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. D.R. St Louis, MO

    Pure ignorance (both of them) is all I can say! The owner of the poster needs to learn how to spell too! Romney knows darn well that he read that sign before he took the pics!!! A GOP presidential "HOPEFUL" is what he'll continue to be, because I would NEVER vote for him!! Who is he anyway? I've never heard of him!!!

    July 23, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Anonymous Ann Arbor, MI

    I am vaguely concerned about the sign, but only vaguely.

    I am incredibly concerned by the sheer number of previous commenters who think Obama's middle name is Osama. What are you saying, that all names associated in any way with Islam are equivalent? They all look the same to you? Barack HUSSEIN Obama is named after his grandfather.

    And, frankly, the notion that he doesn't and shouldn't read the signs is ludicrous. Would he stand in a picture with a supporter that says, "I support Romney but hate all other Mormons?" What about one that said "Keep America White?" You better believe he wouldn't - his handlers wouldn't let him.

    So we can debate the merits of the sign, whether it was offensive or just a joke, etc. But let's not kid ourselves that this is a question of whether or not he read it. He did. He should stand behind (no pun intended) his own actions.

    July 23, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Mark Davis, Austin, TX

    Goodbye Constitution??? Are you kidding?? I bet you support Al Sharpton dont you.

    Bush * Chenney 08
    "For a Better America"

    July 23, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Darrell San Francisco, CA

    Whether Romney knew what the sign said at the time of the photo is not at issue. Finding out what the sign said, and then telling others to "lighten up" is the real issue. We are responsible, whether we want to accept the responsibility or not, for the actions of those we affiliate ourselves with. Most especially when on a campaign.

    On a side note–as a former Mormon, I believe Romney is the WORST possible candidate for this country's presidency. A political foundation based on such an oft-times twisted philosophy should be looked at under a microscope. You can be sure that Mormon ideology will be used to run this country, and that is damned frightening. And although at first glance Romney would fit in with the Right Wing stance, it will all change after an oath is sworn in January 2009.

    July 23, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Perry, Dallas, Texas

    And you can spell it Moma, Momma, Mama, Mamma....

    July 23, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Patty, Galloway, OH

    Come on, people, stop being dense. CNN did show the second picture. Click on the word photograph that is in blue under the picture on the story! sheesh

    July 23, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Jeff Weber, Lincoln, nebraska

    hey Romney – I would suggest you start paying a little more attention to the three foot signs someone is holding in your picture. You didn't notice what was on the 3 foot sign? Cmon. Now you're lying. It is clearly in poor taste, and I think it tells us a little something about your tastes.

    July 23, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. Lilly, El Dorado, Arkansas

    One would think that a presidential hopeful, knowing his every move and remark will be scrutinized, would have enough sense to read a sign before being photographed with it. What an idiot! I'm just an ordinary citizen, but even I would assume that if I pose for a picture holding a sign, especially with a big cheesy grin on my face, people would assume I'm in aggremant with what the sign says. Romney became somewhat less than human in my eyes after the story about his poor dog came out. Even worse, his comment that the dog actually enjoyed it. Loser.

    July 23, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Paul, Kissimmee Fla.

    I'm surprised about the uproar. Does anybody remember Hollywood during the debate in 2004 with those tasteless jokes about president Bush? I didn't think so. Lighten up.

    July 23, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. S, In Texas

    So he had his picture taken WITH the sign and he didn't read it??!! Do we really want another president who ignores reality, even when it's right in the palm of his hand? Isn't that what King George did with the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief titled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US?

    July 23, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Pershing Wells, Houma, LA

    This is typical of the asleep-at-the-wheel Republican Party- and it's members. This guy (and the chick in the photo) are scary.

    July 23, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. Marc, Los Angeles, CA

    OMG... how is this news... its clearly a joke... Im a supporter of Barack and all this shows me is Romney has a sense of humor... I wish folks would just take it easy... the media really knows how to start mess dont they.

