September 19th, 2012
12:56 PM ET

Romney's remarks huge mistake or plain truth?

David A. Rice feels like Mitt Romney wrote him off.

The 61-year-old has always been a values-based voter, generally votes Republican and could be a key vote in the swing state of Florida. But he's also among the 47% of Americans that Mitt Romney said don't pay income tax and rely on government support.

"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in a clip from a secretly filmed private donor meeting in May, which was first posted on Monday afternoon. "There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

Romney's '47%' – Washington's tax-break obsession to blame

Rice says he is working part-time and doesn't pay taxes because he can't find a good job. And the fact that Romney wrote him off in those comments is frustrating.

"I am insulted. I support you and you just wrote me off with the 47% who pay no taxes. In that group are those who cry every time they use food stamps; people who would trade them in a minute for a real job. In that group are Christians who shudder at the thought of voting for abortion and gay rights," he wrote in an iReport. "You have strengths that appeal to the demographic you just wrote off ... use it! In the middle of rich supporters you cannot afford to write off a huge group with a careless word."

The 61-year-old said that he has been forced once or twice to take food stamps - and unlike what Romney contends in his comments - he maintains it was not something he was proud of or hopes to ever have to do again.

"It really hurt me," the iReporter told CNN. "It was not something that I wanted to do, I did it because I didn't have a job."

Rice says he didn't think it was right for Romney to lump every low-income person into the same group.

"Not everyone who takes food stamps is a food stamps junkie," Rice told CNN. "There are people who think the government owes them a living and that the government ought to take care of them and be their momma and daddy all their life. That doesn't apply to everyone."

It all left Rice a bit uneasy.

Which leads to the big questions swirling around the Romney campaign: How much damage will Romney's comments do to his chances for winning the election? Were his comments a big enough gaffe, combined with previous missteps, to really dent his campaign? Were his comments just the brutal truth others don't want to hear? Will it sway the votes of Republicans, independents or the undecided?

Rice says he'll still be voting for Romney because of the candidate's social views. But he knows it may not be the same for others.

"I think it was a mistake on his part because he insulted a lot of people who he needs to vote for him," he said.

CNN asked our readers on Facebook what they thought about the remarks and more than 71% said Romney was wrong and should apologize. Twenty-four percent of readers who answered our unscientific poll said he was right, and it was something someone needed to say. Just about 4.5% felt that Romney was right but shouldn't have phrased the remarks the way he did.

Nevin Sanli, from Los Angeles, California, said he is in the 47% and Romney's recent remarks, as well as other gaffes, have sealed his decision to vote for Obama.

"I never took a penny in help or government assistance money or otherwise. I own two businesses, and all I have been doing, along with my business partners, is creating jobs. I am not a victim," Sanli said in response to the CNN poll on Facebook. "I worked hard and built it all from scratch and I pay a lot of taxes. I am not as rich as Romney, but I sure pay a much bigger percentage of my income in taxes than he does. I find his remarks to be un-American, shocking and insulting."

And definitely unbecoming a president, he added.

"Elitism, silver-spoon arrogance and outright divisive statements, with undertones of racism, cannot be attributes of an American president," Sanli wrote.

For his part, Romney has stood behind the comments from the secretly recorded video. They were an honest reflection of his campaign's message, he said.

"This is a message I'm carrying day in and day out and will carry over the coming months," Romney said on Fox News. "This is a decision about the course of America, where we're going to head. We've seen the president's policies play out over the last four years."

Kristopher Daughtrey agreed with those tough words and took them to show that Romney won't shy away from the truth and will stick to his convictions.

"I applaud Romney for his remarks. He's the only one willing to not sugarcoat it. I'm not a huge supporter of either party, but at least Romney has the guts to speak out frankly about it, instead of Obama, Congress, and other politicians trying to justify their actions constantly or running away with their tail between their legs," Daughtrey said. "If you're going to be president then you need to have the backbone to walk the walk and not just talk about it."

Jason Asselin, an iReporter from Iron Mountain, Michigan, is an independent who says that he generally votes for the best candidate, despite their affiliation, though he likes the ideas and stances of the tea party.

While Asselin is normally a critic of Obama, he said Romney's comments really angered him because he doesn't pay taxes, but it isn't because he doesn't want to.

