November 18th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
2 years 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. Pilotrockpat

    Newt has his opinion. I saw obama's agenda attracting the "what can my country do for me" crowd long before the election. I agree with Romney.

    November 18, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. plain&simple

    Republicans are rats floating at sea after abandoning the sunken ship! They loved that ship when floating....now it was a piece of crap!!! Here's a big word for the narrow minded....vision!! Let's start easy.

    November 18, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. DavidE7

    Finally, Romney made some remarks that everyone understands represents what he really thinks, not the product of a focus group and poll testing. The American people made the right decision.

    November 18, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Kr55

    Obama is so evil for taking undeserved money away from banks and insurance companies for the betterment of Americans is basically what Romney is saying. Hmm, i wonder what industries his top donors work in...

    November 18, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. tam

    Mitt was a lousy candidate all around, but for Newt to criticize him?!

    November 18, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. mgrgurich

    But many republicans believe it anyway

    November 18, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. pam s

    A devout Bishop of the Mormon church should certainly realize that his defeat at the polls was God's will, to be accepted and he should seek divine inspiration on where to go from here.

    November 18, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. SN

    When the party on its own confesses to what they should not have done and shouldn't do, the supporters of that party usually have not much to say. It has taken a long time for any comment on this post from the party supporters that is accepting the facts and moving forward with remorse and resolve. Nice to see that this could be a great first step to bipartisanship in the history of the US at all levels.

    November 18, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Bill Clay

    This is fundamentally the reason that Romney lost the election, his "Let them eat cake" mentality. There was no way he was going to win after telling 47% of the country that he considered them to be moochers and deadbeats looking for a handout. He made the mistake of saying on camera what every other Republican says in private.

    November 18, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. Jason

    I hope that Romney, with his background and education, said "with regard...." and not "with regards..."

    November 18, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Phil T. Listener

    So Mr. "food stamp president" is trying to keep his relevancy while Mitt is "nuts" for saying the same things Newt said.
    Go away Newt, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall".

    November 18, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. midnitejax

    Okay, so how far off the grid do you have to be to have Gingrich (of all people) refer to your remarks as "nuts"? Back to planet Goleb for the mitten who was routed.

    November 18, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Mike H

    It is about time that a Republican speaks the truth about Romney. The campaigns appearance of desperation stooped to low levels and he really insulted and alienated voters. His comment about the 47% of the American population is just further proof of his distain for a certain percentage of the popluation. The Republicans are losing demographics quickly. It is obvious that their views do not represent the majority of Americans, which is why they will continue to lose elections and seats in Congress and the Senate. It is a matter of evolve or die.

    November 18, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Pete

    This just goes to show that comments made that Romney can't relate is accurate at least and it just being recognized now is the arrogence shown by the GOP.So next time when you want a political leader hypocrites ask the Democrates because Pres.Obama ,Clinton just showed you how to win the national personality contests in this past election didn't they..All of your candidates have been sorry picks but what do you expect from ignorent ,racist republicans ,a winner, even Bushs presidency had to be bought wasn't it the same way they tried this year but to no avail...

    November 18, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. thinkergal

    While his remark may hit the mark, for Newt to call anything anyone else has to say "nuts" is a case of the proverbial pot and kettle and calling ....

    November 18, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. John Smith

    This also speaks volumes of Gingrich and Jindal that would support a candidate that so distorted the truth throughout the election and even now after the overwhelming loss. The Republican party has to change and we can look for an even greater rejection in two years if the economy is again stalled by the GOP actions in the House. The GOP may change its words and people but as long as the base that brought Romney forward is there, it will be a cold day in hell before they rise to the executive level. Watch for big changes coming in the Texas government as an indicator.

    November 18, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. John

    Mitt Romney won the white vote ,but not by much, for you Republican to win again you are going to have to Change your idea of the way you do think and the way you think. And I'm white and I didn't vote for Mitt Romney, and you need to get the Tea Party out of your party,they are doing nothing but hurting your party with the Nuts they back. I use to be a Republican but In they last ten years or so It seem that you to Protecting the Rich and forgetting the Middle Class and Lower. Not ever one can be Rich ,If they was who would work In all the Company.

    November 18, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. Pk duster

    Mitt tried to bully a lot of people he scared a lot of people he tried to use race as a fear factor i glad the gop has finally woke up

    November 18, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  19. RK

    So what do Romney's remarks tell you about what would've happened if he had won the election? Before the election, he played the politics of exclusion. If he had won the election, he would have practiced the politics of exclusion. Anybody that didn't fit his perception of a good Republican would've been left in the dust.

    Americans very much did the right thing by reelecting Obama. Romney just doesn't get it.

    November 18, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  20. Grahame Rhodes

    Hey Republicans We did try to warn you. But OH NO. your so full of yourselves that you let your party be hijacked by the Tea Idiots

    November 18, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. DanW

    Can't run away fast enough from Mitt.

    November 18, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Bilbo

    Insulting but entirely accurate...they were protecting their safety nets at the expense of the country. and Gringrich worried about insulting people? Is he running for 2016 already?

    November 18, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  23. Pk duster

    Send mitt to texax to form his own state may be he can be come president there

    November 18, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. allens

    when 2 of the most political voices in the republican party say romney is off base, you know it is true. congratulations mitt, you are now a true republican

    November 18, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Romney said: "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".
    Excuse Mitt, but you did say in one of your debates with Obama that YOU will KEEP the pre-existing conditions and the coverage for 26 year-olds in Obamacare, so are you saying you DID NOT promise the same gifts?
    Caught iin a lie again, Mitt! Sorry!

    November 18, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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