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. E.S. from AK

    I voted for the republican party last presidential election, but this year i will vote for Barrack Obama. After Romney's recent remark it just shows me that if he become president he will only be the president of the rich people of America. They could sugarcoat it all they want, but the fact is we've already seen and heard what Mitt really feels about the poor and elderly people of America.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mk54

    In the long run, it might not be all bad if Romney gets elected. Four years of Romney and we might never have another Republican President.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ellen

      Yes, except that we thought the same thing when George W. Bush was elected.............. or I did, anyway.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitairedog

      I don't think suffering is a good way to learn lessons if a simple memory exercise will suffice. Remember who started this recession mess. Remember who backed deregulation. Remember who outsourced jobs to China and India. Remember who dragged us into Iraq with lies. Remember, then suffering will not be needed. Obama, 2012!

      September 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stephanie

    My family is in the 53%. Except for one year, my husband and I have each paid taxes since we began working full time when we were yound adults. In 1993 we had a daughter who was born with serious health problems, which qualified her for Medicare. We were unable to work and received food stamps during this period. Upon her death nine months later we returned to work and resumed paying taxes. I am grateful that Mitt Romney has showed us his true colors. He will not receive our votes for President, who represents ALL Americans.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Solitairedog

      Ah! Someone with a memory. Thank you Stephanie.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Member of the 53

      As a dad, the story of your loss is heartbreaking. My thoughts go out to you. And you and your husband are the TRUE example of people this country needs to be there to support in a time of need. Unfortunately, for every 1 family like yours with a true challenge, there are many more who don't need the assistance, and furthermore could be part of the group who is there to lend you their shoulders in your time of need. That is what we need to get back to in this country; asking not what this country can do for us, but what we can do for our country... and fellow countrymen and woman in their time of need. I am truly sorry for your loss.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. UNBIAS

    I watch both MSNBC & Fox News every day for the commentary. I turn to CNN for unbias news reporting. But- CNN– your pro-Obama message is coming through loud and clear. As an independant, I want to see/hear the good, bad, and ugly from BOTH political parties. I want to know what is happening internationally. I want to know whether the strike ended in Chicago. WE ALL KNOW WHAT ROMNEY SAID.....

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Solitairedog

      Sometimes just telling the truth is automatically "pro-Obama" because the truth exposes the nasty side of Mitt. It's not CNN's fault that Mitt is an arrogant elitist with no empathy for anyone but himself.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer974

      The problem is, and I am NOT a Romney voter (but I detest Obama), WE DON'T KNOW WHAT ROMNEY SAID. No one does and it is doubtful we ever will know. Forensic experts have examined the released tapes from Moher Jones and pointed to "multiple edits, interpolations, and cuts". The most critical one occus right in the middle on the 47% quote. Worse, CNN full well knows this. They are running a story based on fabricated evidence, pure unadultered fiction, and they know it is fiction. That is so astounding, so outlandish, that it makes me question everything they report.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ha!

    You, "sir" ARE EXACTLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR IDEOLOGY.

    YOU, JUST LIKE ROBME, THINKS THAT 47% OF AMERICANS WILL NEVER VOTE FOR ROBME.

    WRONG!

    IT HAPPENDS TO BE THAT A TON (YES MOST OF THESE 47% ROBME SPIT AT ARE ROBME SUPPORTERS – AKA HIGH SCHOOL "EDUCATED" WHITE FOLKS IN POOR, RURAL STATES IN THE SOUTH).

    AND THAT, "SIR", IS A F=A=C=T!!!!!!!!

    SO MUCH FOR YOUR ENTIRE NONSENSICAL DISSERTATION! HA HA HA HA HA HA

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. the truth hurts ;(

    Everyone needs to pay income tax. Work more than one job if needed, do whatever it takes stop being lazy. No one cares, only the strong survive. I’m tired of the working class paying for the idiots who don’t do anything. That’s their decision let them starve, give everyone a drug test who want any assistance from the government. The people that made this country are turning over in their graves. We the people are forgetting what made this country so great. America isnt just a country it’s an idea you can go out there and make your dream become reality. If you want to live off of us who are fulfilling ours get out!!!!! Go be a worthless nobody somewhere else you moochers.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • bubbaroy

