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. Mike

    Well, I was undedicided actually but I think Ill vote for Obama. Contrary to what my Republican friends might say, Romney proves "there can be a worse choice than Obama". Romney reminds me of a car salesman. I don't trust him.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Q

      I have switched too. I am one of the 47% victims. I was on the fence, but this seals the deal. Obama all the way.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughAlready

      But you trust Obama? Have you not seen all the lies abou fast & furious or more recently the middle east crisis?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      sounds like a well thought out plan.....Obamas record
      record number of people on food stamps 43 million
      unemployment at 8.3%
      he has added 6 trillion to our debt
      Middleast is loving us because of Obamas reaching out to them....wait...20 countries demonstrating our embassies.
      you didn't build that statement
      did not close gitmo
      decided our country between blacks and whites, rich and poor
      government takeover of healthcare
      dissing our allies around the world
      never ran a business
      never ran a ciry
      never ran a state
      hung out with bill Aryres the domestic terrorist
      hung out with Rev wright....preaches hate
      will nor release docs on fast and furious
      told Putin of Russia he will get him what he wants his second term
      he wants wealth redistribution...

      he an idiot...Obama needs to go.....

      September 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pay attention to what's important

      This is why the country is in such bad shape. Irrational decision making and allowing others to shape your opinion rather than learning the facts for yourself. If you don't feel you are a victim then you don't need Obama in there with all his handouts. Everyone needs help at some point in there life. I certainly did, but I didn't want the handouts to contiue forever. It would have been demoralizing. I like that Mitt Romney believes in people to help themselves out. He's not going to take away benefits, programs etc. He's just going to make it tougher for people to abuse them and get "hooked" on not taking care of themselves. If you believe differently than that then you've been lead astray.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      I was going to vote for Obama because I don;t trust the flip-flopper. But, his speech angered me so much, I donated to Obama Campaign right away. I don;t want the guy who represents the top 10% as the president. he talks down to people. Even Karl Rove has lost confidence in Romney.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shell

    I am going to vote for him just because he made this statement!! It is true and it needs to be addressed!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • sk


      September 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ricardo1968

      Actually it is false, and does not need to be addressed.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • TJ

      You're right, it does need to be addressed. We're dangerously close to a tipping point where most people could care less how much the Government spends and will always vote for someone who gives them more services, because it's not their money.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      False. There are more people in the red states on welfare than in blue states. So, there.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ibsaa

    Mr. is just another extremist ideology of his GOP that blindly categorizes people without any merit. I vote to what I believe not because I received government assistant or not paying taxes. Last year as a house hold we paid over $7000 federal income taxes and many other taxes. My family depends on what we earn from work not government asssistant we will vot what we belive in. This is just one of among many hidden agenda or plat forms the GOP is rung on.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cora White

    It does not take a rocket scientist to know that there is a real hard economic crisis going on, and also if most people were getting a living wage that the republicans always vote against most people would not qualify for government aide. And also if the handouts to the rich like Rommey and off shore bank accounts were here in the USA. where the rich were paying their fair share and the tax system was fair this country would be in better shape. I am a person who have used help from the Government, educated my children in public schools who now we all probably pay more taxes by percentage than many rich people especially the Rommey's'.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      Cora, you do understand that if Obama gets his way and the rich pay more like he wants, it will be enough money to run our government for eight whole really think that is what will turn the economy around? the government has plenty of money the just spend it stupidly. the rich are the ones who creates jobs....not the government cupcake

      September 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pay attention to what's important

      You do realize that Obama is filthy rich as well right? You do realize that he doesn't give near as much to charity right? You do realize that he has had 4 years to make the economic situation that you describe above better, and that it has got significan'ty worse than what he "inherited" right? Seems to me like you should think about giving someone else a crack at fixing your problems than the guy who hasn't done a thing for you in 4 years. Mitt Romney isn't going to do away with all assistance, he's just going to make it harder to abuse the system. Do you have any idea how much charity Mitt Romney has done in his life? You should check it out. He makes Santa Cause look like the grinch. Living Wage? Seriously? Getting paid just for being alive? Serously?

