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. Malory Archer

    I'm sure that that John Kerry, Hillary/Bill Clinton, even PRESIDENT Obama DO have wealthy friends. They just don't feel the need to name drop every chance they get. Mittens has become a boor with his "I'm really rich schpele!

    March 13, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  2. jag

    Yeah, and he definately will look out for the working class. The dude is clearly trying to get elected to help out his buddies.

    March 13, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    We can do this until the cows come home. No one cares about his billionaire friends. Yes Big George, Obama has billionaire friends and donors. THE POINT IS that Mittens does NOT know how to interact with regular people, and our President does.
    Find something else to argue about, and please, LEARN TO SPELL. Capisce?
    Obama 2012.

    March 13, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Chris

    Let's hire the guy that isn't succesful to be the President. That way he won't have any other succesful friends and we can all feel special again

    March 13, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Considering that Willard Romney is not an average American, he should be careful about name dropping. Makes him look even more out of touch. Romney is a male Palin, he opens his mouth just to stick his foot in it! Good grief, Republicans, don't you people have a brilliant candidate to offer America?

    I am a registered Independent supporting the sane candidate, President Obama.

    March 13, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. LacrosseMom(real one)

    CNN is just being truthful! And saying what most Americans are thinking! Romney IS extremely wealthy! SO?

    However, in this day and age when the Middle & Working Classes have NOT seen a RAISE in their wages in over a decade, Mitt Romney and his owner friends....... are totally out of touch with America!

    March 13, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. judith

    Richie Rich puts his foot in it again. Romney is so out of touch with ordinary people that he might as well reside on the Planet Melmac. Good Lord, how could he ever relate to the needs of working people when he's never been one. I am nauseated every time Mittens speaks–if this is the best the GOP can do, they're sunk.

    March 13, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Let's hire the guy that isn't succesful to be the President. That way he won't have any other succesful friends and we can all feel special again"

    Or maybe we'll just hire the rich, successful guy who somehow was able, where Mittens was not, to maintain some understanding of and empathy for what it's like to be middle-class in America. Robot Mittens is not that guy.

    March 13, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Steve


    @Steven Bannister: Obama is not trying to run away from his wealthy friends, Romney is.
    The only reason Romney has to defend himself is because the MEDIA makes this a story for him so YES he does have to run away from his friends because the MEDIA doesn't hit Obama on his. There is no Freedom of the press anymore, it's all propaganda to get one side re-elected

    March 13, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Wake up people

    I don't think it matters that he is rich, it's just everytime he opens his mouth he seems to be bragging, which isn't the thing to do when so many families can barely afford to eat. It's like the Cadillac comment. Why didn't he just say his family drives GM cars? Why talk about his caddies when he was completely against the auto bailout and wanted Detroit to go bankrupt? Say what you want he is completely out of touch with the average person.

    March 13, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. ME

    It isn't that Mitt has rich friends. It's that he constantly reminds everyone, probably unintentionally, that socially he moves an entirely different world from the average person. This isn't a man that can relate to your every day person. Seriously, when unemployment was higher than it was now, he told unemployed people that he, too, was without a job. Who would be so dense and insensitive than someone who is so out of touch?

    March 13, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. yahmez the mad

    I'm sure all his billionaire friends will vote for him, guaranteeing he will get at least 1% of the vote.

    March 13, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    Wake up people
    ... Why talk about his caddies when he was completely against the auto bailout and wanted Detroit to go bankrupt? ...
    Uhhhhh, this is kind of awkward, but you do know that GM and Chrysler did actually go bankrupt. Don't you? Obama and his high poweres taxpayer checkbook didn't keep that from happening. And you do know that the GM stock price has to double from where it is at for the US Treasury to break even on it's investment. Don't you?

    March 13, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. Jared

    Who cares who he is friends with. I can't believe, with all the problems America is facing, that CNN would report on this. We should be concerned about the real issues and leave behind the High School mentality of who is friends with who.

    March 13, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    The only reason Romney has to defend himself is because the MEDIA makes this a story for him so YES he does have to run away from his friends
    You're making excuses for him a la Sarah Palin. Media this, and media that. The MEDIA is not putting words into your boy's mouth. He's coming across as a stilted, robotic, 1%er who does not have the first clue how to interact with the bottom rung of the 99%ers whose vote he is so intent on getting...but isn't.

