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. LB

    He is saying the truth. i'm tired of seeing women/ young girls have kids to get government help. If you're not in a situation where you can't support a child DON'T have one!!!!! and if you do get a job and work and pay taxes and support you're own child.!! i'm only 21 but i see plenty of people take advantage and who have more and more kids to keep getting help. I'm tired of lazy people not doing anything to better themselves and using our tax money which we worked for to get it taken off our paychecks !! I understand there are people that still work and need a little extra help but for the lazy people who don't bother to get a job or better themselves you should not be helped! instead of spending so much money on welfare and things like that, they should spend more on Education and programs to help people progress. I am in a situation where i could ask for help if i wanted to but instead i work full time to help my mother out and i am not complaining but people really need to get off their lazyasses and stop having kids. and the government should have some type of limit as to how much help they get and for how long!

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

      How do you feel about a vet who draws a Va pension, went to college on the GI Bill and bought his house under the VA Gurantee Program? Romney included such people in the 47% he was talking about.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karl

      You're awfully young to be so hateful and judgmental.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      I agreed with you, I also tired of those rich like Romney and his rich buddies with so much fortunates, still, squeezing into the welfare systems, outsourcing the jobs,cheating in tax,and advocating more laws to protect their own interests.
      How much do the employees in Staple make? Is it more than enough to support a family? Don't argue that they are lazy, or they are un-skilled worker, there are the jobs need people to service us!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Major PITA

      You work full time to help your mother out? Well that means that you don't need to pay for food, shelter, utilities, car payments, insurance, gas or pretty much anything, because you are probably living in your mothers house while you are 'working full time to help her out"

      September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Ramos

    Romney spoke his May remarks in an evironment where he felt most secure and said exactly what he felt. In my case, I am 74 and both social security and medicare are a very important part of my life. Additionally, I am a service disabled vet who has a VA pension. I also went to college on the GI Bill and bought my house under the the VA Program. I am deeply offended by Romney's remarks. He has left me, and others in my position, no choice but to vote for Obama. BTW, since I will be voting for Obama, it may also be good to vote for the other Democratic candidates on the ticket with him. I am very tired of the stall mate in Congress. Something has to break.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sparks2000

    This is just simply more proof of the republicans prejudice against low income people.And they are supposively the 'christian party?'Doesn't the bible say something about not helping the poor,and if you have the means to do it,and don't,its just like you turned away God himself?I am pretty sure it does.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Go to Hell Mittens

    The GOP/T have declared war on the rest of Americans. They only care for the 1% that they are part of. When will the people fully wake up? Obama is no angel but compared to conservative republicans he's Jesus.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Walrus Mustache

    Also on Mother Jones and yet to bereleased to the media. Romney calls hispanics "taco jockys". Also states its not worth going after the hispanic vote.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. user304765

    Oh come on Nate – if Romney is elected what are you going to call him in 4 years if he doesn't meet your expectations?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MICHAEL WHITE

    David A. Rice is mistaken. Mitt Romney said, and I quote,"There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what". He said that group includes those,"who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them". Sounds to me Mr. Rice is not part of that 47% group. Why should he feel insulted?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Derock

    Nice hit piece... you can find a thousand examples of people who fit the description of what Romney said, to every one of the people displayed in this farsicle. I can find people who still believe the world is flat, doesn't refute the truth does it. And the glaring lack of statistics that support Romney's claim is coincidentally absent in this "news" article. Grow up, deal with the truth, and help us solve some real problems.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Well stated.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Karl

    Republicans feed on hate the way vampires feed on blood. It's amusing to see all of you running around screeching "He's only saying the truth!", just like you'd be doing if he called blacks "shiftless" or jews "greedy". Because it's never that you're a bunch of vicious, anti-Christian bigots, racists, and hypocrites. It's that you're "telling the truth".

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jon

    Friggin' liberals. He was speaking the truth and the truth IS WHAT IT IS. I am TIRED of seeing how much of my paycheck every two weeks goes out in taxes just to see people on welfare getting free cell phones, free rent, free medical care, and free rides at colleges while I work 60 + hours a week, sometimes more, to make ends meet as a worker in the middle class. I am sick to death of going to the social services building in my county as part of my employment and seeing able bodied, grown men, collecting food stamps, in addition to the welfare moms who show up with their entire brood of children I AM APPARENTLY SUPPORTING. It makes me sick. My wife is pregnant and we will pay $286 for the first maternity visit tomorrow, and about $200 a visit after that until our co-pay it met. I have good insurance and pay for it. But these welfare moms get knocked up and get a free ride on medical care while I pay for it with my taxes! They are the reason I have to work so hard and why taxes are so high! I am so sick of seeing my pay stub every two weeks. I don't even look at them any more. I put them straight into the shredder in my office. Again, I am sick of supporting you loser morons who get a free ride at my expense, and my family's expense, and my hard working co-workers expense who are in the same boat I'm in. Get a life!!!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Foreseen

      Romney will take more of your hard earned money to put into his pocket and his friends pocket.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • EnoughAlready

      Well stated Jon and no Romney will not take more of your hard earned money, that will be the success of a second term Obama administration...I guess Foreseen doesn't understand the "redistribution of wealth".

      September 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • homardy

      There are a plethora of articles which break down the composition of the 47% who don't pay fed income tax and most of those people do not fit the profile you have been ranting on about the free-loading moochers. But, since that does not fit with the narrative flogged by the talk radio flame throwers, you ignore the facts and believe the fantasy. Enjoy election night.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Foreseen

    Vote Gary Johnson!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LuisWu

    So I suppose all you dimwits that agree with Romney will now go tell your Granny to stop taking Social Security and go get a job? Or tell the guy with a family to feed that makes less than $26,400 a year, that he should pay taxes because he's a freeloader? Stop wallowing in the Faux News lies and do some research on who some of these people really are.

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

      I am tired of irresponsible liberals who spurt out children in the ghetto year after year and get "taken care of" by the welfare state from the cradle to the grave. It's sickening. It's sickening knowing I work 60+ hours a week to support that lifestyle at the expense me and MY family. They are the reason taxes are so high...they think the world owes them something...and apparently they think I owe them something, too. I have never been on welfare. I have worked relentlessly and tirelessly in my career to make ends meet as a member of the middle class. It would be so much easier to find a way to get fired, collect unemployment, get food stamps, get a free social services issued cell phone, get my wife, daughter, and unborn child on Medicaid, and live on the "good life" on welfare. Except for one thing: I have DIGNITY unlike YOU people. Get a life!!!!!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • libertas78

      yup, I will. We aren't guaranteed equal shots. Rich people made this country what it is. Look around you and see all the things RICH people created – like the computer you are using right now.

      Low income ? Work harder. "Granny" can't afford to buy medical? She should have been more responsible.

      Romneys comments are the kick in the butt this country needs. If anything , they motivated his base. He is going to be the president we need.

      Romney will win in a landslide. It's already a done deal. He is our new President.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick in Wisconsin

      Libertas, thank god your psychological help will be covered under Obamacare.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Christian

    Rich man bashing poorer people and making aggravating racist comments.

    Tea for one, for me, not you...

    Who bothers voting for that?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Prtyofstupid

    A truthful mistake on Romeny's part!

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

      Truthful that there are 47% not paying taxes however, data shows that those people actually vote republican and also the majority of gov assistance goes to red states, 9 out of 10. SO, nice try but Robmey insulted his own base.

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

      As pointed out, it's truthful only in the most simple-minded way.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Walrus Mustache

    Romney also calls hispanics "taco jockys" on the Mother Jones tape. There are two minutes now missing.

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

      Fast and Furious.....

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