November 18th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
9 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. Tabeth

    Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women
    So GOP says young college-aged women in USA are promiscuous
    Thank you and see you again in 2016

    November 19, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  2. Zwei Stein

    "“I'm proud to have campaigned for him across the country, but I absolutely reject what he said."
    How does the governor of La get so much time. He is more into the national political affairs than he is with his own state's affairs. Does he live in DC?

    November 19, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  3. quinLee

    If this guy says it's nuts then it must be nuclear nuts or "nucalur" as W would put it. If fact, I wasn't a fan of W's policies but I don't believe he would have ever made the type of comments Romney made.

    November 19, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  4. Joe The Plumbler

    Nutty Newt is calling the other guy "nuts." And what color is the kettle?

    November 19, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  5. Name

    In a perfect world, Romney loses the election, and Obama gets impeached and incarcerated.

    November 19, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  6. News Reader

    Politicians at their best ... spinning the message whatever way it benefits them .... these Rs are all thinking about their next election.

    November 19, 2012 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    ..................don't these insane idiots know he is neither worth nor can win his own contested state and his own state where he was a governor????????????????? GOP is gone and totally nutty idiots.

    November 19, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  8. MeltdownMitt

    Of course, Newt would know "nuts" when he sees/hears it! LOL

    November 19, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  9. v

    a nut calling another nuts! lol

    November 19, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. jim

    I think Romney's new comment show that his 47% statement wasn't a gaffe but was his honest opinion.

    November 19, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  11. Utah Friday

    I'm a middle age white guy. I make six figures a year. I've never been on unemployment or any kind of public assistance. Obama has not given me any gifts, in fact my taxes are probably going to go up. Even so, I voted for Barack Obama because he seems to genuinely give a damn about our people and our country. On the other side, Mitt Romney is so far out of touch with people like me that I cringe almost every time he opens his mouth. MITT YOU LOST....AND IT WASN'T JUST THE YOUNG PEOPLE, HISPANICS, BLACKS AND WOMEN THAT VOTED FOR OBAMA. PLEASE MITT...GO AWAY!

    November 19, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  12. Mike

    What is the 15% tax rate on "unearned income" that wealthy investors enjoy at the expense of everyone else, if not the biggest "gift" of all, eh Mitt?
    I do find it remarkable that Gingrich has infrequent bouts of sanity like this, such as when he called Republican tax policies "social engineering" early in the Presidential contest.

    November 19, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  13. sara

    Now Gingrich who "preached" the same tactics literally is calling Romney's comment "nuts".....Come on....Romney is only REPEATING what is believed and often said about minorities in "coded words". Romney just decided to set it out in plain talk. Coded words like "food stamp" president is not the same as what Romney said???? The news outlet should stop promoting these washed up, non relevant has beens and turn the page on these idiots who are only playing the same game on the American people...."bait and switch".

    November 19, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  14. sara

    Americans knew the 47% comment WASN'T a gaffe ..... and the "switch" of 'I care about the 100%" was BS. ...and we know that the republicans, because they got their butt kicked in the last election ARE BS ing us again. It's their style....JUST cover up to appear "pleasing" to the American people......

    November 19, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    The craziest part of the comment is that Romney levels accusations of gifts and financial rewards, his own campaign promised exactly: finanical rewards in the form of generous tax cuts, most especially for Romney's wealthy donors.

    November 19, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  16. Hugh Jass

    A lot of buyer's remorse from the right-wingnuts these days. It's as if they actually took a good hard look at Romney and saw what the rest of us have seen all along: he's stupid and mean and no more presidential than a McDonald's manager.

    November 19, 2012 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. mdreader

    You losers has ample opportunity to make these comments well before the election, but failed to do so. Your crocodile tears fool no one. You all spouted this ignorant filth, perhaps in other coded terms, but nonetheless, the actions of the GOP stink to highheaven of bigoty, racism, hiomophobia, and disdain for the poor.

    November 19, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. Name mario


    November 19, 2012 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  19. milret08

    The first step for the GOP to get my vote is to admit the truth so good on Gingrich. The second approach is to remove all emotions from illegal immigration because it makes the GOP look hypocritical when for decades it was good for business and not a peep then when they figure their Ethnocentric Culture is threatened and there is a recession that it's time to attack the immigrant and ignore the people hiring them. All of the vitriol during the primaries, all of the broad sweeping accusations and stereotyping cost them an election. When they point out we need to protect the border I'm with ya but when you start to use veiled racist tones, discriminatory language and prejudicial laws that spin off fringe groups that further perpetuate a xenophobic and negative image of the GOP the resultant facts are you get swept in an election. I'm for family values, smaller government, strong national defense, but I cannot hear those messages above the insults and broadsweeping accusations that the GOP are making against the supposed 47%. I take offense to being grouped by race. I am a 20 year military veteran, hispanic father, homeowner and love my country but I will not vote for a Republican Party that espouses indifference and bias. Can you imagine what is said behind closed doors.

    November 19, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  20. Wake up People!

    It takes a nut to know a nut Newt. You knew all along Willard was not Presidential material, but yet and still you and your buddies tried your best to hoist this fraud onto the American people.

    As for Willards gift comment, it's the same thing you and the rest of then have been saying all along. I said it at the time and I'm saying it again, he meant EXACTLY what he said when he made his 47% comment. It's like a drunk. A drunk mouth speaks a sober mind.

    November 19, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. johhnyboywilliams

    Well, I am so glad he didn't win. What a bizarre world it would be in the White House.

    November 19, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. Pete

    Romney,Gingrich and the rest won't stop making excuses.Gov.Scott in Florida wanting an investigation into voting problems,hell he created this mess with the GOP trying to supress the voters in that state and it backfired..And now the insane West who also is a teaparty nut himself is crying foul when he too was in waist deep in voter supression,fraud and he's wants a recount,can you say jail time for all involved including the governor..This voting problem has got to be stopped when it was made blantantly clear by the GOP that they were scared the minority would come out in force to vote Pres.Obama and they wanted to stop it before it got out of hand but as usual with republicans they're ignorent and let it blow up in their faces,nice ha how karma works!!!

    November 19, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  23. Hugh Jass

    NOW the GOP wants to 'come to its senses' and start sidling up to the poor, winking and nudging. They are sure that the Hispanics didn't understand what the GOP was offering them, so lets go over it again: No more Mexicans stealing our jobs, speak English if you don't want a beating, and get back over that border even if you WERE born here, because we've had enough of your jabber, Now, vote for us and all these privileges can be yours. Hey, come back?

    November 19, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. Hugh Jass

    Remember when they said they despised Obama because he was 'inexperienced?' And then they put up pizza cooks and drunken governors and corn-dog swallowers as an alternative? "And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say you know, I don’t know." – Herman Cain Yeah boy, real experience.

    November 19, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    One disturbing facet of the "gift" comment and the "47%" remarks is that there is an audience out there that buys into those arguments. Not only do they believe the arguments, they put their money where their mouths are.

    But, hey. These and other comments are all consistent with that I've been saying for months, and which Romney clearly demonstrated during his embarassing world tour. Mitt Romney is a salesman, not a statesman....and the statesman won the election.

    November 19, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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