      September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      Cora, let me give you a little lesson that you did not learn in school case you were worried about your hair and nails....if the government MAKES companies raise wages....the company will raise their price to what you could not afford before you still will not be able to afford because they pass the pay increase to the end and I. do you understand cupcake?

      September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      If Romney wins, he will cut government jobs, teachers, fire fighters and police men. He will cut the Pell Grant for students loans. He may cut medicaid for the poor drastically. He will go to war with Iran and expects other's sons and daughters to serve. Oh, he may sell some federal land to the Chinese to make money. Did you the movie "The Campaign?"

      September 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Leo

    47% is the truth. The rest of the reasoning shows more signs of elitism than anything Obama has ever said, PLUS is a great reason why no one should ever have faith in trickle down economics.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    CNN once again cherry picks its comments to support their chosen icon, Obama.

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

    so what i got out of the opening guys statements is he votes for Romney because his church tells him to hate the gays. but when Romney and ryan take away his food stamps and make him pay some income tax he will be crying a river.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Danny Cabuhat

    Mr Romney needs to stand up strait and tell all the people what his idea IS,...that's the difference between Him and Pres. Obama,..that's the TRUTH, my opinion ,...He is RIGHT,..and you can not satisfy the whole populace,.. why tell a SWEET lie if that's what He believes,...more people like me will VOTE for Him because of that,..DO NOT APOLOGIZE,...GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!....

    September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tordibettano

    I would first like to say to Rice who has been forced to use foodstamps out of dire need but still intends to vote for Romney: please reconsider. If he should become president and you should ever need foodstamps again they may not be available. They may not be available because he wants to reduce social spending in order to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest portion of the population. To Mr. Daugherty who thinks Romney is such a paragon of truhfulness: do you think he pays taxes on the money he has put in off-shore accounts and why do you suppose he doesn't want us to see his tax returns? He probably pays less taxes than you do, but he doesn't seem very willing to "speak out frankly" about that paradox. Reconsider, please.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michel

    Mitt just don't know anything about the people and how eazy he got it... Hey... what does he know about working to pays bills... It's clear to me that this canddate would be better off staying in the private sector and create jobs...real jobs BTW not outsourcing them to the cheapest bitter...

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    Most of these comments are way too ideologically based. Mitt is at a fund raiser. Mitt needs money to win. Mitt tells his audience (rich conservatives) what they want to hear. The only problem is that it becomes very difficult to know what Mitt REALLY thinks. If he was scrapping for votes in front of an audience of the 47% I'm sure his message would be completely different.

    Get over it, they are all politicians, they will do anything to get elected.

    And trying to glean any understanding of an analysis from the "record" of what was really done is almost equally fruitless as so many can take any fact and completely twist it around to have it mean whatever they want. I can see that in almost all of these responses (or, when cornered, they lash out and try to make an issue of something else). The respondents have already made up their mind. Why let some facts or some actual recordings of a candidates words ruin their preconceived notions??

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. notogop

    Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart showed an old interview with Mitt's Mom and Dad where Mrs. Romney told how she and her husband received welfare and other government handouts and that is what gave them the opportunity to achieve the things they had. Guess Mitt doesn't like his mooching Mom and Pop either.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pay attention to what's important

      It's not about whether or not Mitt Romney likes or dislikes the people on the government programs. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are "mooching". It's about whether or not he agrees with the way the system itself is set up. He believes it currently encourages over-use and abuse. That belief is supported by the statistics. You may not like it but it is true. This is a very basic distinction between he and Obama. If one beleves that through education, effort, personal responsibility and sacrafice you can achieve your dream without the government then you support Romney. If you believe that the american dream is something that the government owes you whether you put in the sacrafice and the work required or not so that everything is "fair" then you likely support Obama. Stop making it about Mitt Romney not liking people and Obama loving everyone. Those are irrelevant and rediculious assertations.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      The problem is ta while it may be statistically correct, the numbers of actual people who are abusing the system ISN'T 47%, and he made the implication that it was. SO, all of the troops he wants to send over to smite the ME are a part of that 47%, and he just shot himself in the foot by making it appear that they are moochers because they pay no federal income take. THAT's what I'm listening to, and THAT's what he said.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bellaterra66

    If people could get jobs - and be paid a decent wage - that 47% would drop a lot, I bet. /// Our government needs to stop fighting needless, useless wars and invest the money, that it's spending on wars, in its citizens - us!

