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. Chris in Atlanta

    I don't understand how so many people are accusing Romney of "being out of touch". Why is he out of touch? The man obviously gets the fact that so many people are out of work and the economy is in the tank. He appears to have a plan which is alot more than I can say for Obama. It also amazes me that the people that have been out of work for months, even years would even consider voting for Obama unless some, not all would rather be taken care of by the government and yes there are many people in this country hoping for just that scenario if they re-elect Obama

    Romney may not be the most charasmatic or elequent in his speeches but he can do the job that Obama has failed to do during his term and turn the economy around and get this country back on the right track.

    Like I have told all of my friends who are out of work, don't re-elect Obama, and then complain two years down the road when the economy or the job outlook has not changed.

    Obama has not done the job so why give him a second term? Give someone else the opportunity to help this country move forward.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Issues with Chinamen

      "but he can do the job"

      That is YOUR belief, not a fact.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • rlj

      "The man obviously gets the fact that so many people are out of work"
      47% are not out of work – they just don't make enough and Romney likes it that way.
      "Obama has not done the job so why give him a second term? Give someone else the opportunity"
      Like the people and policies that got us the mess that Obama is turning around?
      And "charasmatic or elequent"?
      What can I say...

      September 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Sorry what plan does Romney have to fix the economy or to create 12 million jobs in 4 year? I don't remember him stating his plan anywhere except criticizing the current economy

      September 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Maybe because a lot of people will at some point in their lives will need that safety net.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mittens

      I'll bet you $10,000 that Romney views those living off social security as leeches – even if they worked 40 hours per week their entire adult lives. In his world we live in a meritocracy where a hedge fund manager worth $100 million is 1000x more important than a retired iron worker living off social security and a pension. He would begrudge the man his SS check as a government handout and the pension as a big labor drain on assets his company should raid for shareholder gain. He has no shame and if you respect him for being a straight shooter he listen more carefully – he is admitting the rent collectors at the top of the food chain should have an easier time extracting more wealth from the system. All at your expense. He is telling you he is going to squeeze you dry to make the rich richer – how can you be for that?

      September 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • h.t

      Funny I have not herd Mitts plan yet can you tell me what it is?

      September 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvesting

      @Mittens,
      I'll bet you $10,000 that Romney views those living off social security as leeches – even if they worked 40 hours per week their entire adult lives.
      Well lets see the same people who are recieving today's benefits voted for the people that allowed SS to be spent, now my generation is voting and how am I and my children responsible for those choices?

      In his world we live in a meritocracy where a hedge fund manager worth $100 million is 1000x more important than a retired iron worker living off social security and a pension. He would begrudge the man his SS check as a government handout and the pension as a big labor drain on assets his company should raid for shareholder gain.
      So you want to take the money form the hedge fund manager and give it to others? Heres an idea do not invest in the stock market I don't. That hedge fund manager makes no money off me, if you like playing rigged games then enjoy.

      He has no shame and if you respect him for being a straight shooter he listen more carefully – he is admitting the rent collectors at the top of the food chain should have an easier time extracting more wealth from the system. All at your expense. He is telling you he is going to squeeze you dry to make the rich richer – how can you be for that?
      I disagree with your logic, how is letting someone keep the money they made draining you? The fact that I make more money then you is not holding you back form any success your stive for. I heard him say he wants to reduce govenment by 10% and reduce spending which means the federal government would need less money. You seem to think that because I worked for my family business since I was 9, and NOW make more money I should pay for ANYONE that doesn't want to wake up at 5:00 everyday for 30+ years for someone who chose a different path. FYI I do currently pay more then the average person, yet when I wnet to the bank to borrow money for a new manufacturing facility, I did not notice anyone else wanting to secure the loan. I had to put up all of my personal and compaly assets. So you want to take my money when I have good years and give it to others? If my business fails who will be there for me? Any of those people I helped? will my employees take up a collection? Probably not I am on my own, Life looks VERY different when you sign the other side of paychecks.

