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. Jim

    Deport illegals and stop supporting American degenerates. Vote Romney 2012

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

      right on brother!

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

      Baaaa, baaa.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shane

    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 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coop

      ...and now, back to Fox News..

      September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!

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

      Bush drove us right into the ditch
      Obama drove us left into the ditch.
      We are still in a ditch USA
      Can't we just get back on the main road

      September 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RtUp

    Truth. The "FoFreista's" will vote for POTUS BhO and the 53% who earn will vote for Romney. The trick will be to get some of the 47% motivated to be productive.

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

      Sorry, snookums, I am in the 53%, and have been most of my life; I'm voting for Obama. You logic is illogical.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Coop

    Romney is the original Gordon Gecko of Wall Street:

    Buy'em, suck'em dry, sell'em.

    Check it out for yourself.

    Can you imagine Gordon Gecko for President ?!

    No way !

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

    CNN keeps reporting this as SECRETLY RECORDED, what is this 1982? Everybody has a cell phone now days, what BS!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sherry

    I am part of the 47%. I am retired and am not at the age to receive social security or medicare yet. I don't pay income taxes because my interest income from savings and stock dividends are negated by large income tax write offs due to medical insurance premiums and other medical bills. I have worked all of my adult life and saved and invested my money wisely. Hardly the victim or free loader that Mitt would characterize me as. I am deeply offended by his slamming people for not paying taxes when he has gone out of his way to avoid paying taxes himself through his off shore accounts. BTW his father was on welfare when he was a young adult.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cmkc

    The bleating sound of republican sheep is deafening.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SW

    I know people on Section 8 are driving expensive Benz cars and feel really proud of their Section 8 status. No more funding for such people. Sometimes two generations of the family are both on Section 8, basically FREE Housing, they pay no rent, government pays rent for them. Disgusting!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. borderless

    Does anyone remember when Obama was caught telling the Prime Minister of Russia that after this election, he "will have a lot more freedom"? I mean, sure, Romney's comment at a private fund raiser was embarrassing. But let's take that for what it is: a bit of hyperbole aimed at galvanizing right wing supporters. Compare that to Obama's open mic comment. He was establishing intention. He was telling the Prime Minister of Russia that after this election, he doesn't have to worry about being reelected so he will be "free" to act in ways contrary to the wishes of his electorate. That isn't hyperbole. That is an intent to double cross the people who put him in office for the benefit of not just a foreign power, but one that views us on unfriendly terms. Yet CNN downplayed that incident while they saturate their news with this bit of nonsense. Is anyone at all paying attention?

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      I'm very tired of hearing what neo-cons see in their crystal balls.
      If we don't attack Saddam today, tomorrow there will be mushroom clouds!
      If we raise the debt ceiling one more time, tomorrow we'll all be in soup lines!
      If we outlaw assault rifles, tomorrow they'll outlaw your dinner knife!
      I'm tired of all your gloom-and-doom conspiracies.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. biff mcguzzle

    Mitty's possible Cabinet selections :
    Treasury– Bernie Madoff ( Mitt has had a man-crush on him for years! )
    Justice–Roy Bean ( dig him up-we need him )
    State–Sarah Palin ( who knows the world better and is more tactful?)
    Agriculture–Lisa Douglas ( Zsa Zsa's sister from Green Acres )
    Interior– Sen. Akin ( Nobody knows the interior of things like him )
    Transportation–Ralph Kramden ( Gotham Bus Co. driver extraordinaire )
    Homeland Security–Michelle Bachmann ( She will personally look under every rock for Muslims .)
    Education– Mark Foley ( Clearly loves young people. )
    Energy–Rush Limbaugh ( If we could harness half of the gas emanating from this one windbag, our energy problems would be solved. )
    Veteran"s Affairs–Newt Gingrich ( He knows about affairs, at least. )
    Labor–C. Montgomery Burns
    Defense– Donald Duck or Donald Rumsfeld ( The word is that Rumsfeld has the inside track because of hs outstanding work in Iraq and he has experence invading countries. )
    Health and Human Services–Chris Christie ( Who is healthier than this guy a
    nd more of a humanitarian ? Go f yourself! )

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sacmar

      That made me chuckle.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. capnmike

    Well, I don't pay any income taxes. Does this mean that I don't work? NO! I work 6 days a week. Am I taking government handouts? NO. Then WHY don't I pay any income taxes? Simple...I'm self employed and I don't make enough money to have a tax liability. I am what's known as "poor people". The idea that arrogant rich pig Dirt bags like Romney think I am some kind of a moocher really disgusts me. I wouldn't vote for that piece of crap if he paid me.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • noel

      No, you'd rather vote for the jerk who will end our country as we know it. The guy who keeps printing money and makes all we do earn worth less... Makes him and you worthless in my book!!!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sacmar

      Wow, noel. You have some major anger issues. Also, Obama isn't "printing" money. That is does independent from the government. He has no influence. Oh, I forgot. You all don't believe in facts.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 4pease

    Why does Romney choose to belittle people on social security? On veterans benefits? The metally ill? Did these people not earn this? He has no compassion for those who do not make enough money to meet Congress' mandate for the federal income tax level? To write these people off somehow as moochers with no ambition is hateful. Disgusting. Who could vote for this sorry distasteful human being?

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • noel

      Hmmm, not the sharpest knife in the drawer are you? He was talking about those abusing the system JR!

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

      Noel, gnoramus, the people 4pease is talking about are EXACTLY who make up the 47%. You just want to say your little catch phrase. Vote for Mitt if you want, but know the facts beforeposting.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. iamnothim

    I've been a republican business owner. Before this came out Mitt didn't pass my sniff test. As a business owner I do not like Barack.

    So Mitt pays under 20% in taxes and I pay over 30%.

    Since we're grouping here, what group does that put me in, Mitt?... or... More to the point, what group does that put you in, Mitt?

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • noel

      It puts you in the category of someoen who owns a business or has a job. In other words, someone who has a work ethic and has no choiuce but to vote for ANYONE other than our socialist/commie president!!!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    If I had been thinking of voting for Romney, I believe hearing those comments echoing what the most ignorant and bigoted of the far right actually believe - about half the population no less - would have convinced me not to vote for Romney.

    But I already realized that is the part of Romney's base that owns him and who he serves, not the rest of America, and I was already intent on voting against him.

    What comes as a surprise is simply seeing the proof of what Romney stands for finally being out in the public view.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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