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. Guest

    Heard nothing wrong with Romney's words.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve- Illinois

    Romney is right. Being dependent on government handouts used to be something to be ashamed of, now it's same old, same old. I was at a cookout over the weekend and my wife's niece's husband asked me where the county line was. I told him. He said "That's why we have to drive 20 miles to Princeton to the WIC office." WIC is where they give "free" stuff. He wasn't familiar with the county line because he, and his wife, and young daughter, had just moved, two months ago, into a $140,000 house they bought. This is the problem with America today.

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

    It may be truth, but Romney is failing to realize that a big portion of the "47%" are disabled American veterans who CAN'T pay income taxes, because they have been severely wounded fighting for this country, or senior citizens who are too old to work and are on a limited income, or completely handicapped Americans who can't work for a plethora of reasons...and could be potential republican voters...I think he stuck his $500 shoe in his big fat mouth if you ask me...

    September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      Brian, there are a little over 24 million veterans in the U.S.A. and as of July 2012 there are 46.4 million people on food stamps. Just thought you should know that before slamming him

      September 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • rancho

      no one is disrespecting our heroes. It is the people who abuse the system and riding the gravy train.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve in CT

    Hes dumb, but hes also correct.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AnnaMaria44

    Plain, unvarnished truth. Nothing more, nothing less.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. yarrrpirate

    Im sorry but the part of the article where the guy says he tries to pay taxes but the govt wont take them is the biggest pile of crap ive ever read. Ive held every job from part time at fast food joints to car salesman and everything in between and believe me the govt takes their taxes. and NOBODY wants to pay taxes.. another load of crap. I realize that its different in each part of the country but even when jobs are scarce you can find one. it may not be what u want but it will pay the bills. Yes romneys statement was very generalizing and not everyone in the 47% are system feeders but unfortunately a vast number of them are. i live a stones throw from the projects and the crap i see on a daily basis is pathetic.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WakeUpAmerica

    Mitt Romney is a business man who is now in politics by default. Being President of the United States is not an exact science. But it does require a minimal understanding of ALL people needs. Mitt Romney does not possess and does not care to possess this trait. He has always shown it and now he has verbally said it. If any of you poor or middle class Republicans vote for him, you are fools. He has shown you that he does not give a darn about you. But you continue to turn a blind eye to that. Why?! Not because you are Pro-Romney but beause you are Anti-Obama. If you are choosing not to vote for Obama for one reason or another I understand. BUT just stay home on election day and vote for no one. Romney is no President.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.Lo

      Couldn't have said this better myself...

      September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      According to the president Romney didn't build his business,the US government did. How can he be blamed for business practices if he didn't build it?

      September 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sweebach

    If you use the more expansive 14% unemployment figure, it means 33% of all Americans are employed Americans who Mr. Romney intends to ignore.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. G.Lo

    A popular Repub argument about gun control is "guns don't kill people, people kill people". The same "logic" should be applied now. The Welfare System in America doesn't create slugs...these people are already slugs who are taking advantage of the system. Trust me, I pay child support to one of them. I get it, I really do, but if guns can't be blamed for killing, then the welfare system can't be blamed for creating dependency. A person who is going to work the system will always find a way to work the system. Shame on you Twit Romney. And I'm in the 53% category. I have never even taken a student loan...and boy do I pay taxes.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      I think you need a class on causality and argumentative structure, the comparisons you are making do not correlate. Romney was simply stating he cannot get the vote of these people so he needs to concentrate on the swing voters. Why don't you ask Obama why he never set foot in Wis during the Walker recall? He was in MI, he was in Min, no Wis. why? Because he knew he could or win them.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harry

    The problem is he has the rich mentality about anyone who makes less than 100k. There not worth his time. He treats people like he does with companies. There a number on a spread sheet. What kills me is The Republicans tout themselfs as more Christian like than Dems.. Yet Jesus spoke of the first will be last and the last will be first. The rich will find it harder to enter heaven a camel will have a easier time to go through a eye of a needle than a rich person entering heaven. Yet the Dems seem to care about everyone more equally. They care for the poor with programs. They try to help homeless with better programs. They want to give you healthcare to help you live. That seem s more Christian values to me than the Republicans the rich trickle down approach. This is America and if your not rich that's your fault mentality.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • rancho

      Dems keep the handouts going to increase their powerbase and insure their own job and re election.
      I would rather have a chance of finding a job than being forced to go to a soup kitchen and live in a shelter.
      Today those out of work have no hope and little chance of finding a job. That is what Romney wants to change.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GetOverIt

    This was a terrible misstep for Romney. Republicans are going to lose. Stay home on election day, your vote doesn't matter, Obama has it all wrapped up!!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jman

      What he said was true... All you democrats voting for Obama just need government money!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rancho

      I do not think he said anything terrible. People abuse the system and would rather have government hand outs than find a job, those people will vote Obama.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • 47%

      This really makes me angry!! Where do I go to get money to pay for my gas and childcare so I can vote? If I have to stand in line too long, I'll need money for lunch too.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dean

    Clearly both.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. power4things

    Oh, grow up, every industrialized nation seems to have about 50/50 work/don't work, for a large number of reasons, not all of them being "laziness". Anybody can hit a rough patch, and many a folk who had bigger dreams end up in the soup line for one reason or another ... but, this hardly paints Romney as a cynical, 1930's there's-work-if-you-want-it Rockafeller. There are a lot of freeloaders, too.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ajax

      Romney also includes many who work (or have worked) HARD such as the military, people making minimum wage, students, and us on social security. I bet I worked MUCH harder than he ever did for my daily bread.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. IceMan

    He's only "walking the walk" after the video was released. Romney never would have said something like this at the RNC, for example. He got caught trying to have his cake (dismiss the lower class to his rich colleagues) and eat it too (get the poor to vote for him). This isn't guts. This is damage control.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wl

    Truth, nothing wrong with what he said!

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