"I try paying taxes each year and every year they say we don't make enough, it isn't that I don't want to pay my taxes - they won't take them," he says. "Our government put rules and regulations in place for the lower class of people. It isn't our fault for falling under that. I don't like being called the 47%, I'd like to be called American."

Asselin said he is frustrated that Romney makes assumptions about how he will vote. And he is not alone.

Jeff Zicker, 21, might have been a candidate for the 47% category. He's college-aged, but left college because he landed a job performing with a national Broadway tour. He worked two jobs all through college, and these days he pays all his taxes, which puts him in the 53% category.

“For (Romney) to say his plan only appeals to those who don’t victimize themselves just further proves how out of touch he is with the rest of the American public,” he said.

Zicker is a moderate Democrat who will be voting for Obama this fall.

“I honestly believe that somebody that would say that a large of a portion of Americans, that this group victimizes themselves and tries to appeal to voters in that way, I don’t think that shows that they would be fit in any way to be president," he said.

But others say that Romney is merely beginning a dialogue that many Americans refuse to have. Steven Evans said that he thinks the discussion is an important one as the country moves forward.

"It is time to start a national dialogue on whether we are creating a major dependency class," he said on Facebook. "I am glad to see him tell the truth. Let's decide whether we are going the way of Greece or the traditional USA."

But some believe that having that conversation with only half of the country is problematic.

“It’s not in touch with what America’s values are and what we should be in a country," Zicker said of Romney's comments. "At the end of the day, we’re all connected. What I do affects you economically and socially. We shouldn’t see it as an one-for-all system.”

soundoff (4,198 Responses)
  1. fairshare

    The problem is not in saying who these people align to or vote for. The problem is dismissing them because they are not likely to vote for him. The problem is painting them all with the same broad stroke as people who are out to take advantage or the government and hence the others. The problem is to call those who have depended on these due to their various llegitmate reasons that congress has provided over years as freeloaders. The fact is 90 % or more of these people don't fall into the true freeloaders. They are hardworking people strugglling to make two ends meet, who are taking the same deductions and exemptions everybody does or because they just don't earn enough. The problem is that it is not just Mr. Romney, but many other conservatives who feel the same way too. The bigger culprits then are the millionares and billionares who exploit every possible loop hole and park their money in tax havens to pay a fraction of what the other "middle class" people pay. And based on what these rich "conservatives" as asking for, they just want to shift more of the burden down. Wake up folks ! Don't let your dreams of American liberty and free enterprise fool you in to continueing to accept their sleight of hands.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. tracy

    So no republicans are in that 47% huh ? i can not believe how stupid this man is . He just alienated a large % of his own electorate . 8 of the10 highest % of non-income tax paying states are red states. Nobody in the room said anything . How stupid. Its common sense that if the number is as high as 47% about hald would be republicans. Does mitt really believe that no one getting gov't assistance or gov't payments are republicans ? that only democrats are moochers as he puts it ??i really believe he thinks that . He is beyod stupid . this would explain alot about his campaign though. If he thinks the dividing line between democrat and republican is check or no check . Has he never watched the red/blue state map on election night ? Thi man is simply not qualified to be president – he is severely stupid.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • larry august

      Your the stupid one Stacey, he never said he was,nt for those 47%, he said they are with Obama, you lie like obama

      September 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drgiuajar

      What angers me is the ridiculous assumption that if you are an Obama supporter, you automatically must not be a hardworking American. That is a foolish notion. I have always worked and am now retired. I need no government help and am completely self-reliant financially. But I am not a greedy fool who doesn't understand that some elderly or unemployed person needs a helping hand sometimes. No wonder the bible says it is hard for rich people to attain heaven. I see it demonstrated in some comments posted here.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DC

    Like ALL politicians, he doesn't have a clue.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. ana

    What abt you governor? I earn less than 70k but pay 33% tax and you earn how much and you pay how much again???? talking abt free loaders when they are not 47% free loaders. I vote for Obama.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. lili

    Most people that will vote for Obama DO BELIEVE the government owes to them to take care of them, they don't want opportunity they want a free ride and Obama is smart to sell this idea in his campaign, however smart voters can see right trough him and we will vote for Romney

