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. middeloftheroad

    Why does it matter who said what? We all know politicans are the best liar in the world. They would promise one things and never delvier, but the pubic cannot hold them accountable. Why? Congress members are elected by the people and they have vowed to work and fight for the people. Yet, we are at the dawn of a fiscal cliff, they decide not to do anything till after the election. If they care so much about the people, why aren't they start working on a resolution to migitage this potenital financial crsis and debt problem? That's because they only care about their political life and career. It just defects the whole point of working for the people. As for Rommey's comments, who cares what he said at a private meeting in the past? Shouldn't we focus on the present and focus on making America a better once again in the near future?

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

      This "fiscal cliff" is a wonderful thing!
      I can't wait until we run right off the edge.
      The Right is all about massive spending cuts, but now that they are on the horizon, they are against them?
      Unbelievable! Well, ok, not unbelievable, since I've become used to the right being vehemently against something when it suits them, and staunchly in support of the same policy a week later if that bests fits their agenda.
      The CBO study that estimates that "going over the fiscal cliff" will damage the economy, does so with the assumption that the changes taking effect January 1st will be left in place the entire year.

      On January 1st, a new day dawns.
      The (remaining) nutcases in the House will suddenly become anxious to work with President Obama.
      And the Grover Norquist pledge will have become meaningless.
      Since ALL the Bush-era tax cuts will have expired, any portion of them reinstated has to be considered a new tax cut.

      Don't try to fool me with the "sky is falling" garbage.

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

    The TRUTH hurts sometimes. Folks are getting tired of paying for the DIMS nanny state! There simply aren't enough doers to pay for the don'ts hunting DIMocRAT checks!!!

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

      Yeah, darn those veterans and old people! Bleeding the government dry for things like food and shelter...

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

      Yes, all those "blue" states, the ones that voted for President Obama, the states that pay more into the federal government than they get back, they need to learn some personal responsibility! They should take their cue from the "Red" states, those that will likely vote for Mitt Romney, those states that take more money from the government than they pay in.

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

    What Hog Wash! Let's not make this out to be more than what it is. Romney may be a good CEO or even governor, but he is a lousy campaigner to the point of being down right inept. He doesn't even believe half of what he is saying, but its scripted by his neocon consultants and so he goes with it.

    As far as too many people being on the dole, well i haven't seen the statistics on that, but let's remember on whose watch the economy tanked into near oblivion. I don't think its well fare that is "crushes everyone [who pays taxes]" – its too much in taxes that is crushing the people you may more a percentage of their income in taxes.

    How about everyone who makes 500,000 or more pay 40% in taxes, regardless of the source of income (income is income, why should it be lower because it was on stocks/bonds/real estate)?

    How about a president actually make decisions and act based on fact, logic and reasoning, versus what his cadre of consultants write up for him, or what the minority of his party believe America should be?

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

      less than 5% of americans are on welfare

      September 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SugarKube

    Romney paid 2.4 million in taxes. You 47% quit your whining about the rich.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gottheball

    Of course they're true! There are a TON of spongers in this country. Sandra Fluke is just one of them. People that vote for Obama want everything for free. There were people in '08 saying they inttended to vote for Obama because he was going to 'pay my mortgage.' Idiots. But they sitll believe that! There are 23 million out of work, nearly 50 million on food stamps. If you're unemployed and want to stay that way, vote for Obama. All he can offer you is a job slinging hash, waiting tables, pumping gas, tending bar or stocking shelves at Wal Mart. That's right, kiddies! He wouldn't know how to create manufacturing jobs if his life depended on it. Can't find a job, college grads? Look to Obama., your very own 1%-er! Oh, you didn't know he's a MILLIONAIRE? Yes, he's great at feigning empathy with you poor slobs, isn't he, while he takes lavish vacations that cost the taxpayers more millions on top of his massive deficit. Yes, Obama believes in redistribution of wealth, is completely unconcerned with the national debt, funds companies that go bankrupt just months later, is overseeing a slide back into recession and, in general, is the worst president since Jimmy Carter.

