts’

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich had harsh words Sunday for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s suggestion that he lost the election because President Barack Obama offered “gifts” to African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters.

“I just think it’s nuts,” Gingrich said on ABC. “I mean, first of all, it's insulting.”

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“The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win,” said Gingrich, who launched blistering attacks on Romney last spring while seeking the presidential nomination himself.

Revelation of Romney’s comments drew criticism from others within his own party, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – who said a winning strategy does not involve “insulting (voters) and saying their votes were bought” - and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said, “Rhetoric like this keeps digging a hole for the Republican Party.”

Romney was quoted by several news outlets as having made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday, and CNN confirmed he made similar arguments in a separate call earlier in the day.

"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 later call. Portions of audio from the call aired on ABC that evening.

The New York Times quoted Romney as having said, "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift."

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued, according to the Times. "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."

Romney has stayed out of the public eye since losing the election nearly two weeks ago, and his longtime spokesman did not return a request from CNN for comment about his remarks.

Jindal spoke out against the comments at the Republican Governors Association meeting earlier in the week, and on Sunday described Romney as “honorable and exceptional” but said the comments do not represent his party.

“I'm proud to have campaigned for him across the country, but I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote,” Jindal said on Fox. “If we want people to like us, we have to like them first. And you don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party.”

The GOP will not succeed by “just having better PR folks,” he said.

CNN exit polls showed Romney won white voters, while Obama carried 93% of African-American voters, 71% of Latino voters, and 73% of Asian voters. Obama outperformed Romney among voters under 39 years of age, while Romney carried a majority of voters over 40.

Graham said Hispanics “voted for (Obama) because he's the lesser or two evils.”

“We're in a big hole. We're not getting out of it by comments like (Romney’s),” Graham said on NBC. “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging.”

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra said on ABC that the comments show the Republican Party did not “read the tea leaves from November 6, and I think they're still harkening to yesteryear. It's a new day in America, and they should be catching up.”

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report


Filed under: Latinos • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (397 Responses)
  1. PHYLLIS

    Just goes to show you, that us ignorant and dependent 47% got it right NOT voting for Mitt, the twit, Romney. He really does NOT care about us or for us. He's never been one of us, will never be one of us and will never be able to relate to the average American. He needs to go back to his big business buddies and HIS kind of people.

    November 18, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. NVa Native

    Romoney was a result of the problem – the GOP policies of arrogance and ignorance that favor the selfish and greedy while promoting fear and intolerance of other Americans.

    November 18, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Nuts? Not at all. Obama bought votes, with hand outs. We all know he did. That has been the Dem approach to getting votes since FDR. Obama simply took it to a level that has never before, been seen.

    Americans sold the soul of the country, and its long standing heritage, for a few dollars worth of birth control. That is now what Americans value.........and they have made it very clear, that's what they value.

    Once they take all the money of the wealthy, and leave them just ordinary citizens again.........then where do they get their welfare, after that? That only works, once.

    Then everyone is on equal footing, and those waiting for their welfare, will continue to wait.

    November 18, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. coloradan

    This is what happens in elections. Democrats cater to the poor and middle class. Republicans cater to the rich. If Romney won one could argue he turned out his base with a promise of low taxes.

    November 18, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Expat American

    That's odd. I would think that the second person in line to endorse Romney's 'gifts' commentary would have been Gingrich – that is after Donald Trump had finished foaming at the mouth.

    November 18, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Sad

    This is just another illustration of how out of touch Romney is with mainstream America. I sincerely hope he doesn't speak for the GOP. If this is the GOP's mindset than they will be irrelevant for many elections to come.

    November 18, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Ron

    “I just think it’s nuts,” Gingrich said on ABC. “I mean, first of all, it's insulting.” This coming from a man who has said so many nutty and insulting things that they can't even be counted?

    November 18, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Expat American

    Make that the third person in line. Trump and Rush would have first cheered on Romney's comments.....

    November 18, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. ST

    Oh! bravo. Continue beating that dead horse. When his so-called "gifts" were issued, the severely conservative Mitt the loser was around. If he was not a coward person, why didn't he say then what he is saying now?

    November 18, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. petena

    Keep it up GOP – don't stop. Please don't stop. In 2014 we will be doing more house cleaning and it will be easier by you guys keeping this up.

    November 18, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. aaron

    Gingrich saying something that isn't mean-spirited and partisan has to have an alterior motive. Maybe another run for president in 4 years.

    November 18, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Someone is a sore loser...

    November 18, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. WhereIsPalin

    “I just think it’s nuts,” said the head nut.

    November 18, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. trufaldino

    Funny how before the election the Republicans framed it as a fundamental choice and after the election Romney wants to frame it as merely juggling a few groups here and there. Romney can't get over that many voters made a fundamental choice, and it was to reject Republicans.

    November 18, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. us_1776

    .
    Keep digging yourself further into the hole Repubs.

    .

    November 18, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. scottabc

    Republicans have been saying nonsense like Romney's 'gift' comment for years, now because they don't want to be associated with a loser they repudiate him. These people have absolutely no honor or integrity. Especially considering that Romney switched his politics around to appeal to the right wing of the Republican party that controls it.

    November 18, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. bill pike

    nothing like infighting-and the dealer yells deal dam it deal. What Romney was thinking is obama has developed a huge voting block called co-dependents and to this I agree. In the first 4 years we have put everything in full gear to have a welfare state-take from the rich give to the poor-this is not new. Well to all of ;you who voted your paycheck the next step is socialism-sounds so good on paper but down and down obama takes us. Oh-you didn't know-the top 1% in power in socialism and communism are the super wealthy--all the power.

    November 18, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Sorensen

    Hey Newt – Never oblige your fellow human beings beyond their capabilities.

    November 18, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. joeallard

    Romney's continued silence over his gaffe about Obama’s gifts to voters is more and more confirmation that Romney and his American Taliban are completely out of touch with American voters: and, therefore utterly meaningless. Aside from the wealthy elite the Republicans no longer have a party that can win national elections. They must concede and drastically change their ideology. I can only imagine how upsetting that is to them: And, I love it.

    November 18, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Pablo695

    Gingrich and Romney come the same bin of "Loser Nuts"...

    November 18, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. rcsdinthehills

    Everything about Romney has been divisive and insulting to me. I would like to have a fist-fight with him- and I am a woman- that's how mad he makes me. What a pompous, disrespectful, clueless excuse for a "leader". Go back to church and study how to respect people, Gov Romney. It is terrifying to think how close this buffoon came to becoming President of the USA.

    November 18, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. nchevanz

    Takes one to know one, I'd say.

    November 18, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  23. Hillcrester

    The country's rapidly-changing demographics is creating a more tolerant, government-favoring electorate which threatens to leave the increasingly-intolerant, government-bashing GOP in national minority status, as the party doubles down on an ideology that caused its losses this year. I think it will take at least one more election for correction to occur, and it might take until after the 2016 election.

    November 18, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. Bob

    Wow, more proof the American people did the right thing by not electing that buffoon.

    November 18, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. GOP = Madness

    Nobody in the GOP was the least bit worried about the 47% comment when Romney was the nominee. The hypocrites are jumping off the HMS Mittanic. Mitt Romney, "The Gift" that keeps on giving!

    November 18, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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