Romney joke draws Democratic criticism
March 28th, 2012
10:13 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney joke draws Democratic criticism

(CNN) – To Mitt Romney, it was a humorous story about his father’s gubernatorial campaign and a marching band. But Democrats saw it as an illustration of an “out-of-touch” millionaire.

On a Wednesday morning conference call with Wisconsin voters, the presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts governor joked about how his father, the American Motors president who went on to be governor of Michigan, joked that a band leading his father in a parade didn’t know the Michigan fight song, but knew the one for neighboring Wisconsin.

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“So every time they would start playing, ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” Romney said, chuckling.

By “moved production,” Romney was referring to his father’s decision to “close the factory in Michigan and move all of the production to Wisconsin.”

“And so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all of the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign,” Romney said of his father.

Any response – positive or negative – wasn’t audible to reporters, and on such conference calls, participants are usually muted unless invited to ask a question.

But Democrats pounced on his comment.

"The only things more out-of-touch than Mitt Romney’s 'joke' about his dad closing a factory are his policies that would give massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions,” Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s reelection effort, said. “He continues to be callous about the struggles that ordinary Americas face and his policies would make it harder – not easier – for anyone but the very wealthy to succeed."

The Democratic National Committee said “Romney just doesn’t seem to get it.”

“Mitt Romney may call himself a ‘Son of Detroit’ but he just can’t help showing how out of touch he really is. Whether he’s saying we should ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’ or joking with voters in Wisconsin about his dad closing a Michigan factory to move production to Wisconsin, Romney just doesn’t seem to get it,” the DNC said in a statement.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, described this as an example of intra-national outsourcing.

"The people of Michigan know better than anyone that it's no laughing matter when our jobs are exported to other states or other countries. Outsourcing has had a devastating impact on the middle class,” she said in a statement. “Americans deserve leaders who understand the challenges working families face. It’s no laughing matter when jobs are shipped away."

In response, a spokesperson for Romney's campaign pointed to the car dealerships closed during Obama's first term in office.

"Under President Obama, more Americans have lost their jobs, lost their homes and fallen into poverty than at any time since the Great Depression," Amanda Henneberg said. "It’s clear the Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid talking about Obama’s colossal failures, including ginning up fake outrage about a campaign story from 40 years ago involving Mitt Romney’s father.”

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Carlos

    Moving production from a state to another? Business make these decisions all the time based on costs. Competitiveness is at the heart of capitalism. When did that change in America?

    March 29, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  2. Attila, The Hun

    Those in Wisconsin thought the move was great and the joke hilarious. What one see's is in the eye of the beholder.

    March 29, 2012 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. ned

    Democrats are a veritable hive of bees when there is a whiff of money mentioned in connection with Romney, no matter how far it is removed from what he is actually saying. It's called confirmation bias.

    March 29, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  4. J

    Because God forbid we hear any personal stories.........

    March 29, 2012 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  5. labman57

    Mitt's favorite song: 99 pink slips to send down the hall ...
    You send one down, they pass it around ...

    March 29, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  6. Morning1Sun

    Romney can't even joke without showing his true colors. How can you compare our President to Romney. The things he says is down right crude with no thought to the consequences. Obama doesn't have to pretend to be nice because he is a nice person. He is comfortable in his own skin. When the President speaks he speaks the truth that is why he hardly stumbles and has a cool posture about him. His manners are respectable. Romney is a big bafoone, Newt is a foolish ole man and should take Calista on a long vacation. Santourum should spend quality time with his kids and forget about being President. Ron Paul retire and go fishing. I wish the race was over with and President Obama can get some serious policies in place. Romney should go spend his money in the American economy. Go buy his sons new cars and donate lots of money to the poor and middle class.

    March 29, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  7. royboy

    It's a bird, it's a plane, Oh it's just Willard.

    March 29, 2012 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  8. Church

    Race is not the battle between Americans.
    The economic divide is the true battlefield.

    March 29, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  9. Austin

    LOL Democrats are a joke! What happened to Solyndra again??? Wasn't it a year ago that Obama was praising the company! But lets talk about Romney's dad? 50 years ago is obviously way more important that a year ago. Time to save this country from left nut loons! Romney 2012

    March 29, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |

    Mitt McCain is a gaffe a minute and the GOBP are stuck with him. Obama/Biden 2012!

    March 29, 2012 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  11. Chris, PharmD - Independent

    Are Democrat leaders really that sensitive or are they getting desperate?

    There have been far worse jokes made by people from both parties so Democrat leaders are obviously out of touch as well.

    March 29, 2012 05:32 am at 5:32 am |
  12. Jerry

    The real politicians "out-of-touch" are my fellow Democrats. Because they are supporting a clueless/divisive/hypocritical/know-nothing candidate for president, any minor comment or joke will incense them.

    What a shame. My party has been hijacked by the lies of Obama and his administration.

    PLEASE don't do anything until I am reelected for another term. That says IT ALL!!!

    March 29, 2012 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  13. winky

    What a dumb dumb

    March 29, 2012 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  14. Marie MD

    Like father like son. Just like you are not really from Michigan since you had rather seen the automobile industry be flushed down the toilet. Seems like the closing down of companies/factories and destroying lives is what your family does best. Nothing funny and certainly nothing to be proud of!
    How's the building of that huge mansion of yours in California going? I heard the other day, and it seemed so BIG that I am having trouble wrapping my middle class brain around it, that your basement is a mere 32,000 square feet?
    That's larger than my whole house!

    March 29, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  15. Scott

    These Democrats are a sorry bunch. They are so afraid come November that they try to make a political statement out of a joke. What the Dem's do not realize is they are the joke.

    March 29, 2012 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  16. Orwell shrugs

    It would appear there are three 1% jokes: foolish Michigans elected his father governor, moving jobs out Michigan, and hiring newt's janitors that know only one song.

    March 29, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  17. clarke

    Where he comes from, I am sure that is a funny.

    March 29, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  18. diridi

    If he is a son of Detroit, why did he say, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt...." NY Times. Ha...Folks, none of these four, especially this Mittens, not fit for any "Public-Elect" position. True, true, and true.
    PS: this election is Rich v/s Middle Class America.

    March 29, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  19. T'sah From Virginia

    The Democrats have a closet full of GAFFS categorized and in alphabetical order
    coming from Romney, and they can chose and pick any time they want and begin their slaughter
    Romney is so out of touch to the point where he doesn't even realize when he’s in a pan frying!
    He constantly sounds like a "fast-talking" salesman and the majority of Americans are NOT BUYING!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!

    March 29, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  20. Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Is Soo Plastic he Makes Mannequins Looks Real

    My Daddy shut down factories and I've never really worked a hard day in my life. I like firing people like my dad, raid companies as a "vulture capitalist" like my dad, and stash my wealth in Swiss bank accounts and the Caymen Island like my dad!!!!

    Who's your daddy? Now make me president!!. What a Jerk.

    March 29, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
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