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. deeperinfo

    How has obama helped the Blacks raise themselves up? What was his inner-City development plan? none...

    like he REALLLY cares about you

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zella

      That's up to the individual states. Isn't that right GOP'ers? Less federal government, and all.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. metekrop

    It is not the first time when Romney shows his hate for the underprivileged. He clearly said some months ago that "he hates the poor", that 'he will fire people from work" etc. I think this man fulfilled everything in his life and now seems to be excited very much on the suffering of people.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • America Needs More Media-Literate People

      Do a little original research and starting thinking for yourself rather than regurgitating your meal of distorted media.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Elisabeth

    seriously, a lot of people who don't pay income tax work hard, and get no government assistance, unless you count tax deductions. frankly i don't. that doesn't make someone a leech living off the government, it makes them hard workers who have crummy or low paying jobs. they still pull their own weight. and many of them are conservative. i hope this torpedoes his campaign – the man is dangerously callous.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. DoseOfReality

    Quit reporting your garbage "poll" numbers. Most of the people that are insulted/agitated by Romney's comments are liberals. Of course, these people are the ones flocking to stupid online polls and making inane comments. Good grief.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • doughnuts

      That's because the Republican base is too stupid to realize that they've been getting taken advantage of for the past 40 years.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Weix

      I am not a liberal. I am a Life Member of the NRA. I have been registered and voted Republican most of my 62 year old adult life. I am insulted/agitated by Romney's comments.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. On StreetWise

    And "Corporations are people, my friend"... Stay thirsty, for power!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joe

    Romney was talking about white trash and hillbillies as well.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Linda

    Oh yeah, I forgot. Every time I hear someone say they pay sales tax, school tax, and property tax I just want to tell them they're making a very strong case for less federal government and bigger state government.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. tepeters

    I agree with David Brooks. This is Romney addressing people who live in a country club alternative world. The issue is not really whether we are building a dependent class or an independent class of people. Both are illusions. The reality is that individuals and society are not mutually exclusive of each other but poles on the same continuum. Individuals form society and society forms individuals simultaneously. Individuals are not fulfilled without society because it is society that gives value to individual wealth and accomplishment and yes through the contributions of others and society as a whole indiviudals are enabled to reach their potential. The real relationship is neither independent or dependent but interdependent. We are all in this together so that we must recognize individual contribution but also recognize the contributiuons of all. A successful society is not a vertical hierarchy of betters but a horizontal spectrum of individual variety that makes for success. Government best represents all the people so it is destructive to endorse an absolute ideology of small or big government rather there should always be enough government to meet any challenge at any given point in time which sometimes requires big government and at other times small government. Wise leaders are the ones who know when to choose between the two.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • RepubDoc

      I bet the Romans felt like that when there society fell too. We are headed down that same path. When men become lovers of men and the Republic trys to be all things to all peope it is destined to fail. History will repeat itself with our country.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SoSad

    I'am a small business owner, I pay taxes, taxes, taxes. If I take medicare and medicaid, then will I be on of the 47% percent? Its a good thing that I don't, I would hate to be in that 47%, you FOOL!

    Romney your very well off, pay no or low taxes, and you just insulted those "VICTIMS' who do not pay federal taxes because they don't make enough. Yeah, Romney your JUST DON'T GET IT!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RepubDoc

    Tired of people complaining about Romney's money and lack of paying taxes. Who avoids legal deductions to pay more than they are required by law? No one "wants" to pay taxes. Romney will win because he speaks the truth. He isn't worried about trying to get the 47% he was referring to to "vote" for him. He will improve all 47% of the peoples lives he is referring to more than Obama has. I'm tired of saying it. If the liberal policies worked, and pulled everyone out of poverty, they would have no voter base left. Then there are those Hollywood elitest who must feel guilty for all the money that they make that they need to look charitable by supporting Obama. Sick! Sick! Sick and tired.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jim Weix

    I am a business owner. I am a registered Republican. I am ashamed of Mitt Romney.
    Thanks to people like Mitt Romney, along with the banking industry and Wall Street, this country is in the worst economic crisis in my 62 year old life.
    Of course 47% of Americans don't pay income tax and rely on government support. That's because many of them are unemployed, underemployed, or own a business that either doesn't make or loses money every year.
    Hey Mitt....it's the economy stupid!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • America Needs More Media-Literate People

      Move to Canada

      September 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. serious?

    the guy already said he meant every word of it. why does CNN insist it may be a mistake???????

