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. Bill from GA

    Two weeks ago newt was totally kissing Romney's butt. Now he is the attack dog.

    Guess the situation is different when there are no jobs to chase in the Romney administration.

    November 18, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  2. Hmmm

    I suppose that tax cuts for the wealthy are not a gift?

    November 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. beevee

    Now al these guys are pouncing on Romney because he is coming across as a sore loser. I never thought Romney was a presidential material with all his lies and flip-flopping on every issue just to please whoever is there at the time. He would never have made a good president. May be OK in business where the CEO needs only to please the few investors at a huge expense of making many unemployed. Good riddance Romeny.

    November 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. Now you figure it out?

    This is coming from Newt? The man who made race the issue at every corner? Ok, he may not have said that blacks didn't work and didn't want to work, but he sure implied it. I think when he mentioned that it would be good for minority kids to work as janitors at their schools so they didn't end up like their parents, not knowing how to work.. was pretty revealing.

    November 18, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. jvance

    Gov Romney doesn't always remember that he is not the CEO in a closed board meeting filled with sycophants, yes-men and other business food-chain remoras. Those characters know not to repeat anything that's said.
    Outside that arena, everyone has a smart-phone with the video-cam running, ready to spread an electronic smackdown to the entire world.

    November 18, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. julia brown

    The GOP is a party for the rich old boys and rimain that way,thank god they lost and lost badly.get over it MITT-and show your grumpy old face.

    November 18, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Floyd from Illinois

    Romney is sure making it easy for Republicans to pretend they never supported him, but where was this knowledge of his appalling cluelessness and arrogance BEFORE he was defeated?

    November 18, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. charles

    I believe in Romney, because he says what he and the republican party believes in. He might be a bad messager, but thats the platform for the repblican party. Bravo Romney!!

    November 18, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. skarphace

    So is this Newt's way of positioning himself for another run in 2016? If so, someone should tell him to save his money.

    November 18, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. Wonderfool

    OK, so blacks voted for Obama because he is (half)black. Hispanics voted for Obama because he gave young Hispanics a chance to live with less anxiety for two more years. What gifts did we Asians get, especially Asians like me who has lived and worked in the US for more than 45 years, paying taxes truthfully each year (no gimmicks, no off-shore accounts, no donations mainly to spread my own religion, or ...). And I am male. I do have Medicare and Social Security but that was gifted to me long before Obama was born. One reason I voted for Obama was because I am not a Christian and the GOP has became a Christian party proposing to impose its fundamentalist views (yes, like Christian Sharia) on people like me. Obama gifted me with Tolerance! There, one more gift.

    November 18, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. bellarue

    I certainly understand Jindal, Graham, et al. wringing their hands at yet another Romney "gaffe". The fact of the matter is that Romney spoke from his heart, and from the heart of the Republican party. Thankfully, America got it right on November 6th. This man and his party do not represent the 98%.

    November 18, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Courtney

    It's amazing some members of the GOP is calling Romeny out on his gift comment ,but haven't said not one word during the campaign about the 47% comment video .Lets not forget ,these are same people who stood by Romeny remarks and his never ending lies during the election so now they 're playing a different tune. I really hope people don't fall for this and give these snake in the grass jerks their votes.Wow they really do think we the people are stupid .

    November 18, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. GreggEsq

    It was painfully obvious from the beginning of the campaign, actually while he was still fighting for the Republican nomination, that Mr. Romney has no idea of what life is truly like for the average American. His utter inability to relate to anyone outside of his rareified strata of society made him unfit to be the leader of this country. I'm very gratified to find that a majority of my fellow citizens felt the same way.

    November 18, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. n

    I'm just all smiles! 🙂

    November 18, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. fernace

    I kinda feel sorry for Romney! Every time he opens his mouth something stupid comes out & now his party want to distance itself! Were they not listening to what he & many other T-partiers were saying during the campaign? People voted for Obama because the whole Repub party is off it's collective rocker! Repeal, cut, block, voucherize Medicare, privatize SS, cut education funding, moralizing on social issues & on & on! We are a free people who want to remain free! We want government to concentrate on the issues at hand, not tell us how we should live our lives! And work w/the President, for crissakes, so we can get out of the hole, not obstruct progress, because he's not white or republican! The T-party has taken the GOP over the edge & they All need to come back to sanity! It's not just Romney's fault they lost!!

    November 18, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. Ken Grosser

    Fools abound in the GOP. Soon they will become the party of the Slave States and nothing else and will have Texas and Oklahoma which too are backward states.

    November 18, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. 66Biker

    In addition to being all the things people voted against him for, we now see that Romney is also a whiner. He should go cry with John Boehner on the House floor.

    November 18, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. batjones

    When Newt Gingrich, whose solution to child poverty is to fire public school custodians and hire their children at a reduce wage, calls your ideas nuts and insulting, then you must really be on the fringes of society.

    November 18, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Mike from Orlando, Florida

    Romney will be an official party outcast in approximately 2 weeks. I guess he could always move to the Cayman Islands and enjoy his retirement living a few blocks away from the bank that holds his millions made off of sending our jobs to China. We won't miss him a bit!

    November 18, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. John F

    If it weren't for the fact that the GOP is in damage control, they'd all agree with the comments from Romney.

    November 18, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    “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.”

    Yes Republicans do keep digging. As will continue to dig as long as they have Rush Limbaugh and Fox News anchors supplying the shovels. It is the people on the street afterall that go from media outlet to media outlet slinging the shovel ready muck via the internet. Many get pennies per comment also, too.

    November 18, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |

    The 2016 election has started already. All of the raving fans, (Politicians who campaigned for him vociferously) now seem shocked by this statement, but alas, no one was around to repudiate the statement about the 47%. All of a sudden the New Faces of the GOP are out and about (Jindal and Rubio) to pander to the Hispanic vote. If Romney would have won, this latest statement by Romney would have been well received and warmly quoted by the same GOP shills...

    November 18, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. jma58

    A Romney administration would have been a disaster for this country and even the GOP knew it. Thankfully the electorate knew it. Romney is so disconnected from real life that he can not begiin to relate to everyday people.

    November 18, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. JeffinIL

    Nah, keep digging. A tunnel to China will cut transportation costs.

    November 18, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. batjones

    When Newt Gingrich, whose solution to child poverty is to fire public school custodians and then hire their children at a reduced wage, calls your ideas nuts and insulting, then you must really be on the fringes of society.

    November 18, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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