November 18th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
10 years ago

Gingrich: Romney ‘gifts’ comment ‘nuts’

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich had harsh words Sunday for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s suggestion that he lost the election because President Barack Obama offered “gifts” to African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters.

“I just think it’s nuts,” Gingrich said on ABC. “I mean, first of all, it's insulting.”

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“The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win,” said Gingrich, who launched blistering attacks on Romney last spring while seeking the presidential nomination himself.

Revelation of Romney’s comments drew criticism from others within his own party, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – who said a winning strategy does not involve “insulting (voters) and saying their votes were bought” - and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said, “Rhetoric like this keeps digging a hole for the Republican Party.”

Romney was quoted by several news outlets as having made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday, and CNN confirmed he made similar arguments in a separate call earlier in the day.

"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the later call. Portions of audio from the call aired on ABC that evening.

The New York Times quoted Romney as having said, "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift."

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued, according to the Times. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."

Romney has stayed out of the public eye since losing the election nearly two weeks ago, and his longtime spokesman did not return a request from CNN for comment about his remarks.

Jindal spoke out against the comments at the Republican Governors Association meeting earlier in the week, and on Sunday described Romney as “honorable and exceptional” but said the comments do not represent his party.

“I'm proud to have campaigned for him across the country, but I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote,” Jindal said on Fox. “If we want people to like us, we have to like them first. And you don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party.”

The GOP will not succeed by “just having better PR folks,” he said.

CNN exit polls showed Romney won white voters, while Obama carried 93% of African-American voters, 71% of Latino voters, and 73% of Asian voters. Obama outperformed Romney among voters under 39 years of age, while Romney carried a majority of voters over 40.

Graham said Hispanics “voted for (Obama) because he's the lesser or two evils.”

“We're in a big hole. We're not getting out of it by comments like (Romney’s),” Graham said on NBC. “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging.”

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra said on ABC that the comments show the Republican Party did not “read the tea leaves from November 6, and I think they're still harkening to yesteryear. It's a new day in America, and they should be catching up.”

- CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report

Filed under: Latinos • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • President Obama
soundoff (397 Responses)
  1. Mancy Graice

    Oh boy, another four years of imbecilic, crazy, tea party double down on the fear and loathing. At this pace the GOP will be extinct by 2016. Halleleujah!!!!!

    November 19, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. patw

    Until the GOP quits listening to hard left liberals like Romney, Jindal, Gingrich, and Graham they will keep losing. America needs real conservative leadership that will lead us back to the Christian values of our Founding Fathers.

    November 19, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. bghamby

    This is the problem with having a "business person" run for political office. He's looking at the race like he would look at a business – it's all about the margins, and what is the most cost effective strategy. Even now, he's conducting a business post-mortem on the process and where his strategy went wrong. In most businesses, people are a factor, but they're not the only factor in whether the business succeeds or not. In politics, people are the only factor, and he is forgetting that fact in his post mortem and his choice of language to describe his failures and the successes of his opponent. He's also not taking into consideration the cycles of politics and that his words will continue to impact republicans in future election cycles.

    November 19, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Everybody out there who has a job and is making it and doing well has *close* friends and *close* family who are either out of work and it's not their fault (not by any *rational* measure) or who ware out of work and disabled. Some are disabled because we have an aging society and things break on you when you get older. Some are disabled by mental illness because the Great Recession was and is the kind of stress that breaks people's minds for life (which isn't their fault by any *rational* measure).

    The Republican base can't let one of these long-term out of work people go by, or one of these disabled folks go by, without saying something nasty and mean about what those folks coulda shoulda woulda done differently and how it's all their fault and anyway, even if it's not, there's "too many" "useless" people like them who should just go ahead and die and get out of the way of productive people.

    Yeah? Well, Republican base? All those other productive people you *think* are gonna vote with you? You just pissed them off royally, mortally, and permanently by talking trash about their momma.

    And you're like the guy trying to explain to his girlfriend what he *really* meant after you've stuck your foot in your mouth. Every word you say shows you meant *exactly* that and the more you say, the madder she gets.

    November 19, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. ghostriter

    Wilson, you have it all wrong.

    You see, things like increased number of folks utilizing social services tends to increase during times of recession. Remember, we started losing jobs in Oct of 2008. The resulting increase in unemployment no doubt increased the number of those on welfare. Since that started in 2008, it is of little wonder that the increases started after the president's election.

    Now, intelligent folks can debate as to whether the president could have done more, but to attribute the increases solely on the president is simply conservative logic at work. The president is responsible for the unemployment numbers that dropped drastically before he took office, but when unemployment drops, it is due to every one and everything except the president.

    This is part of the reason you guys lost. This illogical way of thinking. You guys use whatever "facts" support your claim and dump any actual facts that dispute it. And it bothers you little that you folks base your flawed ideology on factless talking points provided by individuals that don't seem to have a clue.

    November 19, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Krissy

    What's insulting is that Gingrich doesn't have Romney's back after he lost the election. Can we have some cohesiveness in the Republican Party please? We all know Gingrich has an issue with Romney, so I don't think it's fair to take him so seriously when it comes to assessing Romney's political statements.

