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. foxdox

    he's not the right choice for president by any means. i've never seen a candidate with the ability to convince me that he doesn't have the interest of most americans in mind. wwwwaaayyyyy out of touch.

    March 13, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney could have a plumber for a friend, if he hadn't fired him.

    March 13, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  3. Ray

    And I'm sure Obama has absolutely no billionaire friends or donors. Double-standard anyone? And what are we saying here – that it is bad to be friends with anyone who earns more than a set amount? How stupid has our political dialog become?

    March 13, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    But he stumbled back into the rich and out-of-touch narrative on Monday
    Look, this is so unfair to Romney. He did NOT "stumble" back into anything. This is ALL Romney knows. In Romney' s world there is no unemployment, there is no Medicare, there is no health insurance issues because they and the people they know are all rolling in the dough. It is almost like asking someone who speaks english to all of a sudden start speaking AND understanding greek. The fact that Romney can afford to travel to Greece as often as he wants does not mean that he can speak their language.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    March 13, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. lkottis

    this is news? So What? Is this the first President (to-be) that has wealthy people for friends?

    March 13, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  6. sbssue1

    If Romney has this kind of friend, it's good enough for me. It speaks for itself. He has intelligence, know how and the ability to help jump start our country. He's not dictating that everyone should be Catholic and preach to the choir. He wants to help get us back to work, generate energy and educate us. Those who think different than that are just not thinking.

    March 13, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  7. shades

    I dont thinka LIBERAL news source shoul dbe poking fun at "rich, elete political backers" dont you think?

    March 13, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  8. paul

    Not fit to become president. You can be a fan of a team but no class to attack football players personally.

    March 13, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  9. RightCoastVA

    Yeah, how dare the man have friends. He's totally out of touch with those of us who...uh....don't have friends?

    March 13, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  10. drp146

    Once again rich guy Romney proves how out of touch he is with ordinary Americans. He has absolutely no idea what it's like to live without wealth, since he was born into it.

    March 13, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  11. ST

    The witches know their fellow witches. Who is surprised to hear Romney calling billionaire as his fellow friends. He is one of them.

    March 13, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  12. Terry

    Keep up the good work Mitty misstep. I wonder if he knows the price of a gallon of milk????

    March 13, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. coy4one

    Keep it up will assure a second term for Mr. Obama!

    March 13, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. RudyG

    Lets put all those billionaires in jail! Lets get rid of big business. Lets redistribute their wealth and give it to the poor. Lets vilify all those sinister businessmen who rob us of our opportunities! We should do all that and work our half acre plots of land, cultivating tomatoes and fruits, or sweep floors for a living, and save all our pennies every day. Because those are the only jobs there will be.
    Romney is a good businessman. BUSINESSMAN means he makes money, employs others, and they can in turn make a decent living. Perfect? No! Good for the economy? YES! But, CNN of course already has its own agenda. We all know what it is.....
    Yes, he's friends with billionaires. Good for him that he's been skilled enough to get that far up in the food chain. When the rest of us learn to take the risks and work as smart as he has, all within the rules, we can be there too. Get it envy nation?
    That's what brought nations down and made them communist – ENVY!!

    March 13, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  15. vatoloke

    It's not that Romney and his mrs. are super wealth, it's that I'm super-poor.

    March 13, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. Ken in MD

    Oh brother...

    March 13, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  17. Fernando

    Wow! What a surprise! Mitt has rich friends and he's honest about it!
    Now, the other two Rep. candidates, as well as Pres. Obama (I don't know about Ron Paul) are also backed by billionaire friends, but they pretend such friends don't exist. I guess their hypocrisy and false humility makes them more "in touch" with average Americans.
    When we get to a point where success becomes a sin in this country, you know some real change is needed.

    March 13, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. 305

    lol..this guy Romney did he no what is the pays rate here in Unite state i think he live in other world .i m a Conservative i will not even think to vote for this guy go to your rich friends take a vacation with them no body care about your billionaires friends.

    March 13, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. once upon a horse

    Oh I just LOVE the right wing comebacks. Does Obama have rich friends? I'm sure he does. Does he go around talking about them on the campaign trail? Well if he did the far right would attack him and say he was out of touch with a majority of Americans. Face it Mitt has said this is who he is at that is NOT going to change. Accept it or don't vote for him, I choose to do the latter.

    March 13, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Frank

    Obama's friend is one of the richest individuals in the world. Among his billionaire supporters are Opera, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates. and George Soros. Rich people can't have friends?

    March 13, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Lolo

    One thing about the republican poor, they are seriously not getting it. Mitt and his friends want to keep you poor. He cares nothing about you. All he wants is your vote and he will be laughing because you were foolish enough to believe his rhetoric. He is so out of touch with normal people. Even his wife is out of touch. These people have lived in a bubble all of their lives. Noboby wants the rich to give their money to the poor, we just want them to pay their fair share of taxes and stop using the middle class to take care of them. I just don't get these republicans, but then again I think I know where their heads are in the long run and they are definitely not patriotic Americans as they like to potray themselves. I repeat Mitt just wants to be president to leave a legacy for his sons since his father couldn't pull it off. I don't care how much education people get you still have to have common sense and from what I have seen in the republican party none of the candidates have this asset, especially Mittens. To hear him talking about eating southern cuisine is a hoot. Also about the hugs from Southern girls makes him sound like a pedophile. You republicans just need to accept the truth that your nominees do not have their heads screwed on tight.

    March 13, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. cropp

    Whats the story here: Romney has friends? Romney is rich? Romney likes the Patriots? Romeny is a Tom Brady fan?

    March 13, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. Orchid333

    He just keeps digg'n his own grave.

    March 13, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Randy, San Francisco

    Suirprise...surprise! You didn't expect Romney to be buddies to the ticket collector, janitor, or hot dog vendor at the stadium?

    March 13, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  25. Darlene

    This is pure stupidity! I could care less if Romney has billiionaire friends, the man is not in my class, however, he is smart, successful and has a good financial track record, that is what I want in a President, not someone that will invite me over for coffee. For decades we have had Presidents that are rich, or have rich and powerful acquaintances, why now is it such a deciding factor in the voting process. Get over it, Romney is rich, he has lived on his and his family's money, he has not gotten rich sitting in Washington on our dime like the other 2 that is running for the GOP top spot. The issues of Romney's money and friends is more about green envy than being out of touch!!

    March 13, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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