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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Romney's explanation of health care on Leno show that Mittens is a heartless, lying, flip flopping, privileged elitist.

    March 28, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. Thomas

    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.”

    Then years later Mitt Romney in a leverage buyout moved the factory to China at taxpayers expense.

    March 28, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Melo-D

    Romney better have really good mouthwash because that boot he keeps sticking in his mouth can't taste good. Romney is an uber rich elitist, you know the same thing the GOP railed against in '08. Oh the irony...

    March 28, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Bryce

    Awwww boohoo! Maybe you Dems can start a government sponsored tissue campaign to get free tissues that taxpayers pay for... It still won't help you from being a whiny crybaby though. It happened 40+ years ago... I'd say it's time to let it go. Plus they relocated the factory, not closed it. So they HIRED people in Wisconsin. Grow up libs

    March 28, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  5. Blindersoff

    “Americans deserve leaders who understand the challenges working families face. It’s no laughing matter when jobs are shipped away." And another thing Mr. Etch-A-Sketch!

    March 28, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  6. S. B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If there was $1,000 given to a charity for every time that Romney did this kind of thing, there would be some very happy charities. He is too wealthy to really understand the middle class and know what needs to get done to support the poor.

    March 28, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  7. GOP Observer

    The Democrats are so full of themselves -- double standards - hypocricy - distortions - and out of touch with reality.

    March 28, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  8. TomNPitt

    Doo – Fuss !!
    He keeps talking about firing people and moving factories!
    Was his whole life about playing Monopoly?

    March 28, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. Reggie from LA

    Try to understand what out of touch means folks. It's not just a condition, it's an indicator of how we will be treated. Romney is accustomed to taking things away from people and can live with himself. When he convinces you to vote for him, he's off to the country club. You, John Q Public, ain't invited. When he comes out of the party after mixin' it up with the other 1%ers who are there, they (they're all in it together and don't forget it) are going to make decisions that will benefit them. Then you'll say, "what about us?" That's what those companies' workers asked before he and Bain gutted them. Just remember what Romney said, in a word or two. "Good bye. This is for the best". Sounds to me like someone out of touch and you will sound like you've been sold out. Don't be mad at him. He will just have been himself.

    March 28, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  10. Jariv

    Stupid Democrats!!! So silly. Can't talk about the real issues and their failed government.

    March 28, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  11. T in Dallas

    Like father like son...poor rich folks, they don't understand why the commoners don't grasp the punch line of their jokes about shuttering factories in the name of profit...

    March 28, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  12. Carl

    *GASP* – he moved jobs to...WISCONSIN? HOW DARE wait...his father? This is a non-story. Come on dems, you can't do better than that?

    March 28, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  13. ourjungle

    Mitt Romney's father's actions is old history;whereas, Obama wants to give away our missle defense system,according to his hot mic pleads to Russia.

    March 28, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  14. Voltaire

    Mitt has the sickest sounding chuckle and callous describes him best. He has a dollar sigh in place of a soul.

    March 28, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  15. Run

    Away! Mitt, your out of your league!LOL

    March 28, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  16. histoiregeek

    Wow – this guy never learns...

    March 28, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  17. Alan

    Oh give it a rest libs. Mitt will be the next President, and his business acumen will save the nation from your attempted destruction and subsequent spin.

    March 29, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  18. sadtoloseouramerica

    Like father like son like this whole republican party of misfits. One big joke. 99% are not laughing.

    March 29, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  19. nena

    All this guy wants is to say that he was POTUS, he has no intentions of representing us ordinary folks to the best of his ability. It's like having it all and now what else is there to life. He is a callous, arrogant man that deserves to lose the nomination and just go home to his mansion with his many cadillacs. He has absolutely no love for this country and no love for the people. And, he is so dumb, how the heck has he reached this level in life. He is a very strange character.

    March 29, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. vosky

    Republicans are in political mess with this one. Wait for more serious gaffes during general election campaign. Romney is the most overrated republican "nominee" in history

    March 29, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  21. Scef

    I guess the joke is funny if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. As if he ever had to struggle financially. He is an arrogant, elitest oppressor who doesn't know the first thimg about the middle or lower middle class, or the poor.

    March 29, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  22. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Most people forget that Romney's father was not only a bad businessman, he was a lousy governor. Being a Michigander, I can attest to that.

    March 29, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  23. ben

    Really whats the pont of writing this

    March 29, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  24. ha

    Things r coming out little by little .

    March 29, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  25. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Romney will go down in flames again in Dem landslide with of the teapublican morons, thanks teaparty clowns.

    March 29, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
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