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

      It is kind of funny to see you spew your very own hatred and ignorance so profusely.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    Hopefully,we'll soon see the end of the neo-cons and teabaggers. Their inability to do anything other than spew hate and distortions has got to be wearing thin on people. Of course what Romney said is a bunch of right-wing BS. All one has to do is read one of the many stories about who make up the 47% to see what a pile of malarkey it is. More than half of the 47% have low-income jobs but still pay payroll taxes (for social security, medicare, and unemployment), as well as state and local taxes and fees. Google "Who Pays", it makes clear that those at the bottom of the income scale still pay a higher percentage of their money to taxes and fees than those at the top. Of those without jobs, who don't pay federal income tax or payroll tax, half are retirees living off of their (earned) social security, the remaining people are those who are dirt poor. Oh yeah, almost forgot, their are 1000's of rich families who also apparently need to work on "personal responsibiliy" as they also pay nothing into the system.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Boomer in Mo

    Come to MO. I can take you to a building (a nursing home) where the 100 residents are not paying income tax. It costs $48,000 a year to live there and that along with the cost of medi-cap insurance and prescriptions results in deductions that are far more than the income of all of these people. They are spending the money from the sale of their home, their farm, their business. Once that is exhausted, they have to go on welfare. WHY DO SOME OF YOU NON-THINKERS THINK THESE DECREPIT OLD FOLKS SHOULD BE PAYING INCOME TAXES? Most of them paid income tax for 50 or more years and now they are going broke or already broke. There are some lazy Americans and I have no sympathy for them, but quit dissing old people, retirees and those stuck in low-paying jobs and don't have enough income to tax. You could be one of them some day.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike Texoma

    How can Republicans and Democrats have a "values" discussion that makes any sense when the Republican side is so absolutely out of touch with the values of the other half of the country? The Republican assumptions are making an ass out of their candidate because they are way off base, and their arrogance is numbing.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. getreel

    18 paragraphs against Romney before the the pro comment guy. CNN still have their nose so far up the left's a** it's pathetic. What's worse it's sloppy attempt to look 'objective.' Can't wait to see CNN in the unemployment line!

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cristiabella

    It's a mistake for someone who wants to be a leader to write off half of those he's trying to lead. And calling it a 'mistake' is being rather generous...I would characterize it as a disgusting display of self-serving arrogance.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Debby

    Obama said a President should be for 100% of the people, its funny the only time that applies to Obama is when he is pandering for votes. It was he didn't believe in gay marriage now election year he does, he hated superpacs and now in election year they are good, etc. etc. Think people before you vote.

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

      I would say the same thing to you debby

      September 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. larryb

    don't forget the religious families (including mormons) who have many children then add a home mortgage and they have enough deductions to pay romney counting them? do you want old people who make 20k to pay taxes?
    he is just ignorant of normal peoples lives and he does not care.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MashaSobaka

    What I find most telling about Romney's misinformed little tirade is that it exposes his complete ignorance of how taxes work. "The 47%" is, in fact, a constantly shifting demographic...someone who didn't pay federal income taxes last year may well be paying them this year, and someone who paid those taxes last year may not be paying them this year. It depends on how much money you're making. I can see how a guy who was born into wealth and has remained wealthy ever since might not be familiar with the concept of an income that fluctuates so much that you actually switch tax brackets, but you'd think a guy who brags about his financial savvyness would have at least asked someone to explain it to him. The "47%" figure also refers to people who have no federal tax *liability*. Some of them did pay federal taxes, and paid plenty, but got the same amount back in a refund. In the meantime, everyone is paying other taxes. Once again, I'm baffled that a man whose taxes are mostly of the "capital gains" rather than "income" variety would understand that there are other types of taxes besides federal income tax. Worse, this rant shows that Romney isn't just out of touch with working Americans...he's out of touch with almost 3/4 of Americans. Many of us – about 72% – believe that the government should indeed provide assistance to people who are out of work or otherwise impoverished by way of Medicaid and food stamps, and the support for national healthcare is growing every day. If he thinks that only 47% of Americans think that assistance should be given to the poor and sick, that only 47% of us believe that we have a responsibility to our fellow citizens and not just to ourselves, that only 47% of us think that everyone deserves the best chance at success, then he is so very, very wrong.

    September 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TheScampiCat

    Bring on the debates.

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