July 23rd, 2007
06:14 PM ET
8 years ago

Romney says 'lighten up' to sign critic

Romney recently posed with a supporter donning a controversial campaign sign. Another photograph shows Romney holding the sign.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has a message for those who are criticizing him for recently posing next to a supporter’s controversial campaign sign: “lighten up.”

The former Massachusetts governor took heat over the weekend from one town-hall audience member for recently posing with a supporter who donned a sign saying “"No to Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Moma."

The sign is an obvious grouping of the two leading Democratic presidential candidates - Sens. Hillary Clinton, the mother of Chelsea Clinton, and Barack Obama - with Al Qaeda leader and 9/11 organizer Osama Bin Laden.

"I don't look at all the signs when I'm having pictures taken,” Romney said during a town-hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire when pressed to apologize by one member of the audience. The comments were captured and made available to CNN by New Hampshire Public Radio.

“I have a lot of pictures taken with people, Romney also said. “I don't really spend all that much time looking at the signs and the T-shirts and the buttons. I don't have anything to say about a sign somebody else was holding."

"You know what? Lighten up slightly," he added. "There are a lot of jokes out there. I'm not responsible for all the signs I see.”

- CNN's Steve Brusk and Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Mitt Romney
soundoff (241 Responses)
  1. C Morrison, Lansing Michigan

    The person didn't even spell 'momma' right.
    some of these conservative supporters are semi-literate at best. At least us democratic supporters can spell.
    I almost feel sorry for Mr Romney having to endure the company of those people

    July 23, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. mann, melony

    So what??

    July 23, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Patty, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

    I am with Mitt on this one lighten up! The sign was way too funny! Some people are way clever wished I would have thought of that one!

    July 23, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    Never mind the Osama/Obama issue, I don't want a person who can't even spell "Momma" correctly to vote. It's not like it's a tough word.

    July 23, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Cheron Guyton , St. Louis, MO

    Correction: Hussein, meaning "good; small handsome one", is Obama's middle name. He was given this name as a tribute to his grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama. Hussein is a very common surname in Islamic cultures.

    However light the sign appears to be, it just illustrates how stereotyping breeds ignorance.

    As to the Romney posing with a sign that he allegedly didn't read, this shows his assessment of the intelligence level of his supporters who would believe that rhetoric.

    July 23, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Justin McConnell, Seattle WA

    PLEASE! Are you kidding me Mitt? You don't look at the signs people are holding when you have your picture taken by a reporter? Good, now we know how aware you are of your surroundings, I'm sure you'll make an excellent president. Additionally, you may want to tell some of your fellows about lightening up, because I'm about 90% certain that if Hillary or Barack were in a picture with someone holding a sign deriding Mormons, your people would be in an uproar about it, just like they were about BIG LOVE on HBO. In the future, pay attention to the world around you, that's your job as a politician, Not conceding to special interests and lining your pocket.

    July 23, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Blake, Denton, TX

    I'm not a Romney fan but he's right. Lighten up. Trying to use this as an "anti Romney" opportunity is rather pathetic. Complain about something real.

    July 23, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Linda, Chandler AZ

    Two things. Re: a comment above... "Osama" is NOT Barack Obama's middle name. And, second: "Lighten up" is what a certain politican said after calling someone "macaca". Goodbye, Mitt Romney.

    July 23, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  9. Lisa Evans, Quebec City, QC (US Citizen)

    I see that this young lady, in addition to creating a sign more appropriate for a 7 year old's lemonade stand, doesn't even know how to spell. Bravo!

    If I were Mr. Romney I would scrutinize signs before posing with them and the people who created them.
    As a candidate for the highest office in the US, I expect that said candidate would read things first, let alone approving them without perusal.

    July 23, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. coco, NYC

    surely, he jests!! is really saying he is not responsible for the big grin on his face either. did he snuggle up behind this woman grinned like a chichire cat and had his picture take. I guess he would have done the same if she had a t-shirt on that said Mormons are asses!!
    such a hypocrite and a liar, but wait he is a religious man, he is on track.

