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. walter wood

    Mitt is a likeable person; but in reality he is totally out of touch with middle class americans. He should be teaching a for- profit course on "Foreclosure For Fun and Profit".....

    March 12, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. Trix Daddio

    So other politicians including the President don't have rich friends? I have an idea, we should punish everyone who has been successful and ever made money. While we are at it, let's put a moron in the White House who has never made a dime or been successful at anything because that would make sense to have a guy like that run the country.

    March 12, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. Mark

    Is this new information? We already know he has rich friends. What President doesn't have rich friends? Oh, yeah, all of them have PAC's with lots of money.

    March 12, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  4. drickles

    I am a middle income professional. Instead of saying that I am friends with other professionals whom I met at various social and professional events over the years, I should say that I am friends with the poor and homeless? What nonsense is this? Romney is rich. Get over it.

    March 12, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. out of step

    The guy is an out of touch name dropper. Hey, btw, I noticed that Foxworthy said most of your crowd today was smarter then a 5th grader...not a 6th grader... but smarter then a 5th grader. This simple comment explains alot.

    March 12, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. parnell in canada

    This is a story?

    March 12, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. swisscottage

    This is a story? That a rich guys has rich friends? Please.

    March 12, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. paulm5545

    So this is where we are at now? That a presidential candidate saying he has wealthy friends is somehow a "misstep?" It would seem to me that if you are as successful as Romney, Obama or anyone of that caliber, then you are going to have wealthy friends. Geez, folks. Anyone running for president is wealthy or has wealthy friends. It takes a very ambitious and successful individual with or at least access to a lot of money. Reality.

    March 12, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. CPPray

    As a fellow New Englander and Patriots fan (since way back when Mitt-ens was still a Lion's fan) in reference to his comments on Payton Manning need not apply with the Pat's since we already have a pretty good quarterback – I'd say the same about him looking at the Presidency – we already have a pretty good one. Mitt-ens need not apply.

    March 12, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. johnny

    not even close to the same thing as the nascar comment, this isn't a story worth writing.

    March 12, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  11. Former Republican, now an Independent

    There is a whole lot the country doesn't know about this out of touch politician, but what little we do know isn't good

    March 12, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. Cindy

    Southeners will not vote for him as he is not a Christian. Franklin Graham has publicly said so.

    March 12, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. TJeff1776

    Some more media attempts to keep a neck and neck race. Its easy to pick out anything at all and call it a gaffe. Oh well, whatever it takes to keep a good man down.

    March 12, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. David in FL

    this is news? next.

    March 12, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  15. Peng

    Seriously? I'm really getting sick of this blown out of proportion narrative. He has rich friends. So what? That just shows me that he's well connected, something that is certainly important for whoever is president. President Obama has rich friends. Gingrich, and Santorum both have rich friends. I'm really not sure about Ron Paul, but he probably does too. Out of all that was said in this interview the only thing that gets reported is the one thing that could be construed as negative?

    March 12, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    Look, the problem is not that Mittens' friends are billionaires; it's that Mittens is trying to sell himself as a "regular guy" who's "in touch with the average American," and there's no way in Hades he is!

    Mittens and so many of his investor-class friends made their millions and billions without regard to what it did to "average Americans," whose sole concern was padding the bottom line, regardless of the destruction to the American economy and American worker they left in their wake.

    Mittens' economic and financial ideas are wrong for our country – PERIOD!

    March 12, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  17. Matt

    A guy worth lots of money knows other rich people, oh the horror! I am sure that Obama has said on occasion that he is friends with Warren Buffet...folks this just isn't a big deal. I understand that the media likes to take as many shots at Romney as possible but this one is just stupid.

    March 12, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  18. Deephaven

    Romney just seems to be eternally impressed with himself, his wealth, and his powerful friends. It would be nice if he learned a little humility.

    March 12, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Another non-news article... Who cares? So a rich guy has rich friends. If a rich guy didn't have rich friends, that might be a reason not to vote for him.

    March 12, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. Bill

    This is interesting. I will follow the outcome.

    March 13, 2012 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  21. Bill

    I wouldn't want a President who is a financial failure. Romney's successes should be considered assets.

    March 13, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  22. smell the coffee

    Anyone who thinks Romney is a hero for the people should have their head examined.

    March 13, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. Piranha Soup

    Give Mittens a break.
    His wifes Caddy once splashed some poor people.

    March 13, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    Check out the lone brother mugging for the camera!
    I wonder how much that type of GOP fill-in job pays these days?!

    March 13, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  25. John

    Why does Mitt Romney give throwing his Millionaire and Billionaire friend In the American People faces. We all know that the Republican Party Is all about the Rich. This man has no clue about the Middle Class or the Poor and the Old.

    March 13, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
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