      September 19, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Francis

      You say he has a plan but I haven't once heard him discuss his plans, besides when something happens, his answer to that is that he will fix it! At least President Obama knows what he's against in this recession from our previous Republican president that messed up alot for us Americans, but at least Bush and Romney are still rich right, and the poor stays poor, just the was they like it! He can't relate to all Americans only the 1% or 10% of his rich buddies, not fair for the low or working class people who really runs these businesses in America! Hey the 47% matters! Obama all the way!

      September 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corin in California

      What exactly is Mitt Romney's plan. I am still waiting maybe the real Mitt Romney will stand up and let someone know in the near future.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      And what is new about Romney's plan? Anyone know what it is? The weasel won't even show us his tax records. How could anyone trust him when he's hiding so much from the public. Unreal that anyone would cast a vote in his direction...just unreal! If you like being referred to as "you people" have at it. Most anyone with a brain will vote for Obama.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • u r serious?

      Your saying he has a plan, you must be the only one he has told because he sure hasn't shared that with the rest of us!

      September 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cleat

    I will vote for him just because he has the ba11s to say stuff like that...
    this country is so wrapped up in PC and tip toeing around "sensitive" issues, NOTHING gets done.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Issues with Chinamen

      It's not anti-PC, it is misleading.

      Thousands of millionaires are included in his 47%.

      Or did you not realize this?

      September 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • some guy

      You will note that he truly spoke his mind behind closed doors at a fundraiser, when he thought his comments would never see the light of day. That's not courage. If anything it exposes his public message as a facade.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris J

      Romney has balls?? He only said this because he was in front of wealthy donors ($50,000 a plate dinner) and had barred all media. Romney would never say those things to the general population. But he knew doubling down would appease his base, there was no way to walk back from a direct recording.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rlj

      You'll vote for him because he's stupid enough to come out and say he doesn't care about 47% of the people – which makes him unsuitable to govern the country?

      September 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      No way! He did nothing to demonstrate "having balls." He was simply doing what he does best....pandering to his audience...a bunch of wealthy donors in this case. Pure and simple; nothing ballsy here. Having balls would be letting his words be knowingly recorded and repeated to the public at large, including those 47%. The guy is a spineless pandering lying frat boy.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rlj

    "the man who has a track record of turning around troubled businesses, committees"
    It should actually be "the man who has a track record of turning around troubled businesses, committees and firing the people, closing the business and takeing the profit"

    September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mittens

      The Romney recipe for "helping" a company. Use the equity of the company to back giant debt. Strip the pension programs, sell off all the physical assets and sell them off. He would save a sinking ship by auctioning the lifeboats.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Beez

    "p" hit the nail right on the head. That is all.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Really?

    Atheist...Turning around troubled companies? If you call Romney and Bain getting their multi-million dollar consulting fees and then bankrupting the company that they just made all of their money off of and selling the assets, eliminating jobs, sending jobs overseas while hardworking American families take it up the rear in the process a good track record you are sorely mistaken. Also, the Salt Lake Olympics were successful because of all the GOVERNMENT money that Romney ASKED for and TOOK and then said he is the one that made it work. He is a hypocrite and would be the worst thing to happen to our country not named George W. This is coming from a former lifelong Republican who is now an Indpendent because the GOP I used to know and love resembles nothing of today's GOP.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Harvesting

      So with companies like Bain the ones you claimed BAIN bankrupted these compaines, if no one bought them what would happen to them? They would go bankrupt and be worth less on the AH then a total purchase. With a record of 80% successful and 20% bankrupt how is that bad?
      Do you invest in anything? Fixing up a car? You see I would try to find a car I could make money on, which typically means it needs work. Sometimes I may buy one that is just broken other times I will hit a home run and buy one that just needs tune up. Then after I sell it for a profit the profit is capitol gains and subject to different %'s based on how long I owed the car (houser whatever asset it would be).

