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. HCX

    Romney is the new Palin.

    November 19, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Wilson wrote:

    "....Romney's plan was to close loopholes so more taxes would be paid...."
    Not fully accurate. Romney's plan was a 20% tax cut for everyone, eliminating capital gains taxes, etc. Cuts. His plan to pay for was to close loopholes so more taxes would be paid, but unfortunately he NEVER once mentioned what loopholes he would get rid of.

    Romney never mentioned what he woulod cut because he knew that it would hurt the middle class, otherwise he would have came out laid out his plan. It's pretty obvious he wasn't cutting loopholes for people like himself, which means he was cutting loopholes popular with the middle class.

    November 19, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. Reuben

    @ Steve, all your facts are wrong, check historical gas prices and unemployment. People just post stuff to mis-lead others sound just like a politician.

    November 19, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |

    Both cut from the same cloth- what a nerve to try an separate him self this late hour in the game. Romney is going down the tubes and he will have plenty of company. Betcha!

    November 19, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. jc

    What a hypocrite this man Newt....he was and is one of the worst insulting members of the GOP and now he is just showing he is probably the biggest hypocrite. For the GOP to now change their story and try to smooth talk people is so callous, when we've been hearing them say and do things not only insulting but just you think we're going to forget? People know better than that. I think it'll be a very long time before the GOP takes the white house again...very long...

    November 19, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. ianmcgruder

    Romney thought we should all pull ourselves with our boot straps and his friends from their Gucci straps.....but Guccis have no straps. The poor man had no actual plans, just rhetoric to get your vote. He lost. Get over it. THAT is the American way.

    November 19, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. Fladabosco

    I can't think of anything more nuts than listening to Newt Gingrich. If you don't know much about him read up. Is there a bigger slimeball in US politics? I don't think so – this is the man who left his wife for his secretary – then left her for another secretary. Kicked out of the Speakership for an illegal book deal. Just a slime. He blamed his affairs on 'loving America too much' and was the first speaker to face ethics charges in history. Just a slime.

    November 19, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. mimi

    No, absolutely noRepublican can honestly distance her/himself from Romney. They all supported him. They all must have known that his proposed tax breaks did not work at all. The entire party misled the public and the voters by not coming out and say that the proposed tax breaks could not possibly work.

    November 19, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. rs

    Mr. Romney NEVER told the truth while he was camapigning- and I think voters figured that out. In private he was an unapologetic plutocrat- out there only for the supremely rich. Figure it out. He would have ruined the average American.

    November 19, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Deme Joseph

    Newt and Bobby both knew that Romney was this type of man. They are the same – so why act like you are upset now. They are trying to save their future in the political world.

    November 19, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Guest

    GOP will take office if there is a country remaining in 2012. It is going downhill since Obama took office.

    November 19, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. oleskier

    I can see why republicans lost. Arrogance, for one. Insulting our intelligence is another reason. Romney, go back to retirement, as you were doing prior to this election. Button up your mouth otherwise we see more reason you lost.

    November 19, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Deme Joseph

    CNN said Romney won the white vote but they want say how much? Why because they are covering for Romney!!! Obama got some of the white votes also, how else could he win the election? You can fool some of the people........

    November 19, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Ben Goodman

    More out-of-touch-Romney-speak, or a calculated ploy to allow other Republican politicians to try to distance themselves from him. (There is no distance.)

    November 19, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Lizard

    It's hard to tell how much of the criticism of Romney from the right is a genuine belief he's wrong, and how much is a "Shut up, you fool, we can't say what we REALLY think in public!" I'd like to believe it's more the former than the latter, but I'm too old and cynical. (I greatly doubt the Democrats are any more sincere, BTW, they're just better at keeping their mouths shut in public.)

    November 19, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Data Driven

    That's all fine and dandy, Newt, but during the primaries you employed "job creator" rhetoric in your stump speeches, the same as Romney. In fact, the only substantive policy difference you had with him was a somewhat softer line on immigration. If all this "gift" talk was polling better, you'd be silent.

    November 19, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  17. Sniffit

    The angry part of their infantile tantrum is over. We're about to witness the weepy part. Poor little guys have tuckered themselves out.

    November 19, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. encie

    all of the gop including the women need to come out of their caves and look around at what american life is really like. not everyone has car elevators and big boats to ride around in. americans are a great intelligent people. we want to send our kids to good schools, have enough to feed our families, play a little, work at a job that pays enough to do all those things and lead a fullfilling life.

    November 19, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Gerg

    So, the Pubs are finally beginning to realize you just can't say the "right" things, you have to also be genuine about it as well. Good start, and I am sure there will be much soul-searching among the Pubs for a long time. They also ened to dump the whole religious-conservative idealogoy as well. My short and unscientific survey foudn that those REpublican candidates that espoused arcane and 15th century views on abortion and contraception, were voted out of office - Akin, Murdock and Walsh - 3 for 3 on that score - the 1st three I looked up.

    If the GOP gets out of our pants, out of our bedrooms, then maybe the American people will have real choices at the polls, and not have the threat of our choices further eroded (VA, sonograms before an abortion, for example) and restricted. (And, don't sweep that under the rug, overtly an publiclly push the the conservative-religious idealology into the dark corners and leave it there).

    I am looking forward to a day when I have real political choices, but until then, the Dems have my vote (from a registered Republican).

    November 19, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Walker

    I love it, the GOP is turning their backs on the Tea Party. This is the start, Romney is the big scapegoat but wait and see...they'll push out the TP within the next 4 years. Finally!

    November 19, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Patriot

    The current GOP
    An overflow of good converts to bad.
    William Shakespeare

    November 19, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Expat American

    The Tea Party's downfall will be as meteoric as their rise.
    The United States of tomorrow will be less accepting of White Walmart Dollar Store Bigots who hide behind a Bible.

    November 19, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. Wilson


    all of the gop including the women need to come out of their caves and look around at what american life is really like. not everyone has car elevators and big boats to ride around in. americans are a great intelligent people. we want to send our kids to good schools, have enough to feed our families, play a little, work at a job that pays enough to do all those things and lead a fullfilling life.
    But some of us want more, and the opportunity to get what we work for, and keep as much of what we work for as possible.

    November 19, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    There are a ton of reasons why Romney lost the election. But one of the main reasons why he lost the election is simply because Sarah Palin was a whole lot more qualified than Paul Ryan!

    November 19, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. sifto

    it may be nuts–but it is true–they all know it–Newt is a sore loser....

    November 19, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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