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. bestauntie39

    Hmmm and this guy is STILL going to vote for someone who insulted him! Wow.
    Romney is only proud of his parent's receiving welfare when he needs it to boost his campaign. His parents can receive it, but no one else should. I don't receive help, but I work 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to stay afloat. I am still considered on the poverty line.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Concerned Citizen

      If I remember correctly, there was nothing Obama and his wife were proud of.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. No Mitt I'm not a Victim

    Dear Mitt,

    I am voting for Obama and I am not a Victim. I am a hard working guy in 40's who never took a single dime in assistance and I do pay taxes, plenty of taxes. I won't vote for you because you are not you now, you are some Frankenstein candidate that ultra right wing minority took over and remade. I do not want to see the air I breathe or see wall street run wild again with all our money losing billions and billions. Sorry but you went with the nuttiest of nuts and now they own you.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • J Walk


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

      I agree completely. Mitt Romney is pretending to be someone he is not. He made a political calculation that if he says certain things and takes certain positions, he can secure the Republican nomination. The problem is that, at his core, he does not believe a lot of the things he says. That's why he comes across as so artificial.

      One great example is his claim that Obama undermined the work requirements for Welfare. This is the kind of thing that as Governor he asked of the Federal government: give the rules some flexibility so states can come up with new ideas, new approaches to make government more efficient. But now, he criticizes it.

      And how about saving $716 Billion in Medicare. Every politician talks about eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse to save taxpayer dollars. Obama does exactly that and they try to use it against him.

      Fake, fake, fake.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sweiman

    all I can say is " If the shoe fits "

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hugh

    Obama's a joke

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • J Walk

      AND a bad one at that.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry

      Then why is everyone laughing at Romney?!?!?!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactBasedDecisionMaker

      What a persuasive comment! You've completely changed my mind about voting for Obama.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dale

    What Romney stated was the truth, but the mainstream media trying to spin it into a racial issue, a lot of upper-level black people work for the mainstream media.

    47% three quarters of them are gaming the system one person taking assistance while other family members work for cash only keeping them qualified. Gaming government assistance this circle needs to be broken.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • fryuujin

      yup, millionaires gaming the system – it needs to stop

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

      CNN wheres the tape on Obama wanting to redistribute income. You know...the one when he was Senator.
      The I am "Robin Hood" tape.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mohey

    It's true .... just CNN want to find anything they can attack him .. I'm not a republican .. but CNN you are pathetic ...

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • vilap

      So is Mittens.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fryuujin

    Mitt has never had any relationship with the vast, and I mean vast majority of Americans. It's not his fault, he was born (or born into) this way. But, I think I am giving him too much cover. Really, he is a major POS and anyone running for president should know better.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Iamrightyouarewrong

    mike i need to talk to u i need to quit right now because my husband sick and we have been trying for a long time now to get him help they dont want to 
    help and we dont have way to pay for the drs he needs so i need to quit for a lil while until we can get his stuff taken care im goin to have go get med
    caid on him they will not give it to me if im working bc i make to much im really srry im haveing to do 
    Actual text I received yesterday from one of my employee. Romney was only speaking the truth.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      You don't find anything wrong that a woman has to quit her job so she can get the help her sick husband needs? Obviously, you are facilitating that by not giving her benefits...shame on YOU!

      September 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      What a dbag you are. The woman's choice is to continue working and get no medical help for her husband or to quit working and get the help. That means that you are not providing insurance to your employees and not paying enough for them to get it privately. Either way she loses and is facing a tough time in her life and all you can say is that Mitty was right–what a freeloader. I just don't know where to begin telling you what a defective human being you are.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Concerned Citizen

    I was just telling someone how I see the price of EVERYTHING going up, constantly, while, at the same time, the money we earn either stays the same or has been declining in order to take on jobs.

    They refuse to drill within this country and refine our own oil, yet we will all be caught with our pants down when gas is suddenly $19.99 per gallon. Then what are we all going to do?

