Romney donor pulls support, backs Obama, over same-sex marriage
May 14th, 2012
04:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney donor pulls support, backs Obama, over same-sex marriage

(CNN) – A well-known, openly gay supporter of Mitt Romney in New York has decided to withdraw his support for Romney and back President Barack Obama instead.

The clincher: Romney's stance on same-sex marriage.

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"I feel that I no longer wish to support your presidential campaign and ask that you please return the maximum contribution that I gave to you last year," Bill White wrote in a letter addressed to the former Massachusetts governor and obtained by CNN.

"You have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and I do not support your run for president any longer," White added.

CNN contacted the Romney campaign but did not receive a response.

White is the chairman and CEO of the New York-based consulting firm Constellations Group. He was previously the president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – the cultural and educational institution whose major presence is the floating World War II Intrepid aircraft carrier sitting on the Hudson River. White told CNN he has advocated on behalf of injured and fallen veterans for 20 years - being awarded the Meritorious Public Service Award from the Coast Guard and from the Navy.

White told CNN he is a registered independent who has supported both Republicans and Democrats in the past, including former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. FEC records show that White contributed to both Republicans and Democrats over the years, including Hillary Clinton in 2008. Most recently, White gave $2,500 to Romney for President, Inc., according to FEC records.

White began his letter to Romney stating, "I am currently a max donor to your 2012 presidential campaign." He did not fundraise for the Romney campaign, though he said his partner and some friends also contributed to Romney.

In his letter, White goes on to mention the president's public announcement of his personal support for same-sex marriage last week.

"Several days later this past Saturday to a packed stadium of young college students you made the following statement that 'Marriage is only between one man and one woman,'" White wrote, referring to Romney's recent commencement address to Liberty University, an evangelical school in Lynchburg, Virginia.

"I believe that you will do as you now say and try to force a constitutional amendment which would attempt to make my own legal and blessed marriage null and void."

In an interview with CNN, White explained his stance.

"I felt we gave 'Hope and Change' a chance and I was looking for something different," White said.

"Quite frankly, I was not supporting Barack Obama – I was supporting Mitt Romney. And my support is not just words or my vote, it's also putting my money where my mouth is."

White said he does not agree with the president on fiscal policy – something he sides more with Romney on.

"I just think we're spending probably money that we don't have," he said.

And yet, White said: "I'm looking at the television screen one day and I see my president – whether I'm Republican or Democrat, he is my president…and I'm looking at him doing one thing, one day. And two days later, I'm looking at a guy who I'm supporting for president, and who I want to be my president and who I've given my money to, to be president, saying something I didn't think he would be saying."

CNN pressed White: Why now, given that Romney's stance is not new?

"I had a very visceral reaction to him – he had a great opportunity… to get on the right side of history," White responded. "And to be someone to the country that helps to unite us, versus what divides us. And I just think his very proactive intention to pounce on this issue now has sent me to the other side."

"Now, I feel like he's declared war on my marriage. And I could just sit back and not say anything. Or I could do something about it. And I've chosen to do something about it."

Following news of the president's decision, leading Republican LGBT advocacy groups expressed skepticism over its motivation. GOProud called Obama's announcement "hardly a profile in courage" and the Log Cabin Republicans labeled it "calculated." That suggests that the president's stance has not swayed everyone in the gay community to support him.

Meanwhile, Romney is not alone in seeing backlash from supporters.

The president has also faced problems over his stance. While some African-American pastors took to the pulpit Sunday to support the president, others were critical. One religious leader, Emmett Burns of Baltimore, supported Obama in 2008 but has now pulled his support.

"I love the president, but I cannot support what he has done," Burns said at the church.

Also see:

Ron Paul to end active campaigning

RNC, Team Romney roll out debt attack on Obama

Leading progressive group attacks Romney over women's issues

Obama headlines two high dollar fundraisers in NYC

Filed under: 2012 • Fundraising • Mitt Romney • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    He could have done it last week when fisher outed grenell and the sociorobully didn't have the guts to stand up for what he said years go, "I am going to be more of a friend of the gays than Senator Kennedy was".
    Yes, flip flopper, we know you were for it before you were against it except it was probably just to get elected as you bullied a gay guy in your teens. YOu were old enough to know better and that was NOT a prank that was bullying.