    November 19, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Vijay

    Romney Lost the election because of "Romney", not Obama nor Paul Ryan.

    November 19, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. sassysticks53

    “I just think it’s nuts,” Gingrich said on ABC. “I mean, first of all, it's insulting.”

    lol! While I might agree with Gingrich's statement, to say it's insulting is the pot calling the kettle black. Gingrich kept referring to Obama as the "Food Stamp President," so Gingrich really can't talk.

    November 19, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    patw wrote:

    Until the GOP quits listening to hard left liberals like Romney, Jindal, Gingrich, and Graham they will keep losing. America needs real conservative leadership that will lead us back to the Christian values of our Founding Fathers.

    " US Constititution: Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    The Founding Fathers did not have the strong Christian values that you've been misled to believe. If they did, then why would they include an amendment such as the first? Shouldn't the amendment favor Christians, and only Christians? It does not. It doesn't because the Founding Fathers wanted a nation that was free from theocratic biased and allowed freedom for all religions.

    November 19, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. mfhpr

    Mr. Gingrich (Pot) meet Mr. Romney (Kettle).

    November 19, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Dave

    God forbid that Romney should suck it up and accept the failure of the GOP message as the reason behind his getting stomped at the polls. His background reveals that minorities and women are in a much lower position on Earth than him and his cultists and are objects of scorn as much as anything. So why not blame them? Any coward would after that stinging a defeat.

    November 19, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Souljacker

    Patw – "America needs real conservative leadership that will lead us back to the Christian values of our Founding Fathers."

    Do you know why our founding fathers left England? They left because they wanted to found a new country based on religious freedom and equality for all. They did not want to force Christianity on anyone.

    November 19, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Laurie in Spokane

    Gingrich is definitely not a favorite of mine, but for once, he's said something I can totally agree with. As long as "celebrity" GOPers say things like Romney has said about voters, they negate anything worthwhile they may be pushing. Will the GOP ever learn? Doesn't look like it does it.

    November 19, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Joseph Rodgers

    I am a Christian, but this country was not founded on Christian values. In fact part of the reason for coming to America was to escape being forced to believe in a particualr religion. George Washington attended church but even stated that he belived in a higher power that wasn't Christ. He practiced Deism. Infact many of our founding father to include Ben Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln thought that believing in Jesus Christ was the first step in admitting insanity. Of those that signed the declararion of independence only Patrick Henry famous for his give me liberty or give me death phrase, was a Christian. Just an interesting tid bit for those who say we need to return to our Christian roots. Those roots lead to nowhere as America was not forunded on Christian values. For those who state otherwise, you should do some real researching on the subject, and your eyes will be opened.

    November 19, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. lcleejr

    romney still lying. thank goodness the majority of voters were not conned by romney/ryan. romney is a disgrace.

    November 19, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. GOP is for the rich why did you endorse Romney, Newts?

    November 19, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. ferret out the BS

    It's hard to believe there is anyone more conservative and to the right than Romney, Jindal, Gingrich, and Graham, if you are you're probably nearer the Facist side of politics.

    November 19, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Gerbert Sherbert

    @ Joseph Rodgers: "Of those that signed the declararion of independence only Patrick Henry famous for his give me liberty or give me death phrase, was a Christian." This is the most ludicrous thing ever posted online. Charles Carroll of Maryland was a devout Catholic...hardly a "deist". Of the other signers, most were either Congregationalists, Episcopalians (Church of England in the US), or Presbyterians. Only a handful were "deists" and non of them said "believing in Jesus Christ is the first step in admitting insanity". You can even run a google search of that phrase and it turns up nothing. Fat chance of that happening if someone like George Washington, John Adams, or Thomas Jefferson (who created his own version of the Holy Bible) were to have said it. Finally, America was founded on the values of the Pilgrams who settled at Plymouth. They came to America to get away from a tyrannical Monarchy which co-mingled religious belief with loyalty to the Crown. The Pilgrims, bless their soul, were not cool with a church founded primarily so the King could divorce his wife to marry his mistress. But any suggestion that the Pilgrims fled England to free themselves of religion is simply preposterous.

    November 19, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Piperman

    Somebody please offer Romney some cheese to go with his whine.

    November 19, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. AZ Girl

    Come on! Give Romney a break, it was the first thing he could think of that they would believe after blowing,what? Billions of their $?

    November 19, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Bill Thompson

    Newt Gingrich is a self absorbed arrogant man that somehow believes that the American public cares about anything he has to say. He pointed self righteous judgmental finger at Bill Clinton and the Monica mishap while cheating on his wife for ten years. Any man would know to go away quietly and never throw stones at anyone again but not Newt. He craves the attention and He is exactly what is wrong with the Republican party. It's all about Newt and he has to be the center of attention.

    November 19, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. bugbuster

    "Newt Gingrich had harsh words..."

    What else is new? Newt practically invented today's partisan incivility during the Clinton years. Here he had a perfectly good Republican in the White House, and he should have been appreciative and pleasant about that, but no-o-o. So now we get a new re-branded Newt, the sage Mr. Nice Guy? I don't think so.

    November 19, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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