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. OnetermBama

    How do I get Obama camp to return the hundreds of dollars I gave them in 2008?

    May 15, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. ss396

    Wall Street has given Obama less than half of what they did in 2008; the campaign wasn't going to use corporate donations, but they have run so short of cash that they have opened super-PACS (which Obama railed against to the Supreme Court in their faces at the 2010 State of the Union); they are pleading for the unions to open up their coffers more. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Dems are p.o.'d at the DNC because they can't get funding support for the GOTV recall effort; the North Carolina Democrat convention is running $36-million short of budget. In short, the Obama campaign and the Democrats are having a severe contributions and cash crunch.

    But some guy withholds $2,500 from Romney, and writes a big "Hey, look at me!" letter to the press, and the press dutifully jumps all over it. This has degenerated from laughable to pathetic.

    May 15, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Saboth

    @Michel "Let me get this straight. Marriage, for thousands of year, in all places, at all times, was a union between a man and a woman." That's true. Also, slavery has been around for thousands of years, and women did not have rights for thousands of years. The problem is we've tied marriage to rights in the USA. Tax breaks, insurance benefits, visitation rights, adoption...all tied to whether you are married or not. No one is asking to have gay people married in a church. They simply want equal rights. You can either break away the legal benefits of marriage (meaning gay couples can get the same tax incentives, visitation, etc.) OR you can legalize gay marriage. Either way, these people need equal rights.

    May 15, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Michael

    I am a moderate Republican that cannot support a candidate like Romney. This Tea Party craziness in 2010 caused our party to become too extreme. Just wait until the the bounce back of 2012. Obama is far from a strong candidate, but will win this election hands down. This whole "Take America Back" business was and continues to be a horrible failure and Obama will be laughing last.

    May 15, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Dave

    Non-Issue. Obama has LOST money because of the decision and Romney has GAINED. That is the bottom line.

    The real issue is the debacle of the economy, jobs (u-6 Numbers STILL over 14%!!!!), debt,too much government, and unnaccountable government spending (Solyndra is one exapmle of MANY)

    The corruption and partisanship of this president has been ASTOUNDING!!
    The failurse in the economy have been worse than CARTER!
    The failure in foriegn policy has bee staggering (just look at the mess in the middle east. America nowhere to be found, radical islam filling the void)

    This president would not, COULD not receive more than 30% of the vote at ANY point in our history except now because of the media so openly pulling for him.

    It truly is sad.

    May 15, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Malory Archer


    Let me get this straight. Marriage, for thousands of year, in all places, at all times, was a union between a man and a woman. At no place or time – ever – has it been otherwise.


    How do you know?

    May 15, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Data Driven

    Gay readers on the Ticker, just remember this: Romney is on record against not just SSM, but even civil unions. In other words, he wants to criminalize your relationships. Straight readers: you sure you want to live in a country where some people's very identity is against the law?

    May 15, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Zooty

    White is clearly politically stupid. Why did he support ANY Republican ever? The party is against equal rights for gays and lesbians, they try to deny voting rights to groups they do not like such as the poor, Blacks, and students. Their economic policies are based in the 19th century and are evidently destructive – unless you missed the fact that we are in a Recession/Depression caused by their policies of blind deregulation. They cannot run an effective foreign policy and waste taxpayers money on ill-conceived wars.

    For any relatively educated person to vote Republican is just plain foolish and a waste of the right to vote. What was White thinking? Or any gay/lesbian person who votes for the GOP nasty and anti-democratic trash.

    May 15, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. coolbreeze

    Just as much people will pull out of Mitt so will as much people pull out of Obama due to his gay statement.
    So really in the end it will be a wash

    May 15, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. k

    Sounds like the guy is a flake if nothing else. Not really sure he has the right to demand his money back other than showing what a complete jerk he is. Who would hire someone that indecisive and then that irresponsible?

    May 15, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. whatsnormal

    His stance on marriage as well as his attack on a fellow prep schooler shows just how inflexable Romney is. If your different from what he belives is the norm, your attacked or treated with indifference. That's not the kind of President I want.

    May 15, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. John

    Mitt Romney doesn't know what he taking about from one second to the next. This guy changes he mind more than he does he under pants. This man Is Clueless In what he doing or what he going to do.

    May 15, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Bruce L

    First, I don't know why the critics of the President's statement are so angry - he is stating his personal opinion, not as the basis for any change in policy, or an attempt to nationalize marriage laws (something Mr. Romney IS supporting). If anything, supporters of marriage equality should be upset, as all the president did was express a personal view, one that he is not translating into legislative or executive action of any kind. It's as meaningful, in those terms, as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which applied only to the territories of the country that the Union did NOT control. As to Mr. White, my fellow New Yorker, I can only say, you catch on slow, but you do catch on . . . Mr. Romney would push anyone outside of his own family, and any group overboard, in order to win the presidency, which is why he will probably win - and that will be unfortunate from my point of view, as neither he nor Mr. Obama is truly qualified for the job. This is a lose/lose election, no matter who wins.