    May 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. cali girl

    Ha Ha Ha, he he he he. So well said Mr White.

    May 14, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. Tracy

    You feel as though it's big news when someone who gives $2500 asks for their money back? Did you also think it was big news when Bill Maher gave Obama a million and then said the things he did? I don't think you did. Double standard? Definitely!

    May 14, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. Kris Craig

    Right next to this link, I saw a link to another CNN article about Evangelical leaders saying that Obama's gay marriage announcement will hurt him and help Romney. Looks like the exact opposite of that is happening. I love irony. =)

    May 14, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    "I feel that I no longer wish to support your presidential campaign and ask that you please return the maximum contribution that I gave to you last year," Bill White wrote in a letter addressed to the former Massachusetts governor and obtained by CNN.
    Go pound sand loser. Romney didn't change his position or mind, you did.

    May 14, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    Rmoney is a sad and pathetic psychopath.

    May 14, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |

    Too late to flip flop on the issue Willard. And you made your stance concrete at your commencement address.

    May 14, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. zinger

    Anyone who believes the Declaration of Independence's "All men are created equal" must abandon Romney now and vote for Obama in November. Romney cares only about profit, not the equality our founders envisioned.

    May 14, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. RapidOne

    A gay Republican is a m0ron. No need for cleverness there–it is what it is.

    May 14, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Why would anyone in their right mind want Romney as The Commander in Chief. Romney can answer the question about what he would do as President if this country was in imminent danger, but would he send your sons and daughters to war and not his. This man has 5 sons all adults, Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig, and none of them nor their father served in our armed forces. Think about it.

    May 14, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. chilly g

    i think marriage should be between a man and a woman, now haven said that i think we need to let peoples choose
    for them self.oh by the way im a black american not a african american i never been to africa.

    May 14, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. American

    Romney unfortunately has chosen extreme positions against even civil unions and pushing a discriminatory amendment with Bachmann, which many independent Americans do not support.

    May 14, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. steven harnack

    Uh oh! Money is involved! Look for Mitt to give a totally ambiguous statement in the next few days!

    May 14, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. Karen

    Bill White is a sore loser. Romney should tell him to go jump off an aircraft carrier.

    May 14, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. American

    Sorry, but you're wrong.

    Romney once claimed he would be to the left of Kennedy on gay issues until Mitt flip-flopped to pander to a bigoted base for the nomination. Sad.

    May 14, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. Wade

    White is an idiot. He said we're "probably" spending money we don't have. Really? Only liberals think we can keep spending money like drunken sailors (sorry, didn't mean to insult sailors), everyone else seems to get that if we do, we'll become like Greece. Wake up people!

    May 14, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    According to Mittens who changed his position on gay adoption, gay couples may not adopt children, but corporations as people could.

    May 14, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. American

    In reality, Romney's con is to increase spending by $2.1 Trillion without any proposal to pay for it.

    May 14, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. seebs

    Quite true that Romney didn't change his mind. But he should have, and that's the problem. Fine for him to have whatever beliefs he wants personally, but if he's going to advocate that the government impose his religious views on other people, he is not fit to be our president.

    May 14, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Hammerer

    When is America's first gay president going to come out?

    May 14, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. cashmeremafia

    One donor most likely won't make much of a difference, but if this becomes a trend, it could spell trouble....

    May 14, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    Don't all Americans know Bain capital is a loot And cheat? Gay-marriage, I do not give darn hoot, I applaud pres. Obama. Yes, I vote for Obama. Smart And wise president after a long time. He straightens wall-street too. We should have passed Dodd-frank bill.

    May 14, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Awaiting Moderation

    I am not a fan of Obama but I admire his ability to stand up for what he believes irrespective of political expediency. That is leadership.

    May 14, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. NotFooledByDistractions

    Pres. Obama has already done more to benefit the lgbt community than any other president in history. His recent announcement is just the final step. Actions speak louder than words, and the Presidents actions speak well of him as a human being.

    May 14, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. Woman In California

    I can't stand Willard but this guy sounds too wishy washy for me. No loss or gain for the president in my opinion. As for the LGBT advocacy groups – go ahead and vote for Willard out of spite and watch me laugh at you while you're forced to "hide" out again like you had to prior to the 80's. Good luck with that.

    May 14, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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