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. Foreseen

    Where is Romney's tax return for the last ten years?
    He doesn't know what it is like to have to work!
    He's live off the government since he daddy was governor!

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

      Wow you are so wrong.
      Obviously you never started your own company from scratch.
      However I can see you are all in with Obama's strategy and demonizing those Americans who took a chance and are sucessful.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. user304765

    I have said it before our government is not a one man show – that would be a dictatorship. Our president inherited the worse mess anyone could believe add to that the fact he has a congress that is extreme on both ends unwilling to come to middle on any topic. then you wonder why our situation is the way that it is. By the way the stock market is at all time highs so many of us are actually doing very well. And I can understand disagreeing with someone about their believes or politics, but the hate that is shown here is unbelievable – whether you are for the president or not it should be because you diagree with his policies – saying you hate him is something totally different and should be kept to one's self.

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

    those who are abusing and riding the Gravy train will not vote for Romney. Those who think the present path of spending and not reducing deficits IS sustainable will not vote for Romney. If Obama is re elected will he continue to blame somebody else for the economy? will he take responsibility? will he put a plan in writting (ie a budget) or just continue to pander to special interests? will pass legislation through the democratic process work both sides of the aisle instead of passing legislation via executive order (immigration) and bribery (Obamacare)? will he remain silent when Isreal gets nuked?

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

      Maybe the question should be will the Republicans continue to block everything he attempts to do for this country? He will hopefully become a lot more intense about pushing through his ideas. As even Romney admitted, a good half of Americans agree with him and after this fiasco he'll have most of the independent vote not to mention the good republicans that now realize they are dismissed by their candidate and party. People do not like to be labeled as lazy and worthless by the man they vote for..kind of runs against the grain.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sixdayde

    I believe what is not understood of what M. Romney spoke about is evident in these posts. The posts are mostly attacks on whatever side does not agree with whatever the poster believes. How can a mind like that be changed. If a person on government aid intends to stay on aid because they feel they have been dealt a bad set of cards, then they will feel as these posters. Why try to change their mind. They are going to attack, not discuss the merits on each side. Mr. Romney merely stated this fact. I have yet to see any post here say something like, "I see what you're saying, however, I'm concerned about this because I feel.........

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott Schwalm

    Romney's remarks may have spurred an immediate negative reaction but it will pay us all dividends in the end. Dependency on the Government is too easy today. Everyone wants to help people but I for one am tired of carrying people that are just lazy and want to work the system. If Mitt's comments made people in the 47% look at themselves and realize that the microscope is being turned on then I say good!!...good for all of us!!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. G. Austin Allan

    Yeah, it was the truth and the truth is you people do not want PRESIDENT Obama in the WHITE house. I would like to remind all the President haters that THIS IS POLITICS now you all want the TRUTH...........FORGET ABOUT IT.

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

      Very well stated. Politics is politics. I don't believe President Obama tells the truth when he speaks, never have and never will.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. barbara

    I interpreted his remarks as meaning Obama will get 47% no matter what Romney says or does.The media is biased as usual and I am considered low income and elderly but have always worked and not expected handouts .I certainly beleive in helping people.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gottheball

    Romney's remarks are patently true. Now look at this headline out today:

    Jack Welch: Obama Win Would Delay US Progress

    On "Squawk Box," former GE Chairman Jack Welch tells Joe Kernen that America¿s best days can still be ahead of it, but an Obama victory in November would delay getting the country "back on track."

    Yes, another four years of massive - and rising - unemployment, a massive defitict, food stamp rolls expanding and the gutting of the U.S. military. Now that's Obama's idea of the U.S. Bankrupt the country and turn it into a socialist state.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Vet

    Outstanding post!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. moe smith

    no... NOTHING he's EVER said was a mistake. The guy is a pompous, elitist, self-righteous waste of human flesh. The only reason he's running for president is ego. plain. simple. period. nothing more. nothing less. The guy is a poor carbon copy of george jr except he doesn't have a war he started to help keep him in office a second term. Romney makes Sarah Palin look like a viable candidate. At least Palin had t!ts to stare at.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrsB61

      That is my perception on many career politicians lumped all in to one, including the current occupant of the White House!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AintSo

    So a rich, shifty MF that won't reveal his taxes after requiring that the very man he picked for VP disclose 10 years of taxes thinks he's in a position to give people hell about taxes?!?!? Puck you MItt. You're the pot calling the kettle black. He may have paid more taxes than me, but at least I paid what I should have.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jomofo

    We need a president for all Americans. Poor, rich and middle class. Obama all the way!!!

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

      Only people having Guts ONLY TALK THE NAKED TRUTH LIKE MITT.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Prosperous Disabled

    It's amazing to me that people believe anything he says any more. It's obvious he will say and do anything to win. No honor, and no morals. As for his comments, he things 47% are addicted to welfare? Am guessing that the other 53% are addicted to insurance. Ask him how much insurance does he have, Has he ever hedged a bet. No. Well then, he must not be the very model of a capitalist as he thinks. Democrat does not equal socialist.. Democrats simply want to get what we pay for, and make sure everyone has the opportunity to make something of themselves. Romney is offensive... he didn't need the words to reiterate that point.

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

    How is what Mitt said was rude, hateful, and controversial?
    Do any of you guys remember when Obama was running in 08 and said some really nasty stuff about conservatives during in one of his private fund raisers? Please, do your research. I'm sure you will find it.
    Everything that Mr. Romney said was true about the 97%. Why should he worry about them? He's mostly interested in the 5-10% for votes, VOTES!. The liberal media, YES YOU CNN, CBS, ABC, CNBC, and the rest of the liberal magazine and entertainers such as DLMS, The View, etc., etc. You have twisted the whole answer he gave of the question asked.
    Why don't you all give news, REAL NEWS like why isn't Obama's foreign policies working for us. Our people are dying out there and picking this 97% as your top priority news is right out dishonest to the American people. Let's talk foreign policies and quit supporting a failed President.

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

      No, I don't remember. Why don't you remind me. Unless, of course, it never happened.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • deb0155

      And we all should remember Obama, Biden, and Hillary at the Job Council Summit when Obama jokingly stated: "Well, I guess those shovel ready jobs weren't as shovel ready as we thought they would be," and our Vice President and Secretary of State laughed along with him. Talk about stupid, rude, and very much out of touch – he just insulted 23 million unemployed Americans! I do not hear the media talking about that!

      Unfortunately, Romney told the truth and the truth hurts!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Major PITA

      The number in question is 47%, not 97%. But I doubt that accuracy has any role in your belief system. Thank you for demonstrating that.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSH

      What twisting of his words ...Fox routinely cuts and edits and is a perpetual propaganda machine are just upset because the truth hurts..he clearly says that he discounts half the population and reinforces what most of us believed that he is an elitist tool with no idea how to govern and no core principles..sorry that facts always seem to have a liberal bias

      September 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. What7Do7You7Think

    Santorum for President !!! He was the better choice. I think I will write him in.

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


      September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSH

      yeah ..what we really need is a closeminded ultra religious leader that will impose his twisted morality on the rest of us ...using the same government he so despises

      September 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
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