    July 23, 2007 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. Chris Engl San Francisco, CA

    WOW! That woman is not very bright or she is taking lessons from Karl Rove in manipulation. Neither Chelsea's mama nor Obama is responsible for the fact that a very tall man on kidney dialysis is still a free roaming Pakistan.
    Anyone with half of a brain needs to look no further than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the real reason Bin Laden has not been captured. I really hope the american public is not so uninformed to believe a sign that flip-flop Romney is so boastfully posing with.

    July 23, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. R.U.Sirius, Montgomery, AL

    There is not a comma in the sign between Obama and Osama. By including it, the article ignores the fact conservative bloggers and talk radio constantly refer to Senator Obama as "Osama Obama," as though it were his hyphenated first name. Its a puerile smear campaign and desperate attempt for a 2nd tier Repub to get national attention.

    July 23, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Mike, Staatsburg, NY

    The only bad joke around here is Mitt's presidential bid. He supports gay marriage, he's against gay marriage. He's for gun control, he's against gun control. He's for universal health care, he's against universal health care.

    This guy's a complete clown.

    July 23, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Salvador, California

    The sign is just a sign of immaturity, not a national stance... I agree, lighten up.

    Since voters aren't going to vote a cult member into the White House anyhow, focus on more substantial issues.

    July 23, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. WMC, NY, NY

    Isn't this same guy who played the bigotry card earlier in the year against Sharpton? A rose by any other name, Mr. Romney...

    July 23, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. Ron, Boca Raton, FL

    This, coming from a Presidential candidate? That is incredibly poor taste. What was he thinking?

    July 23, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  19. Richard Spivey Greenville SC

    Here we go again with the thin skinned Americans crying for an apology. Neither party is worth the powder it would take to blow them up ! Will we see change in my liftime...doubt it. But I predict that if we elect a Democrat, in less than six months terrorism will be on our soil. Obviously that is what the sign maker was thinking. Mitt Romney is so typical by replying he does not read the signs, come on have some courage,say what the sign imples. The muslims of the world not just Al Qaeda are praying for a Democratic leader so we can all sit around and blame our policies for their hate and terrorism.

    Baloney !!! No one in my lifetime has figured out what to do in the middle east, wait, since the begining of time !
    Iran the only democracy in the region has an elected leader that neither party will join at the table. Some elected official in this country must stand up and declare we are really in WAR not a volunteer army trying to police multiple packs of animals. Until Americans have the stomach to level every where that Al qaeda exist with bombs were just in another chapter of failure.

    The media makes a story out of a stupid sign why don't they report on how many Jewish Americans will ditch the Democrates if they elect a Muslim. Come on report with courage ! Not worrying about someone asking for an apology

    July 23, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. Brian, salt lake city, ut

    THis made the news? Lighten up CNN. Romney is the man!

    July 23, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. MoniLuv, Urbana, Il

    In response to

    Correction, Osama is Obama’s middle name. Nothing to do with Bin Laden

    Posted By Ronald L. Gibson : July 23, 2007 2:39 pm

    Actually Obama's middle name is Hussein.

    Anyway, Romney's excuse is a cop out. It's like saying "I signed the papers but I didn't look at what I was signing." He should take responsibility for his mistake and not try to blame it on others.

    July 23, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Rob Dallas Tx

    I agree 100% lighten up for crying out loud. There are much worse thing going on in our world to worry about dumb stuff like that.

    July 23, 2007 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Roscoe, Madison, WI

    I suggest he take time to read signs and take them seriously if he wants to win this election. I don't care if he's Democrat or Republican. People remember things like this, and it will definitely hurt him come election time. This election is meant to be taken seriously.

    July 23, 2007 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. Jeremy, Iowa City, IA

    Mitt signed a copy of the picture before the event. Then during the event he runs from it. This is typical of the right. They will capitalize on the Limbaugh/Hannity type rhetoric when it benefits them, but then they try to keep a statesmanly image when the cameras are rolling. Well, the cameras are always rolling nowadays and we're getting a good look at the "Macacca" spewing type of Republicans.

    July 23, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Rada, Miami Florida

    Aside from the fact that Mitt is better looking than the rest of the pack in the republican side and he is the only one in the top tier of the GOP that has been married only once, he's just a joke.... you want a serious man vote for RON PAUL!!!!

    July 23, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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