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. atljack

    Job fairs attract thousands of people looking for jobs. This idea that 47% of Americans are lazy and don't want to work is complete nonsense.

    Ironic that people like Romney who are born into privilege assume those who work as plumbers or waiters are somehow "lazy".

    This is not just Romney. This is the Republican Party.

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

      Well just to let you know plumbers and waiters make a good paycheck and pay taxes and don't rely on the government.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clevo

      This is a headline story from CNN as a distraction.
      Why doesn't CNN headline the lack of leadership in response to the death and attacks happening in Libya and the Middle East?

      I believe this is CNN's second day campaigning this Romney conversation and attempting to twist it into a negative.
      CNN loses credit as a news source each time they campaign for their obvious choice.

      I only hope the people of America see thru CNN and vote for a real leader. It is what we need. Someone to take that 47% out of depending on the government and giving the a job, with something more important... Purpose.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • RAR

      And where did Romney imply or say the 47% are lazy. He didn't. That shows how free people are with adding to the statement with their own spin on the original statement.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • amazed

      Well put. I'm a little surprised that Romney would say what he did, even behind closed doors. I really though he was more of a moderate, but he's not. He's a dyed-in-the-wool, trickle-down eo-conservative who thinks poor people are poor for good reason. Ronald Reagan would be proud.

      Still a lot of time before the election. White southerners will not vote for Obama, even if Romney takes to the airwaves with commercials that claim the South is 100% retarded and inbred. I think he can win, but it will be close. Wish George Carlin was alive to watch all of this. Excellent entertainment.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      Waiters make 2.13 an hour, and they have to pay taxes on their tips...yeah, a gigantic paycheck.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cmkc

    There are 47% who are with him (Obama) if which I am one (although it's more like over 50% now!). I am not a moocher, a leech, nor a nontaxpaying irresponsible American. Romney is insulting to middle class america once again (although he seems to think that Middle Class means making $200K – so by his standards guess I am poor – good to know.)

    September 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • GBD001

      Obama is insulting to me, and I'm middle class.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughAlready

      I guess you didn't listen to the entire video only the left-wing media. What Romney stated is the middle class consists of those making $200 – 250,000 or LESS!!! THAT IS THE TRUTH. There has to be a range given the cost of living in different areas. By the way, please tell me than how is making $250,000 a year considered a MILLIONAIRE???? That's OBAMA's plan, correct? The millionaire tax is for those who make $250,000 or more a year? Isn't there a huge discrepancy between $250,000 and $1 million?

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

      Guess you are waiting for a wealth redistribution, which Obama supports.

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

      $200to $250,000 income puts you in the top 5%. Not the middle class.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarface86

      CB: Why don't you define the middle class for us.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Linda

    Lets tax Mormon churches those people are there on Sundays just looking a handout from the congregation. Wonder if Romney tells the congregtion don't give any old clothes to that parishioner they're lazy and don't pay taxes. Don't give any pot luck dinners for the beneft of the churches poor, don't give any baby showers that woman has 10 kids already and is living off welfare. Yep if you don't believe people should live off the government then the churches are promoting "charity" while NOT PAYING TAXES and taking tax breaks to give back to the same 47% Romney doesn't care about.

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

      I suppose since you want to tax the mormon church, you will want to tax the catholic church also, or the baptist church, or the AME zion church and any one of a 1000 other churches. Your statements are incoherent babble at best. Take your radicle left wing view and ensure you are coherent when you speak or type. Your last message was full of hate and prejudice.

      Romney stated the truth. The truth hurts a lot of people. America has become the land of the thin skinned winers. He hurt my feelings because he told the truth.

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

    What Romney is saying is 47% of the people do not prosper in a free market system. He believes it is because they are shiftless and lazy. I have never bought this argument and that is why I am not Republican. I am not going to sit back and blame the people for failing the system. I'm going to assume the system is the problem. That is how a leader should think too.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scarface86

      That might be true if we really had a free market.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. us_1776

    Romney just wants to be PRESIDENT OF THE RICH !!

