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. Dion, Chula Vista, California

    So he thinks it is just a joke huh? I wonder whtat the gop would have said if it would have been a demcrat under a sign with cheney, bush and osam on one sign linking them?

    July 23, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  2. Kate Andrews

    Gee whiz. If he hadn't been HOLDING the sign with that cat-that-ate-the-canary grin on his face I might have bought this organic fertilizer.

    Come on, CNN. Show the other pictures.

    July 23, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Christina, La Crosse, WI

    For the record Barack's middle name is Hussein, not Osama- the poster is refrencing the terrorist Osama Bin Laden in addition to Hillary Clinton. While it is a clever poster, I wonder why the woman who made it feels like the other two candidates should be grouped with a terrorist? That's the problem with it. Romney probably lyrically funny although he does have a responsibility to steer clear of improper propaganda but this is one that all of us BARACK supporters will take with a grain of salt!

    July 23, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. Ron, Syracuse NY

    the forgot to add "say no to Mormons"

    July 23, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Kristine, Salt Lake City, Utah

    I'm from Utah, Mitt's LDS home state, and I think he is an embarrassment.

    Since when do we compare our poiticians to terrorists...oh, that's right. I think the Bush adminstration started that trend. I think a vote for Mitt would be a vote for more of the shame, I mean same.

    July 23, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Val, Chandler AZ

    Oh come on people! I've seen a lot worse signs, especially vulgar ones, from democrat supporters!! Nobody is claiming that the sign isn't exaggerating things a bit, and we know that people from both sides of the aisle rely on some exaggeration to make their point.

    July 23, 2007 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. N. Holloway Austin Texas

    Mitt, If you can't take responsiblity for something like this before you are elected – what will you not take responsiblity for AFTER your elected. To tell us to "Lighten Up" is the same as "Read My Lips" or any of the other lies we have been told by The White House.

    July 23, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. SJR

    Romney supporters are a radical bunch that will make George Bush look tame.

    July 23, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    You all obviously missed the other photograph of him actually holding up the sign. The picture on cnn where he was standing behind the sign isn't the only picture. You can see the one where he is holding the sign at tmz.com

    July 23, 2007 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  10. Voln, Sierra Vista, AZ

    I'm guessing the people that complain about Romney possibly lieing about looking at the sign are the same exact people that defend Bill Clinton and his little white pergury to congress.

    Grow up.

    July 23, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Ted K. Boston MA

    If this "dirt" is the best liberals can come up with, Mitt is a shoo in for '08.

    July 23, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. Jeff C, San Francisco

    Shape-shifter Mitt first response is to say the sign he held up was just a meaningless rhyme scheme; then he says he didn't look at the sign he held up; then he autographs a picture of himself holding up the sign; then he says again he wasn't paying attention & it's no big deal. This clown needs some better handlers.

    July 23, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Erik

    Hmm, would Romney say it's just a joke if another candidate took a picture next to a sign that insulted him? I think not! He would be crying about every minute he was in front of a camera. Romney is an arrogant hypocrite pander. Truly God-fearing Americans can see through these mean spirited acts. These baby boomers need to wake up! Go Obama!

    July 23, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. Mark, Lewiston ME

    This would/should be a total non-story except for the fact that Romney went out of his way to claim ignorance of the sign. I've got no love for Romney, but I wish all of these campaigns would lighten up as he suggested–this incident is hardly worth anyone getting worked up about. (In fact, my guess is Sen. Obama has enough of a sense of humor to have gotten a private chuckle out of it.) However, don't treat us like idiots and try to convince you didn't see the sign. I want leadership, integrity and the like from my politicians just like everyone else, but mostly I want them not to assume I am a moron.

    July 23, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  15. Mr. Pulcher, Pittsburgh PA

    You are right, romney. You are a politician. You are not responsible for your publice image. You've a team of go-fers to do that for you.

    July 23, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  16. Joe, Annandale, VA

    1. Romney is correct–we all should be able to lighten up about things a bit more. And I do agree that sometimes lots of politicians will miss connections (for instance, Bill Clinton wearing the "Rudy" baseball cap in the NY election).

    2. Romney is also wrong when he says that he has no control over the sign, what people say. That's like George Bush standing next to the SC politician in front of cameras as this guy lied about John McCain. Even if Romney was clueless about the sign, his presence (and posing for a picture) turns a silly little sign and gives it exposure. And whether he intends to, by posing next to it, it implies he agrees with it. So he can take it lightly but also say "obviously I don't agree with innuendo of the sign."

    3. And it's disingenuous for some republican supporters to argue it's just a cute little rhyme. Right. There have already been lies spread about Obama and having been endoctrinated at a Madrassa. Some Republicans have tried to take a war and use it as a political tool ("Osama Bin Laden wants Democrats elected" etc.) and this sign feeds into that.

    A sign held by a democratic supporter that said something like "say no to Romney, Polygamy and our Presidential mental pygmy" would be silly but be almost as bad in my mind b/c by innuendo, it tries to make an issue of Romney's religion and outdated and offensive stereotypes about it.

    July 23, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Chelsea Clinton, N.Y, N.Y.

    I think he is right, "Lighten up"

    July 23, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. S. L. Gooch

    Seriously, people need to lighten up. That poster is based on a joke about a Marine.

    MITT in 2008!

    July 23, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Connie, Tn.

    The Repugs have done such a great job of capturing Osama. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg in sleaze from them. This is following the SWIFTBOAT lies we put up with the last election. Hope we have enough intelligent people voting in 2008 that will not pay attention to lies!

    July 23, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. ben, Ruston, La.

    Now everybody knows he does not always tell the truth. He just had to show us he's just like most other politicians.

    July 23, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, Nyack, NY

    No, no, no, you've got it wrong . . . there's nothing on that sign about Hilary. The sign-bearer is obviously disturbed by MOMA - New York's Museum of Modern Art - and clearly a fan of Caravaggio over Cubism.

    Only problem: MOMA is considerably north of New York's Chelsea neighborhood, which is down in the 20s. One can't expect New Hampshire voters to have that detailed a knowledge of New York georgraphy.

    July 23, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. Carole MA

    my my myyyyyy Im thinking that Mitt Romney must be becoming quite a threat if this is what they have to pick on him about. Seriously do you think he takes the time to read all the signs while he's campaigning? Granted the woman that made the sign is immature but that is no reason to punish Mr. Romney

    July 23, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    To Voln – "lieing" ??? wow. yes, he's lying. Leave Bill out of it. That isn't the issue here.

    July 23, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Brad, Sacramento CA

    Who cares about his posing with the sign. Romney used his Mormon religion to block the Native Americans in Massachusetts from having a casino. I'd be more concerned about a President who lets his religion interfere with running the country ...like the incumbent

    July 23, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. inthemiddle, Orlando, FL

    For those who find this funny and entertaining are probably Romney or a rebup supporter...so lets turn the table for a moment – If it was Obama or Hillary standing next to one of their supporters holding a similar sign bashing a repub candidate it wouldn't be as funny or entertaining right?-Right! And lets not forget the monkeys over at FOX News, they would have a week long field day if such a story happened.

    July 23, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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