      Do you have dreams of moving up the inacial ladder? If you increase capitol gains how does someone move up when the federal government is taking more of your profit? Yes Romney made lots of money good for him. Because he made the money he did, does not effect my ability to make money. Yet if you blame the rich guys and increase the SAME benefits we use on a smaller scale we all loose.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chris adams

    Romney revealed his complete out of touch real world view-– what a shame! At least we know now before the election!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. John

    Only those who support OBAMA think its a Mistake.. but then again OBAMA thinks the same way.. Gte a clue America its not about how WONT do this or that in the office .. But WHO WILL do something.. and I still waiting for that and Each canidate is telling us what others are not going to do.. and then we let the MEdia control out passion and votes.. listen to yourself and base your vote on that.. not what 1/2 the people think

    September 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • John - a different one

      The sad part is that no matter who wins, nothing will get done because the other party will refuse to do anything. I take that back Democrats will generally compromise for the greater good, but that might change now after the last 4 years of absolute obstruction from the Republican side (turn about is fair play).

      September 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Don F.

    Romney by his own admission pay a tax rate that is significantly lower than mine. This suggests to me using his own reasoning that he is considerably and significantly more dependent on the largess of American Society than I. We as a society need to assist folks like Romney to be less dependant.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cleat

      and he alos paid in millions to the tax system....what did YOU pay...

      September 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blaine

      You may very well pay a larger percentage of your income in taxes than Romney does but let me ask you this, did you pay over 3 million dollars in taxes last year? Romney did. Did you donate over 4 million dollars to charity last year? Romney did. His percentage of taxes means squat. Try using the math, if Obama had made the same amount in income as Romney did his percentage would have been below Romney's and he still would not have donated more than Romney to any charity. The only thing the percentages show is that Romney has good tax accountants who know what they can and can not write off.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zella

      And yet Romney wants to write off the people who don't pay income taxes because they don't make ENOUGH? What kind of logic is THAT?

      September 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      Donated millions to "charity"? Care to elaborate on which charities? If it's the Mormon church...isn't that a requirment; how is that "charity"? Wonder if those tax records Romney is hiding show that he didn't even do that? And doesn't the Mormon church use that money to generate more money?

      September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rich

    TRUTH HURTS....Lies Deceive

    September 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. fearlessdude

    People, why are you upset with Mitt? He is showing you the way a real vulture capitalist thinks. Like the President said the other day: Don't get upset, vote.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. us_1776

    Who created the 47%?

    After the GOP spent 30 years exploiting the middle-class and driving them further and further down toward the poor what else would you expect but that more and more people would end up having to resort to assistance from some government program.

    During this same time the GOP gave more and more and more tax breaks away to attract voters.

    It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that the GOP set in motion and then it complains about the result as being some type of fault of the middle-class that the GOP exploited.

    This GOP logic is the most twisted logic I have ever seen.

    .

    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ryan

      Corrected for inflation, the median income level is what it was in 1995. Sure, executive pay is several times what it was then, but don't be jealous. It was good enough money in 1995, it should be good enough now. Wage earners are competing with Liberia for jobs you know.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    The fact is many americans are looking to the government for most of their needs and blaming others for just about everything. I am NOT talking about welfare and food stamps, I am talking about the lack of personal responsibility in this country. Buying a house you cant afford and blaming the banks for giving you the loan. Or many people I know who go home after work, play video games and then complain they don't have a better job instead of educating themselves. its goes on and on.

    Does the government need to help those in need....yes, but it doesn't have to hold them by the hand for everything as well.

    I agree in principle to what Romney said in that many will vote for Obama because they like the government running their lives.

    The media (Obama minions) are the ones doing their best to turn the 47% of Americans will vote for Obama no matter what into Romney says 47% of Americans are worthless.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Issues with Chinamen

      If the media are "Obama's minions", why do you think they became that way?

      September 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvesting

      I agree with your statement

      September 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mickster

    So Mitt has told the truth. There are a bunch of people in this country who aren't doing anything to provide for themselves, but wait continually on government. That is who Mitt Romney is talking about. The get food stamps, medical and housing assistance, and depend on their government subsidy payments and checks. Great, if the government is making money and has the income to provide for them. Guess what folks, the government has no money to pay for these programs. We are a nation in debt! Worse than it has ever been. We cannot continue to spend money that we don't have, nor can we continue to pay for people who are not willing to work. Notice what I said, "Not willing to work!"