    To H E L L with everyone else.

    .

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • GBD001

      Obama is not my president. He's president of the slackers in this country, and those who are fixated on liberal social issues. Meanwhile, Obama is leading our country towards bankruptcy.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scarface86

      No, he wants people to take responsibility for their lives and stop looking for government to solve their problems. He is saying we have a big problem with people always thinking of themselves a victims instead of looking in the mirror for the answers.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truththathurts

      Well, Obama wants to be Lenin and redistribute the wealth. Looks like we are heading to Soviet States of America under Obama leadership.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. writerscramp

    also more disturbing than whether Romney's comments about those receiving assistance are true or not, were his comments "if hispanic and minoriity voters concentrate to the Democratic Party, that would be DETRIMENTAL to America" I guess in Romney's view it's okay for conservative whites to flock to one party of their choice, but other racial groups should not have the same right to choose their political afilliations

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jake

    I know several people who recieve food stamps. The amount of money they recieve is rediculous. One couple recieves almost $500 a month and brag about it all the time, and trust me, the do NOT need them. I know a family of 3 that recieves over $900 a month on food stamps and eat steak dinners 3 nights a week. Food stamps can be helpful but the amount people are recieving is REDICULOUS!

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

      Yeah? I just got laid off and I can't get food stamps.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • atljack

      So basically the people you know are scam artists and free loaders? Hmmm. In general, people are like the people they know.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah, right.

      Really? I'll bet you know people on uemployment that drive Cadillacs too? People on welfare with 80" flat screens? Virtually every social program has a mechanism to report fraud. Get off your lazy butt and report them, otherwise stop making stuff up and get some new stereotypes.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Memmons

      My daughter has schizophrenia and is unable to work. She receives $85.00 a month in food stamps. And she knows how to spell ridiculous.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SD from CA

      That's fraud, report it. It's claims like yours Jake that are false and undercut conservative speech – reminding me of the old welfare queen lies from the Reagan administration. If you know of these couples – report them, it's fraud.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      @Yeah right, I know! My dad used to say the same thing 40 years ago...except the women were wearing fur coats! It was bs then and it's bs now.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JeffinIL

    It doesn't matter what Romney or Obama say. Those who will vote for them based on the R or D after their name on the ballot aren't going to change their votes. Romney could say that Hitler was right and Obama could come out as a fan of Pol Pot and it wouldn't matter.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. SW

    Romney told the truth and is right. Our country can't sustain such high national debt and keep spending what we don't have. We need to take more people off welfare, not adding more to it. It's wrong for half of the nation to be depending on the other half working people to support them (excluding the disabled and retired people). We should continue to fund support for the disabled and help the retired, but other than those, everyone else should work and provide for themselves. No more free housing, food and doctor for people who choose to not work and depend on others.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • kastner63

      What some people here complain about, is called solidarity in Europe, and it has worked well. A society that shows solidarity – paid for by those who can afford it – is cohesive, and since even the poor have some money to spend is economically much better off than societies where everybody thinks only of him-/herself.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GBD001

    Obama has written me off. So, what's the big deal about Romney's remark. It's clearly the truth.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Debby

    71% on a CNN facebook are you surprised. Romney told the truth and people get reliant on un-employment, food stamps, and welfare which us hard working taxpayers have to dish out in our states. If people are offended then they are embarrassed for themselves. The people that want to get ahead will vote Romney and thats 47% the people that like the way things are will vote Obama and thats 47% the other %ers will think long and hard and see what catagory they want to be in.

