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. Barbara

    The announcement that 1,200 coal-mining jobs have been eliminated across central Appalachia has sparked renewed cries that Obama administration policies are crippling domestic-energy production and jobs

    September 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rascal Rabble

    i have to say, this is the problem with the world: its failings in reconizing the dignity of the poor and needy, as well as, reconizing the dignity of life...these two issues: life and love are of the upmost importance...further it is inappropiate and a grave evil to make determinations of a person's value based one's possession of material goods it owns or lack thereof, and with even greater offense and arrogance, place a price tag on inalienable attributes of humanity whose actual value are priceless...errors of this sort cheapens humanity and deny what it is due... it is lies such as these employed to justify lack of compassion, to commit atrocities, and to commit crimes of every kind against the human person and human dignity. those who do such things are violators of christian principles and natural law...back in the day such violators were known as monsters for their rejection of the sanct!ty of life and love...i believe the acceptable term is now called "conservative compassion" to have disregard for the poor, to have disregard for the marginalized, and to have disregard the unborn...

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jsmith

    It is a sad fact, but it is the truth. This doesn't mean ALL people on gov't assistance will vote for Obama, but the bottom line is that if you are dependent on the government to provide for your daily needs, you will likely vote for the person most likely to keep the money coming. It doesn't mean you do it because you are lazy or a horrible person, but we need to end this cycle.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Except those that don't think they are on government assistance who still vote for Romney even though he derides them.

      He was referring to half of the country. It's a safe bet that anybody commenting on here agreeing with Romney are actually agreeing with him deriding them personally.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BLKvotingAmerican

    no way what robo-Robney said (or ever says) is TRUTH, but in his little white breed world I guess anything is the REAL world it's just another FAKE arrongant LIE.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RealityCheck

    I do believe too much assistance is offered to low income individuals in this country. Unfortunately the bad apples far out number the good ones in terms of those worthy of such help. These following examples are anecdotal instances that I have come across:
    Case A: 26F who has flunked out of high school because of teenage pregnancy and failed to maintain multiple jobs due to showing up late and not being "responsible." She flaunts the fact that she gets a Link Card and money from the government for child support and hence she chooses no to search for a job any more. She frequently buys marijuana and beer with her funds and is a poor mother at best. ( She is voting for Obama)

    The unfortunate truth is that real social programs aim to correct the problem from the root and not trim the weeds into looking more attractive. For once people, politicians, citizens need to quit thinking about themselves and look at the better of society we all live in. We are decaying as a society due to infighting and paralysis in this system that proclaims to be democratic. My parents worked hard to put me in a position to attend college and graduate school and post graduate work. That example I provided above, the government is taking over the role of her parents, or the role her parents should have played for her, and destroying the fabric of society. When an individual learns that there is no safety net, they get a reality check. I wish I had the power and say to determine where my tax dollars go toward. I am an educated citizen and should have the right to exercise where money should be channeled. Its the responsibility of every citizen in this country.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      Show me the study, and then I may believe you. You just made that all up. Giving it a cute little name like Case A doesn't make it true.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. M

    Romney reminds me of a slightly younger version of Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life".

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DLinLA

      Just waiting for an "it's A Wonderful Life" skit on SNL...

      September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kim S

    Mitt Romney clearly demonstrated that he does not possess the ability to communicate his thoughts in a manner that isn't inflammatory or condescending. Imagine him trying to navigate the perils of foreign negotiations, like a nuclear confrontation, and he manages to insult an entire nation because he has a careless mouth operated by an insensitive brain. Forget who pays how much in taxes, an entire world at war because he can't control his mouth should be our greatest fear.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DJK

    Mitt is right!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. joe

    People get a little extra hard core when they're talking to hard core major donors. I'd love to hear what Obama told his donors.
    He's basically setting out his strategy. He's looking at the 5-10% of undecideds that he has a chance of swinging their vote. It's really the only hope either of them have. If we're talking generalizations, do you think Obama is trying hard to swing the votes of those conservatives "clinging to guns and religion"? I don't think so.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jbird68

    On the night of the 10:15 "save" speech, his eyes were so red, and he was trembling enough, it was if his blood pressure had just absolutely had it! Of course, Obama is the younger, better candidate!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sis

    The people who WANT to be on the "takers" llst, will remain on the takers list, he was correctly stating fact. Those who WANT a job and to WORK for a living, will realize they are not in the 47% Romney mentioned that the Dems are trying to get people so upset about. It's just strategy to get our minds off what is really important. Obama trying to make America socialist and totally government dependent. If you "changed your mind" and are now going to vote for Obama after Romney's comments, then he was right all along now wasn't he. Hurt you wittle feelings, didn't he! GUT UP, and quit drinking the damn koolaid!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. In the 53%

    If you actually listen to the tape; Romney is being very analytical about the demograhics of the election, he summarizes a number of points in a shorthand way, he was only trying to illustrate that he needs independants and really only independents matter in this race. He wasnt saying retirrees as lazy, or victims, he did classify a percentage of the 47% as addicted to government handouts. So much more has been attributed and extrapulated because of bias, then what was actually said. Now that it is out there I want to hear that if the 53% pay more, than the 47% will be required to pay some Federal income tax

    September 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Except he did say that – exactly that. I watched the words come from his mouth. Sorry but you cannot wish away his gaffe.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. nouk

    Bad move for a guy who struggles to identify with those of us commoners. Millions of the 47% are retired and have upheld their part of the Social Security contract. They are not whiny victims. Many are disabled veterans who earned their benefits through their service. Many are working poor. Not everyone who pays no income tax is a parasite, which is Mr. Romney's implication. There are abusers of the system and they should be removed from the trough. At the same time, there are profitable corporations feeding at the same trough.
    Romney's error may have been one ,in part, of a lack of eloquence, but he seems too often to lash out and then have to explain his stupid comments. He's not had a very presidential month.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      Obama is a know that right?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      great please tell us about the others that are not retired and live off the government....I don't care if they are left or right...they need to get off the governments payroll. if Obamas policies are working so well, why the record number of people on food stamps? 43 million..........

      September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      Romney's problem was he grouped all Obama supports into one category (the victims and living on govt handout).
      For his information, I have worked for 30+ years, never received unemployment or disability benefits though I have paid into it. I plan to work till I am 66. Calling people like me or my siblings was so wrong that we felt insulted by his remarks. He seems to care only for his 10%. Even Carl Rove has realized that no point in supporting the loosing streak.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |


    September 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JOSE-USMC-0311


    September 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • no

      HEY!! ALL CAPS, your comment MUST be more important than the others.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      every small business owner I have run into wants Obama gone......

      September 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pay attention to what's important

      Obama has done nothing to bring those jobs back to the US and he has had 4 years to do so. .Don't let him get away with blamig anyone else for that. In fact it's getting worse.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Insourcing

      Millions of peoples were insourced in last 3 years to do American Jobs.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      Duane: May be, they cannot hack it and blaming Obama for it.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      Romney invested in Flextronics and Jabil who sent thousands of high tech manufacturing jobs to India, Vietnam and China. Now, he is blaming the democrats for the actions that he and his cronies did.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      Hi Pay attention to what's important: Democrats and Obama came up with a bill to give tax credits only for insourcers and the "Dp Nothing Congress" voted against it. I know, I know you will still blame Obama. Even if your son get into good school, you will blame the teachers and not you or your son.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
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