    March 13, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. BostonianNThe WoodlandsTx

    Four and the Door,

    I'm sure most people don't have a problem who his friends are. But everything he's said and that I know about him tells me he can't relate to me,or the average american.

    The average americans friends are cops, fire fighters,roofers,auto mechanics,7-11 clerks,bus drivers,nurses,maids,maintenance men,etc.

    Again,no one cares who he's friends with. But 1. Stop the name dropping. Most of don't care. 2. Has Romeny at any point in his life lived the life of an average american ? Thus can he understand the average american ?

    I dare the President lived a life close r to many americans than Romney. Yeah we know he lived overseas,blah,blah.

    But he also lived with his grandparents for a great deal of time. His dad was pretty much out of the picture and parents divorced,mother a single mom. He wrote about and admitted to drugand alcohol use in high school.

    Romney was born on 3rd base. Nothing wrong with that. If you can great. But his life......his world has always been much further removed than Obama's.

    While the president was 8 at the height of Vietnam, it is also nice to see Mittens got student deferements.

    How convenient.........

    March 13, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. deb0155

    I do not know why the media keeps making a big deal about Romney and his wealthy friends. All of our politicians are extremely wealthy (i.e., Nancy Pelosi worth $200 million; the Clintons, the Obamas, John Kerry, the Kennedys, and on and on and on). Since when do we start trashing wealthy people in this country? Personally, I don't care how wealthy any of the candidates are – what I care about is a candidate who can get this country back on its feet again. That should be our main concern. All this talk dividing the wealthy against the middle class and poor sounds like a lot of jealousy to me. I am an average, working class citizen in this country and, believe me, I do not begrudge the wealthy – I have a job because of someone very rich who gave me a job!

    March 13, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    You know, if you read through the remarks coming from the right and the left, the only remarks making Romney's wealth out to be a bad thing are those remarks coming from the right. The remarks coming from the left are observations of what his wealth has done to his character.

    Not everyone who is wealthy acts like they have lived in a decadent bubble for most of their lives, but Mitt Romney does. His personal lifestyle is looking more and more like an artificial environoment, completely manufactured to the owner's specs.

    March 13, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  19. Keith A. Sillsbury

    What I get out of this is his whole US and THEM mindset. "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." REALLY? in our neck of the woods? have YOU ever been in the woods? Maybe you've seen it from your car, or on the other side of the gate but, YOUR neck of the woods? I don't know where that is.

    March 13, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. cf

    Romney is too out of touch. It's been a long time since Romney (or any of the GOP candiates) have had to worry about the price of anything, putting food on the table, how the utility bill is getting paid. How can we expect him to relate to the common man, to middle and lower class working Americans? I honestly don't think he realizes that there are people in America with no money. How can we therefore expect him to understand and represent those 99% of us? Somebody at one of the debates should have asked of the candidates the price of a gallon of milk. Or a loaf of bread. Or the average monthly water bill for a regular American family. None of them would know the answer.

    March 13, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. John Zimmerman Sr.

    Further proof that politics is nothing but a money game.

    It's concerning that the topic of wealth and his "pedigree" lifestyle keep coming up almost everywhere he goes. And HE'S the one bringing it up.

    No wonder America's on the decline. How are the average Joe's supposed to feel safe in a country led by a man like this?

    When are we going to get back to the values that America was founded on? I touch on this subject in my new book, American Adrift: Right the Course. Not solely trying to plug my book (although if you check it out, it would be much appreciated!), but it's interesting how relevant it's becoming.

    March 13, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Jean Esselink

    Romney can't win. You are on him for not being "authentic" all the time. Then when he tries to be himself, and talks about his team owning friends or his wife's Cadillacs, you are all over him for being an out of touch rich guy. For Romney "authentic IS out of touch rich guy. So take your pick.

    March 13, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Tonda Prince

    OH now cnn is looking into Friends....what happened to the coverage of Obama's friends....? (cricket sounds) What about Obama's friend Soros...?

    March 13, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. PeterD

    There is absolutely nothing wrong to have billionaire Friends CNN.

    March 13, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Malory Archer

    deb0155 sounds a lot like the horse from Animal Farm, and we all know how that turned out!

    March 13, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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