    July 23, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Mitch, Phoenix, AZ

    OK, a couple of questions for CNN:
    1) Why are you misquoting the sign, in a way that changes the obvious intended meaning? The sign-maker is referring to only two people – no comma – and trying to tar Obama with his middle name (wow, and to tar Clinton with Chelsea?)
    2) Why are you not showing the other picture, in which Romney is actually holding the sign himself? It helps put the lie to the quote you used about not looking at it – as another commenter pointed out, he is not that stupid. (Maybe he doesn't look at signs he's near, but to actually hold it up proudly? Puh-leeze!)

    All in all, a stupid little controversy. But, CNN should at least report on it correctly!

    July 23, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. Michael Ferrara, San francisco, CA

    As a presidential hopeful and flip flopper on various issues, you should be watching out for your image as to where you place yourself. If another candidate did this or responded the way you did..you would attack rather than defend.

    July 23, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Shawn

    To Ronald L. Gibson:

    Osama is NOT Obama's middle name. Hussein is his middle name. Barrack Hussein Obama.

    Think for yourself. Check the fact. Don't just be a mouth piece for other people's agenda.

    July 23, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. AG, Denver, CO

    Oh please. If the sign had a swastika or racial slurs on it you can be sure the sign wouldn't appear within a mile of wherever he happened to be.

    BD makes the best point above: either he knew full well what the sign said, or he's got terrible observational skills...as does his staff.

    July 23, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. rae, lisle il

    Mr. Romney's reaction is exactly what I'd expect from the current President Bush in a situation like this.

    So how far doesn't he look at other people's signs? Are we suppose to lighten up when he hugs someone holding a sign that says, "Death to America"?

    July 23, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. Austin TX

    Obama's middle name is Osama! Why would this be offensive.

    July 23, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Mitch, Phoenix, AZ

    Linda (Chandler), thanks for reminding me/us that "Osama" is not Obama's middle name. It didn't seem right, but I was in a rush.

    July 23, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. AMG, Boston, MA

    Good to know mitt romney supporters can spell so well.

    July 23, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. Scott, Springfield, MA

    Romney was an absent governor who was gold-digging his way to the White House! His comment that he didn't really know what the sign said is disingenuous. In Mitt's words "get over it", meaning get over the presidential race...get out of the race. You aren't fit to be president with your bias and discriminatory history.

    July 23, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Larzarus Long, Madison, AL

    Politicans are supposed to have people working for them to look out for stuff like this. IMHO, his handlers failed and Romney has to take the fire.

    Silly sign should never have gotten past the people who work for Rommey.

    Just another "Mission Accomplished"

    July 23, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. R. Jones, Indianapolis, IN

    For the goof who in his comment claims Obama's middle name is Osama, wrong! The Senator's full name is Barack Hussein Obama. Unfortunately, there is no knowledge test to vote. That is how we ended up with the mess we are in today.

    July 23, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  22. Farmer Doug

    Totally creative – Fantastic sign. Like a great headline...which all of us can understand. Better than most things that have come out of the mouths of critics.

    July 23, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Travis

    How many photos do you think a presidential candidate is in per day? Maybe a hundred or so? Multiply that by weeks, months, and now, years in a campaign. Oh ya, he is suppose to look at every shirt, sign, or button first. Get real.

    July 23, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Tim, Corvallis, Or

    Lighten up? This coming from the party who thought a sexual act is an impeachable offense. And the lady didn't even get the name rights. Uneducated for the win!

    July 23, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. DP in PA

    There is another picture taken at the same location with Romney HOLDING THE OBAMA/OSAMA SIGN. Why don't you show that one? Does Romney deny reading a sign that he actually held up himself? Is it OK for a presidential candidate to compare an opponent to a mass-murder terrorist?

    July 23, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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