Romney calls billionaire football team owners friends
March 12th, 2012
07:21 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney calls billionaire football team owners friends

(CNN) – They're wealthy - not millionaires, but billionaires. They're football fans - so much so, that they own teams. And they're the subjects of yet another misstep which Mitt Romney may wish he didn't make.

Romney has spent recent days working to relate to southern voters, talking up grits, saying "y'all," visiting the Daytona 500 – and on Monday, he campaigned with comedian Jeff Foxworthy, known for his "redneck" jokes. But he stumbled back into the rich and out-of-touch narrative on Monday, when he volunteered in a radio interview that he is friends with at least two billionaire football team owners.

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Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was fielding a friendly question about star quarterback Peyton Manning, who was cut from the Indianapolis Colts last week. He said he hoped Manning would not picked up by his hometown team, the New England Patriots.

And that's when he stepped in it.

"I got a lot of good friends – the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, both owners are friends of mine," he said on a syndicated radio program hosted by Paul Finebaum.

Woody Johnson, the Jets owner, is a major backer of the Republican Party and GOP candidates, and Stephen Ross, of the Dolphins, hosted a fundraiser for Romney in January.

But most Americans would not call someone of his wealth a friend, and some who will vote on Tuesday in Alabama, Hawaii, and Mississippi may see him as out of touch. He found himself in the same situation after a February visit to the Daytona 500 race, when he admitted he does not follow the sport closely.

"Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners," Romney told a reporter for the Associated Press in February.

But besides the verbal gaffe, there is a difference between Romney's NASCAR gaffe and his football fumble: Romney handled the question like a fan.

"Well, you know, I'm surprised to hear that Denver's thinking about him," Romney said. "I mean, it's – they're – I – yeah, I don't want him in our, in our neck of the woods, let's put it that way. I don't want [Manning] to go to Miami or the Jets.

"But let's keep away from New England so that Tom Brady has a better shot of picking up a championship for us," he said.

– CNN Political Reporter Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

Also see:

Gingrich sins 'well short of the glory of God'

Santorum's war on teleprompters

Gibbs: Kansas was 'instructive' for Romney

Former presidential candidates play pundit

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (151 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Most people in the middle class also call billionaires their good friends, and have them over for cook puts frequently.

    March 12, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The gaffer only shows that, Mitt is unfit.

    March 12, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. aaron

    So, if Romney gets elected president, who's he going to be looking out for? His billionaire friends....OR the poor and middle-class people whose votes he covets at the moment? Best guess is the billionaires will have his full attention.

    March 12, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. JIMM

    Oops, looks like Romney just can't stop flaunting his wealth. Surprise, surprise.

    March 12, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. Dan

    Ok, so because he is friends with weathly people, that makes him a turn off? Most people know someone who has money, maybe not as much, but a friend is a friend not because of their wealth, but because of the relationship that is built. It is unfortunate that this article will most likely cause a stir and his remarks, but the man has friends and some of his friends have money. What is the big deal? Another question, why is Romney such a turn off to people? Everyone has their opinions, most people views either have some sort of alteration the older we get, the more we deal with those issues. I just don't understand when you have a candidate like Mitt Romney who – if for no other reason – is a successful business man. He has succeeded at basically everything he has ever done. Business, the Olympics, his family – as a husband and as a father. And yet, this "rich friends" is a big deal?

    March 12, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Really? This is news? Obama is friends with countless celebrities, athletes and Warren Buffet and good for him. There's nothing wrong with that and he is no more out of touch with the average American because of it.

    March 12, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  7. Just Say No to Flipper

    Rmoney is the comedic gift that just keeps on giving. Although that bit about hugging 12 year old girls was kind of creepy, in a Warren Jeffords kind of way.

    March 12, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    I don't get what the point of this story. Is Mitt Romney supposed to shun his friends now or somehow feel bad that he has friends who also happen to be very successful Americans? At the same time, will you also write an anti-Obama story because he has been chumming with wealthy Wall Street Hedge Fund Managers, throwing fundraisers to grab their cash and the same thing with the Hollywood entertainment elite?

    Here's yesterday's news. Mitt Romney is very successful. More power to him. He earned it. He's a bright guy. In fact, I hope we finally get a bright, successful guy in the White House because this country has some world-class problems to get fixed. I think we have learned to look for someone with a track record for fixing problems. Romney 2012!