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

      The govt invest money into the people???? You must be the dumbest SOB on the planet if you think that will EVER happen....

      September 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • cleareye1

      The Republicans would never allow such a communistic/socialistic/suicidal nightmare to happen!

      September 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RPE

      You mean like mandated retraining if you lose your job? That makes sense and would be good money spent. But, ongoing handouts to unproductive folks who have no desire to work again? We have that now and how is that working under the no job president?

      September 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      I don't think 47% of the people don;t work. I am an Obama supporter and I have worked for 30+ years, never received unemployment or disability although I have paid into it. I hope to work till I am 66. I am not living on anyone's handouts. I went to get my ME while working and I have been working since then. Romney categorizes people and it makes me think he wants to be president for only the top 10%. A president is a president for all the 100%. Even when I retire, I won;t be living on handou but from social security I paid into and that is true for lots of the retirees.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Our government invest millions every year to retrain and encourage people to work. There is really so such thing as "no opportunity" to work in this country it's just that some choose not to work because they didn't make an effort to educate themselves and they don't want to work at McD's. I was recently unemployed and took a job I really didn't want so I would have health insurance and money to support myself. I took free training the state of Texas offered and I'm changing to work in the health care industry. I would rather have more money but I chose the opportunity offered to me to make a better future for myself. I'm 61 years old and I have cancer if I can do it there is not excuse for anyone not working....

      September 20, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • roblearns

      You think the government should take money in taxes from corporations and give it to people, so that corporations will hire more people?

      OMG – it boggles the mind. I agree with the part about wasteful spending on wars, but you just STOP SPENDING. That's it.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mortalc01l

    Just watched a video of Mitt Romney's (I shall now call him Money Boo Boo) MOTHER, stating that Money Boo Boo's FATHER was on welfare for two years!!! Imagine THAT. Money Boo Boo's DAD would have been in the 47% ... Money Boo Boo is done... just finished.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • kendrick1

      Proving Mitt's point that one doesn't have to stay there!

      September 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. svann

    99% of voters wont change their vote based on what Romney says.

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

      But it may motivate more to vote against him or disincline certain others to jut not vote. The election really depends upon who can motivate their voters the best. Also, in an election this close 1% can easily decide the election.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • kendrick1

      Then 99% of the voters will get screwed!

      From a post by binc:

      “You guys pulling in around 80-90 grand a year-as a couple no less- will be quite shocked to
      find that in Obamaland, you are rich and you are included in his wealth redristribution plans.
      Have fun with that suckers-you deserve it for your petty envy.”

      September 19, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary1972

      True but it may motivate them otherwise. I was so insulted by his remark, I went to actblue and contribute to Obama Campaign because I don;t want a guy who looks down 47% or 30 % or whatever %.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alfredo

      No, but it might depress enthusiasm and make the 47%'ers in Mississippi, and Alabama stay home and watch reruns on their 46" Plasma TV's, and drink cold beer from their refrigerators.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg J

      Oh no Mary. I am sure you think your donation is actually going to do anything. Its going to buy his campaign lunch. Unless your some large contributor your just giving your money away. You don't think Obama looks down on people? You are more naive than I think you realize. Obama is nothing but a BSer. How about all those promises he made during his campaign that haven't come true! HE LIED. Romney brings up a blatant fact about how we have 47% of this country getting government assistance of some type when our debt is going up every minute! Would you keep handing our money from your paycheck to people if you had none left? That is what our government is doing. We have NO MONEY, we BORROW from other countries just to hand out free money to people here. So be happy with your delusion that our President doesn't look down on everyone and watch our national debt SKYROCKET! Don't worry, you great grandkids could always borrow from you to go to college!

      September 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
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