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave

      Because Republicans consider it a mistake whenever they are caught on camera telling the truth.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Foreverwar

    He openly admitted he doesn't care about half of the people in this country, he looks down on them. Romney is an arrogant snob, who will never understand our nation enough to have the ability to lead it.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mark

      Kudos to CNN with another Pro-Obama hack job..you guys stink. if its true what is so bad about speaking the truth?

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

      He didn't say that he didn't care about them, he said that he knows he will not be getting they're vote this November. This doesn't mean he doesn't care about them. WATCH THE TAPE.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Hannegan

      So let's summarize – Romney was part of that white bread corporate raider culture that sent all our jobs to China. Now lower middle class people can't find work and are dependent on the government. And he's blaming them for that dependency. Who are the idiots that are actually going to vote for "Mitt the Twit" come the election?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Baptist

      This is exactly how I have felt about Obama since I first heard him in 2006.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • America Needs More Media-Literate People

      That's not what he said, and his statements were taken out of context in a carefully orchestrated effort. The context of the question to which he was responding was about what he would have to do to be elected (process not policy). His answer was to focus on those in the middle rather than worry about the 47% who will vote for Obama. He policy is to help all Americans have a higher quality of life rather than continue our rapid course off a fiscal cliff. Obama's policies will destroy our economy, bankrupt our nation, and end America as we have known it.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CarrotCakeMan

    Willard lied, and his lie is going to cost him as well as many other GOP candidates the election. We ALL know the GOP has sabotaged our economy since their ONLY goal was to "destroy Obama," and they don't care who got hurt in the process. America needs to MOVE FORWARD, which we can only do when we dump the GOP.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • J Walk

      "MOVE" is an action word.
      The economy has not moved.
      The umemployment number has not moved.
      "FORWARD" describes momentum.
      I am not better off this year, than last, than last, than last.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Why doesn't anyone voting GOP realize we can't afford these tax cuts anymore? They were never intended to be permanent! Millionaires are paying the lowest tax rate rate in decades, are the wealthiest they've evern been, and are spawning pitiful job growth. Wake up America, the "redistribution" has already taken place!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian in DC

    Someone tells the reality of what is going on and the people who choose to live in fantasy land are up in arms. If Obama wins then I hope in 2016 another Dem wins because the country/economy will be up the creek at that point and unfixable.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DandyStryker

      By all accounts, Romney didn't pay Federal Income tax during at least a few years over the past decade. At least he has *refused* to let folks see his income tax returns for that time period. It seems Willard is part of the 47% - except he doesn't see himself as being part of the problem. Mitt is such a hypocrite.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Yeah, none of these Bush Tax Cuts had anything to do with our deficit!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      AMEN!! If Obama wins again then the people that have never worked a day in their life will be making more money than those of us who actually work for a living (if they aren't already). Until our country is ran by actual hard-working American's again – we will never get out of debt.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • drkent3

      It astounds me how people can pick specific parts of a statement and claim it is 'true' or 'false' based only on the tiny piece they decide to focus on. Romney specifically said that the 47% who do not pay taxes rely on government assistance and have no desire to take personal responsibility. You just can't make this stuff up (well, you could, but then you would have to be a political strategist). In this 47% are active military, social security recipients, disability recipients – and your assessment of that is 'it is true' because a very small percentage abuse the system? Way to prove that conservatives disparage based upon stereotypes.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • donnysox@netins.net

      Hey Brian you need to take a close look at what makes up 47% Willy is dissing. Most are white men that traditionally vote REPUBLICAN inducing 4,000 millionaires who did not pay a dime in taxes. Put that in your truth pipe and smoke it sweetie
      May a Dem be in charge forever! They fight for 100% of the country!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • J Walk

      I'll be out of here.
      Rather spend my sunsets not listening to democratic hoop la which doesnt amount to a hill of beans.
      They cant talk facts. They can only name call; cry Bush; and live on miracles.
      I still cant figure out if this is BILL CLINTON vs Romney. Seems like Obama needs a record to run on.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • donnysox@netins.net

      Hey Brian by Willard's own reasoning his welfare daddy would be voting for the president.....OOPS

      September 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
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