    May 15, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  14. Venus

    Spin, spin, spin, CNN. What the story doesn't tell you is that "max donor" to the nominee is $2500 -unlike the RNC & DNC or the Superpacs, candidates are limited to a max of $2500 from each individual donor. Furthermore, this man's letter is written using the exact words ("right side of history") that the WH has been using on this. The entire thing smells like a set up. But it doesn't matter how much anyone wants to pretend: up until last week, Obama had the exact same position on SSM as Romney. His "evolution" now doesn't actually do anything to help get it legalized - it is still up to the state's - which kind of is the same as Romney's too except for their "personal feelings" about it. IOW, it is lip service to try to drum up money & excite the base.

    May 15, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. Independant Texan

    The stance by both candidates has caused major shifts in party loyalties........................

    May 15, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Christopher

    Let's get something correct here: GOProud is about 15 rich white guys who don't want to pay their taxes and who happen to also be gay. They are not to be taken seriously or given any credibility whatsoever.

    May 15, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. clark

    What HACKS! One donation out of how many thousands and this rates a national story? How many supporters has Obama lost? Do a story on that you liberal pukes.

    May 15, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. joe

    Once the Republicans realize just how much "gay money" is out there, they'll be falling all over themselves in support of gay issues, marriage included. Money talks and Republicans always listen when it does.

    May 15, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. SeeThruIt2

    The real issue is the definition of marriage vs civil union. Allowing gays to join in civil unions provides the rights protections for health and survivor benefits. Calling it marriage could force a court showdown with a pastor who refuses to conduct a marriage ceremony. He would be discriminating and denying thier rights.

    May 15, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. ClarasBeau

    What I am not hearing from either Biden or Obama (and it's something that needs to be said) is that neither one of them is PROMOTING gay marriage – – far from it!... But the stance they ARE taking is that they will not DENY the same rights and priveleges to which two gay people in love aspire. The Obama/Biden stance is merely one of acceptance and inclusion, and NOT that of promoting the idea... OR the lifestyle.
    Got it? Good!

    May 15, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "It is just as fair as Mitt Romney's claims and taking credit for job creation at firms where "Romney was no longer making decisions" at Bain Capital. Where does he come up with that "100,000 jobs created" claim, anyway?"


    Good point man. Almost all of the "thousands of jobs" Deputy Doublethink claims he created were created after he left Bain. But they, this is Deputy's his modus operandi to create these kinds of blatantly conflicting arguments/policy positions and stick to both of them at the same time. Just yesterday he tried to counter Obama's commercial about the disaster Bain caused for these families at GS Steel by taking credit for Dynamic Steel, which did fairly well...all while harping on the Solyndra investment. Turns out, Deputy Doublethink benefitted from exactly the same kind of government funding and grant money and tax deductions given to Dynamic Steel that he rails against when trying to rile the Teatrolls as "government picking the winners." Of course, the same is true of all the federal funding that made it possible for him to "save the Olympics," so it shoudl be no suprise that when it's his "success" made possible by government, he's all for it...but when it's government trying to help anyone else, he suddenly despises it. IOKIYAR. Fact is, when you get down to the real root of it, his is the epitome of the 1%er attitude that has distributed the nation's wealth upwards for decades and the class war being waged on the middle class by those who acn afford to buy the government's decision making.

    May 15, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  22. Fly

    This was a political move on the Barry Obama, Barry Sotoero, administration. No one who gave money to one campaign would do that unless to create news or it be a political sham. So pathetic you the gay donor! You supported someone for the right reasons and because you wanted to butte f ~ changed.. your soul will rot in hell!
    More now will turn against gays with attention like this. OH MY Golly

    May 15, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. JFK

    I remember when Mitt was governor here in MA and he said that gay marriage threatened every heterosexual union in the Commonwealth. Really? Gosh if he and Ann need therapy they should seek it.

    May 15, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. flossywhite82

    I in no shape form or fashion support this clown Romney but his stance onsame sex marriage is correct out of all of the lies he has told. Im voting for Obama anyway but I agree there is no interpretaion needed marriage if for a man and woman only.

    May 15, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. logic N LA

    Dave- You live in a universe separated by facts.
    Our foreing policy is stronger- in military and diplomatic policy- than in the past 30 years. Republicans want it both ways- fight every battle but to stay out of the problems of the rest of the world. Not possible. This administration chooses to use NATO so there are other countries involved in the battles, not just the U.S.
    Jobs- up. Maybe not back to our free-spending, consumer debt levels of the 200o's but up based on a sounder, business practices. Regan added more jobs by putting them to work in the government. Obama has cut the gov. work force by 600.000.
    Our ecomony is the product of tax cuts that should have never been approved and cannot get reversed by Obama. By a war that was fought unfunded becuase for the first time in our country's history Bush went into it without looking for additional taxes to pay for it.
    You want instant solutions? vote out EVERY Republican, put taxes back where they belong, rebuild our infrastructure and start thinking about the individual, not corporate interests.

    May 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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