    March 12, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  9. knowndoyen

    Enough already with the out of touch line. Romney called some people friends. Why is the media telling us how to think? I don't personal know Mr. Romney and I'm far from being rich but when someone calls someone else a friend it is not a bad thing. It is always good to have friends. So the media leaning Obama backing is once again getting on someone they do not know. We have a person from what I can see able to connect on many levels. Romney is grounded in his cause and that cause is getting the US back to work and getting us on the path to being debt free. Like I said I hope the media gives this line a rest. If anything Romney is in touch with what is wrong and more importantly he knows how to fix it.

    March 12, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. Jilli

    Another display of just how socially inept romney is – he can't talk football – what kind of American is he? He doesn't know squat about the sport, just owners.

    Listening to details of his excellent southern adventure, you'd swear he was traveling in a foreign country – or to another planet, not the southern US.

    This man just makes my skin crawl.

    March 12, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  11. Larry in Houston

    LOL – This is a funny article – If it wasn't for the "middle class" ( which is dwindling) or the " Low Class" ( means the poorest of the Poor)( or welfare class) The Billionaire Owners of those Ball Teams ( Pro Football & Pro Basketball) Would Have Nevr Gotten to Be Billionaires in The First Place. If they relied on Me, or my money to pay for tickets to those big games that You can watch on T.V. those Owners would be "middle class" – lol

    March 12, 2012 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  12. Nick

    Of course he is out of touch. He is friends with the owners of this and the managers of that. The same people who will benefit from all of his programs while the rest of the country struggles. I am all for Capitalism. If you earn your money you should be able to do what you want to do with it. My issue is that all of these politicans are in bed with the corporations and that policy is driven by greed instead of what is best for America. It's a shame that Americans have to be under the thumb of every rich politiican who is only looking to line his/her pockets at the expense of the American taxpayer under the guise of Congressman or Senator. Filthy, Self Serving, and Corrupt....

    March 12, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  13. GOP Hate America

    lets see now.... corporations are people my friend, some of my best friends are owners (of NASCAR), im not worried about the super poor they got safety nets, ......see a pattern and the worst part about this is that he is leaps and bounds better than that christian inbreed santorum

    March 12, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  14. Katie B from NC

    Poor Mitt, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth. (With apologies to former Gov. Ann Richards of Texas.)

    March 12, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  15. Dan

    I just don't understand when you have a candidate like Mitt Romney who – if for no other reason – is a successful business man. He has succeeded at basically everything he has ever done. Business, the Olympics, his family – as a husband and as a father. And yet, this "rich friends" is a big deal?

    March 12, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  16. jocko

    He also made points with the gun owners when it was obvious that he doesn't know which end of the gun is which. But, he is the number one clown in the car.

    March 12, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  17. Nathan

    So he's supposed to go around pretending he doesn't have any rich friends? Because a person who has friends who are rich can't possibly relate to the average guy. Really?

    March 12, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. Thomas

    A person as wealthy as Romney could help the country more not being President. He could help himself and friends more as President.

    At least Prince Charles sons volunteered for military service. Unlike Mitt's five sons.

    March 12, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  19. edward

    just another showing of his wealthy friends helping him buy the GOP.

    March 12, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. bill

    Would you rather he be friends with Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, Van Jones, Bernandine Dohrn and Tony Rezco?

    March 12, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  21. TPF

    I am also friends with 2 billionaire's, but I am for sure just middle class. So what, every one of us knows someone that is wealthy and are just as normal as we are. I am happy for them and don't envy them at all, most worked hard to get that way and were just in the right place at the right time. And I bet that I am happier than any of them. I'm pretty sure that Bill Clinton was friends with many billionaires and so were both Bush's and Kennedy. So who cares.

    March 12, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. Jo

    Why wouldn't he be friends with football owners?? Makes sense to me... more sense than if he would be good friends with the concession worker at the game. Successful people have successful friends... only makes sense...We pick leaders from the ranks of highly successful people not the less successful. He is not Out of Touch...he gets this country and the plight of the everyday person...that is why he is running to help save our economy and our get the program and start supporting someone with brains and yes, rich and powerful friends too.

    March 12, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. Justin

    This article is just stupid. So what if he's a millionaire and has billionaire friends. This is just petty nitpicking! Jealousy is ugly and its stands out in this ridiculous article.

    March 12, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  24. skytag

    I think Romney would really care about the poor and the middle class, if he knew they existed.

    March 12, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    No sugar coating Mitt, he will never understand having to scrape by, digging in the piggy bank for pizza day for your kids school lunch. I've done that and other belt tightening. But we got through those years and would never vote for somebody who hasn't a clue what that life is all about. He might be a nice man, but we need somebody of the people.

    March 12, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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