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      There have never been more oil wells in production than now and their output has never been higher. Also, new lands in Alaska have just been opened up for drilling.Yes, the Keystone Pipeline was not green lighted because there are significant questions to be answered concerning its' safety regarding a huge aquifer that supplies water to many midwestern states.If you think those states are having big problems with a drought now , wait until that pipeline poisons that aquifer. ( I hope they conclude it is safe and go ahead with the pipeline. ) Ask the oil companies why there haven't built any new refineries in many years. Could it have anything to do with keeping supply artificially low and prices high?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Roger

    Scott, you are right on with your commentary. If the electorate would just calm down, stop and THINK, do their homework and turn off Fox news, many would come to the conclusion that things are getting better. Of course, many Americans are still suffering but to go back to the tired policy of trickle down, which, contributed greatly to the mess we got into in 2008, is just unimaginable and just what Romney/Ryan are proposing. Bill Clinton said it best when he said at the convention "No President, Democrat or Republican could have fixed this mess that President Obama walked into in 4 years.". President Obama is doing the right thing – he should be allowed to continue. But then I'm just one of the lowly 47% who for years thought I was doing pretty good – not rich by any means but paying my taxes, putting some aside for retirement, and all the things I was brought up being told was the right thing to do. Imagine my surprise when Gov. Romney more or less referred to me as a parasite riding the back of the government. Gosh, what happens now! Obama/Biden 2012!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • thetruth

      your one of those 'don't read FOX all lies guys'...give me one example of a can't....but I'd run out of space posting all the MediaMatters, MoveOn, the rest of the liberal media (CNN, MSNBC, ABC on and on) once again give an example of a lie...truth does hurt doesn't it? They didn't even vet Clintons joke of a DNC speech, he distorted the only 4% medical increase (yeah, if you don't include health premiums-duh) couldn't turn it around in one term- b s Reagan did, on and on)...WHAT A SHAM

      September 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barry

    I mean last presidential election...

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jbird68

    Mitts blood shot eyes at the 10PM save indicated his blood pressure had just had it at that pt!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. thetruth

    THe TRUTH.....that's the thing liberals have trouble with...they continually rant about lies on Fox News......when I ask anyone to present and example of a lie....they NEVER do. Just because you don't like what you read doesn't make it a lie. My liberal friends only read MediaMatter, MoveOn, LA/NT Times and he says he never reads what I'm telling is out in the press....I guess if you like drinking your own bathwater keep reading those filtered, distorted and contrived liberal sources....or you can read the facts....ONCE AGAIN CAN ANYONE POST A FOX lie or just something you don't like...called the truth....pathetic......

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactBasedDecisionMaker

      "...they NEVER do." Well, I'm here to change all that.

      Try this:

      Here's another:

      Now, here's what I believe. First, you probably won't even look at these links because you don't want to see them. On the off chance that you do, you will try really hard to justify what you see and claim that they are not lies because you want to believe these things regardless of the fact that they are not true. You, like a lot of right-wingers are willing to believe things that are not true.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Surfer George


    (I'm sure I'm not the first to say so today0

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    If we actually deported illegals Obama would lose a huge chunk of his voter base.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • atljack

      President Obama received more votes from white voters than Clinton, Gore or Carter. You're not only incorrect, your comment is bigoted.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • neffm

      what a looser please get a life and a job alreafy

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

      You lie...but what else is new?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      Uh, people who are not citizens, or "illegals" as you call them don't have the right to vote. Duh.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • don

      Illegals can't vote (your next incorrect statement)

      September 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FactBasedDecisionMaker

      Interestingly, the Obama administration has been deporting illegals at a rate way above any of his predecessors. And since illegals don't vote anyway, their affect on the outcome of a presidential election is non-existent. Bill, it's clear that you don't have your facts straight and it confirms for me once again that the Republican base is a group of people who are willing to believe things that are not true.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      It's true, illegal immigrants cannot vote. And yet, they do. Because in many states, it is illegal to require identification to vote.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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