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

      Actually, the 47% he speaks of that don't pay income taxes mostly vote republican. Most of the gov assistance goes to 'red' states. Hmm.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Your comment makes no sense, first of all you have to have worked for a period of time in order to receive unemployment benefits and you can not receive it if you have quit a job... Second, unemployment is paid into by people who have jobs which is why you must have been through a lay off to receive it.. 47% of the country is not on welfare so you don't even understand the ridiculous comment made by Mr. Romney.. Bottom line is yes the people who are abusing the system need to be stopped, but the assistance that is given is no where near enough to sit back and "live" on for the honest hard working American.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. btldriver

    For all of you out there who say our politicians need to be in touch with the people I say get real. All of the "I understand it is hard to..." and "I want to put more money in your pocket by..." has only dug this country deeper into debt. I would vote for Obama if I thought for a minute he would reduce the debt by cutting gov't spending ACROSS THE BOARD and increase taxes for all. Romney at least has said he wants to reduce gov't spending by eliminating gov't departments where possible and necessary, reduce personnel by not hiring when someone leaves or retires. What does Obama want to do, develop another stimulus plan to buy foreclosed houses, the only people helped out there are the banks. While I would have preferred Romney to not generalize the 47%, you can't deny there are those who expect the gov't to take care of them and they have no plans of changing, those are the people we should be less focused on in our efforts to get Americans back to work. Now bring it on.

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

      btldriver – how is your memory span - we had 2 wars not paid for – medicare part D not paid for and an economy in rapid decline from 2001 – 2009. These all have added to the current 'DEFICIT". Like it or not, this President inherited a mess and you cannot look past it – because, you are not looking past the last 4 years. So if elected, the 'TRUTHFUL' Mr. Romney will take away from the middle class (mortgage interest; charitable; property tax deductions) and sink a giant hole in the middle class. I don't know about you, but I will not criticize another person's decline – unless you've walked in a man's shoes do not judge. There are people today who are HUNGRY; LOST THEIR HOMES; SICK AND WITHOUT MEDICAL INSURANCE – through the fault of the last GOP administration – should these people be left to STARVE. Nice person you are - WHAT IF THAT WERE YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER OF YOURS? PS – in another moment Mr. Romney will TAKE A SWITCH ON THIS POSITION – that you're saying that he is SO right on TAKING; REMEMBER "Obamney Care" he said he will repeal all of it - he is now going to keep most of it !! HA! HA! HA!– he is CHANGING/ CHANGING/GHANGING POSIITIONS --–Shhhhshhhh!!!!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dowdotica

    i found 72 billion dollars yesterday! how you ask? running program tests on schedule A itemized deductions. by just tweaking the numbers enough to not be auditable in respects to charitble contributions and medical i was able to do a test return that increased refund by $720 by where upon i quantified by say 100 million returns being filed. whats this mean you ask? nothing just that the tax system is busted BIG TIME!!! worst yet? it plays even bigger favor to folks making more $$$ as well as corporations. to many places to bury $$$ and not enough honesty in filers. mit is a twit!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jakester

    I find that people get off their rear when the benefits end. Why work when unemployment is constantly extended, and food stamps and medical care are provided? I worked two jobs for many years until I was able to live on a one salary income. The want ads seem to be full of jobs and subsidized training opportunities are readily available. I know of several people who took the easy route of the government trough versus exerting a real effort of finding a way to make a living wage. Lifestyle changes also need to be made (cell phones, expensive cars, cable tv, bottled water, etc.) before personal responsibility can replace ennui.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim R

    Socialism versus Capitalism. It's one or the other. Which do you want? I'll take the one that works, the one that created the wealth and the highest standard of living in the world... the choice that will stop our socialistic slide in to the abyss.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chicago Jim

      It is not one or the other, almost all countries are a combination of both. The US is not a capitalist country, we have regulations and socialist programs. It's either light socialist (US), heavy socialist (France) or communist (Cuba, China is not pure communist). I'm agree with what you are trying to say, let's not become france or worse greece.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • IAMBeowolf

      It's unfortunate you are so blind. It's actually between Capitalism (Obama) and Plutocracy (Robmey). The more you scream 'socialist' the sillier your side looks.

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

      Also, you are aware the most amount of gov assistance goes to 'red' states and this 47% he referred to mostly vote Republican. So he's wrong a few levels, also you should look up 'Stockholm Syndrome' it applies to you and any non-1% voter that chooses Robmey.

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

      The state of the stock market would suggest that Obama is a complete failure as a Socialist.

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