    Mitt Romney has simply said what needs to be said, a whole bunch of people will vote for Obama simply because of government socialist programs that are paid for by taxing everybody who works. I am tired of Obama's distribution of wealth because he is even taking mine as a taxpayer and is paying for programs that take money from my paycheck. Enough already. GET US OUT OF DEBT, NOT FOUR MORE YEARS OF DEBT!!! It's the economy folks.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Issues with Chinamen

      The issue is – he threw myself and my wife under the bus by attempting to include us as freeloaders.

      We own a small business (12 years and going tyvm). Before starting it, we both worked for over 25 years at the same positions.

      Simply because I voted out the GOP last election, Romney assumes (rather poorly) I am among the 47% who do not pay taxes and/or depend on the government to make ends meet.

      This is 100% untrue and I resent it.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Issues with Chinamen

      Have your personal taxes gone up or down?

      ANSWER THE QUESTION.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Mitt didn't say bunch of people! He said 47% of Americans who doesn't pay income taxes are free loaders. You very well know this 47% includes military personnel, seniors and disabled.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvesting

      @Issues

      If you own a small business with employees you are paying many taxes, matching SS for each employee. I do not understand how you are in the 47% after 12 years in business/

      September 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blaine

      issues with Chinaman, That is not what Romney said, that is what the media wants you to think he said. Romney was talking about the lazy ones who sit at home all day and don't even try to find a job or get a better education. They sit and collect food stamps and a check every month while living in Government housing. They will vote for Obama because he will spread the wealth around. That just tells them they don't have to have any ambition because the Government will take care of you.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mittens

      Some of the people that are in this group you identify as lazy. A retiree that worked 50 years paying taxes that whole time and is now on SS. A disabled veteran still in rehabilitation from his injuries. An army reservist that is going to school and working nights to pay incidentals his benefits don't cover. If you boil that 47% down there is some small percentage that are freeloading (including some millionaires). Romney has painted all of them with the same broad dismissive brush.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Francis

      It's funny you only listed foodstamps, housing etc..but no mention of education, Social security, or paying more to the insurance industries who profits are outrageos or let's not forget taking more from the people that actually works, but he's willing to take more from them who makes 20,000 and less than 30,000 a year, these are the family units that will be affected. Hey to add and most have college degrees or college level education! I know there's people who does abuse the system but not how Romney explaining things, oops he doesn't explain he just puts his foot in his mouth mostly!

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

      He wasn't talking about just welfare recipients, that's a state-run program and half the country isn't on it.
      If you take out people paying payroll taxes alone, the number's closer to 19%, but that's not the number he was using.
      People who don't make much money do it through their own laziness and poor judgement.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ze

      Facts are, in the past 2 years all GOP have done at state levels are raise taxes on poor and middle income people and given tax breaks to the rich. Mitt said it himself, the GOP will run the country. This is the group that yelled 'jobs' 2 years ago, and since then have given us over 400 bills on abortion but NOTHING on jobs or the economy. America won't ever grow again when people work full time and are dependant on the government because they can't afford to survive, even working. This is why you DO NOT VOTE GOP.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Elizabeth

    Obama is trying to make America a dependent socialist country and Romney has the guts to admit it! How can we fight for democracy if we vote in socialism? Come on America!!

    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bill

    By no means are all in the 47% supporters of Obama or looking for government support. A good portion, however, are constant receivers of government support, or are simply tax cheats (many small business owners who do not report their income in full). I think these are the ones who anger hard working taxpayers, and led to Romney's comment. Remember, this is one comment of many, many he has stated, and in this world of instant electronic information, we pick apart every word we can find flaw with.

    September 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Issues with Chinamen

      So you are saying only SB Owners cheat on their taxes?

      Wow – you are so dense.

      September 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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