    September 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Domino

      No most of us that voted for Obama are NOT lazy and I do not think the government will take care of me. HOWEVER< I have paid into Soc Sec since I was 16 and you better believe that I think I deserve that, bet you do too or have you ever actually worked yourself?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • tracy

      this divide based on lies that Romney has enhanced shows how stupid and ill informed his base is . I made 400k in 2011 and yet i voted for obama . only uneducated people believe that the rich are republican and poor are democrat . only stupid uneducated believe that all those on social security , medicaid or food stamps are democrat. The poorest states in this country are red states. Red ! This stupidity is why the republican party will lose and will continue to lose elections . stupidity and divide has taken over the party. The working poor who work for minimum wage at all these small businesses that Romney loves they will need social security one day obviously . i hate stupid people i really do . its just common sense that in a capitalist society there will be working poor and people sho do not make enough to pay all their bills and save for retirement . common sense.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. vicky

    Truth hurts! Right freeloaders!

    September 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Drake

      You are an idiot!
      I have worked hard all my life and NEVER taken any government hand out. I willvote for Obama again because the GOP always has a moron running. Also, I want the government out of my bedroom and out of my business. You Republicans preach one thing and then try to legislate another.
      You prove over and over that you are a party of hypocrite s.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Please tell a friend or family member who is receiving Social Security retirement benefits and/or Medicare that he or she is a freeloader with a victim mentality, and get back to us with how that went. Yes, Romney painted that person with the same brush as the tiny percentage of the population that has made dependency a cottage industry.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. B.

    Romney has nothing but Contempt for most people in this country and this truth will Hurt big-time when he loses this race.

    He just does not get it at all, the wrong DNA, and the Wrong Stuff for the job.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Russ

    It doesn't matter if it was truth or mistake, it's how it's portrayed in the media and in Democratic ads. If it takes on an air of truth, it is truth. Currently, Romney is slinging whatever he has back at Obama, but they don't make what he said go away. They are just distractions, which people will see through.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. MeToo

    I agree with some parts of what Romney was trying to articulate. There is a distinction, though, between people who get Social Security and Medicare and those who receive assistance from other social programs. People pay taxes into these programs so they should get something back out. But I do think we need to re-evaluate the payouts and what they should cover. Due to longer life spans and vast improvements in health care, the expenses as they exist today can't be sustained over a long period of time. And having working people pay more in taxes to cover the baby boomers isn't the only answer. As to those enrolled in most social programs ... these need to be discontinued. If you need help with food, housing or other basic needs, then you should turn to your family, friends and community instead of the federal government. Charities are also great resources for help. The American public is very generous, and help can (and should) be found from these organizations. We CAN fill that gap without resorting to federal programs. I would also include those businesses receiving subsidies in with those who are too dependent upon gov't programs. The market should determine the value of what a business has to offer and that will set the price accordingly (supply & demand are great equalizers). If you can't make a living out of what the market will bear, then do something else.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zella

      I am a baby boomer, and I resent that I may not be able to retire JUST BECAUSE I"M A BABY BOOMER....I should be sorry I was born because of the needless wars and greed of the elitists who want to run the country? Don't think so!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aubrie

    BOTH choices are SCARY!!!!! We don't have a snowball's chance in Hellllll of fixing this country.... I've never lived in fear in my life..... but with this election looming.... I do now... I greive for my unborn grandchildren.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. cyg

    Big difference been definition of "mistake" and "lie", isn't there Mitt?

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bob

    Romney's remarks were offensive, wrong, and shows that he has no understanding of basic math, much less the nature of the country he seeks to govern. If every person who receives any form of government assistance is going to vote for Obama, and that works out to be 47%, Obama only needs something on the order of 8% of the rest of the population's votes to win. If that was the case, Romney should just give his concession speech now, because the election would be unwinnable for him. But his figuring is pure idiocy from a mathematical point of view, and horribly elitist and offensive from a human point of view.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Robert

    Obama with a lead growing each day....Mitt you DID build that.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. TruthsaveourFreedom

    “The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money,” the French philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville once said. Wake up America!!!!!!!! Before it's to LATE......obribma MUST go!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    HEY MITT ROMNEY: WHAT CATEGORY DO THE MILLIONS OF REPUBLICAN WELFARE RECIPIENTS FALL INTO?

    September 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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