      Just like Mitt's Dad (George Romney)... you have been brainwashed.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Observer974

    I would suggest that CNN has dug themselves into a hole that they wont sson be climbing out of.Idiots. Forerenic experts have examined the tape released by Mother Jones and found "multiple edits, cuts, and interpolations". In other words, you have a tape, one even more blatently designed to mislead and misinform, than the one where we got to see one of the Washington Posts resident dweebs yucking it up with Mrs. Geenspan over at MSNBC. And, Mother Jones "admits" to this! They admit that several minutes of the tape are missing and that a critical edit was done to the oft referred to 47% section, the one this story is based on!. In other words, you have a non-story, an invenvtion, a witch hunt, with CNN looking like partisan inompetent fool, hacks, liars and worse. What I am wonder about, though, with this news being fresh and well known, why is CNN still peddling a story they know to be based on a fabricated tape. Have you no shame?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ellen

      But Romney admitted he said that and has repeated it.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitairedog

      Doesn't all that spinning make you dizzy, Observer974?

      September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer974

      Actually, and this is factual, too, Romney said that he had said something about 47% of Obama voters and didn't recall saying anything about 47% of voters. That, evideintly, was an edit. He also has stated that he clarified even those remarks and has wonder where those clrifications ended up. Apparently, on some cutting room floor. So, what you have it, a work of ficion, where clever edits literally put words in Romney's mouth. Worse, CNN knows this, but they keep treating that corrupted video as if it were somehow justifcation for their continuing this story. hat I am seeing is a lie, compounded by a whole series of other lies. ROmney never said what has been attributed to him in the first place and, compounding that damnable lie, we have people inventing him claing to admitting to the first one! Doesn't anyone else find it curious that a major news organization would do this awful a job a "reporting".

      September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Art

    I *think* only around 30% of the population actually votes, so I'm missing some math here given the 47% number...

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rowdy elephant

    CNN wud rather focus on this for a month than on Obamas record.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Greg F

    I think it's interesting that republicans always blame the liberal media for their mans failure, yet they keep coming back for more so called lies from said media. What does this mean?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jill

    So according to Mitt:
    Every senior taking SS that doesn't get enough to pay federal income tax is a government sucking leach.
    Every soldier in battle that takes the warzone exemption is a government sucking leach.
    Every student living at home that doesn't earn enough to pay taxes is a government sucking leach.
    Every worker who takes a foreign job that uses the expat exemption to eliminate their taxes is a government sucking leach.
    The irony is that most have a legitimate reason for the status of not paying federal income taxes and it is amazing that Mitt is so bitter about his 15% tax rate.
    Every last wage earner in this country that earns less than 100k pays that rate right off the top in SS between their own and their employer's contribution before all the other taxes even come into play!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • rancho

      No you have it all wrong. He is referring to people who abuse the system. The current path we are on is unstainable and our current President refuses to address it. and if we continue there will be nothing for everyone.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • S Adams

      Soc Sec wasn't meant to be enough to retire.......but it also wasn't mean to be stolen from in order to pay people on disability. And Romney was only referring to those who can work but have no incentive to do so...ie....a person(s) is on unemployment or disb, food stamps and other programs to assist them. They make more money than me and it's all tax free....(well, they at least decided to tax some of the unemployment. so why work? just saying

      September 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solitairedog

      So, Rancho, are you saying that 47% of Americans "abuse the system" ??? and apparently every one them are people who vote for Obama? Do you know how silly that sounds?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve1959

    This is the kind of hatchet job that keeps CNN so far down in the ratings polls. Rather than trying to compete with the heavyweight, Fox News, They continue competing with lightweights like MSNBC, CBS, ABC,and even their own HLN. You guys need to turn things around or you're not even going to be a blip on Nielson's radar.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • S Adams

      Amen – they are so just out to get Obama re-elected....It's like junior high...they want their "man" not what is best for the country....

      September 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kareen

    TRUTH

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Virginia McElvaney

      I agree he was just telling the truth.

      September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dee G.

    Romney won't show his tax returns because he's hiding the fact that he' a part of that 47%.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Victoria

    R-Money's campaign is OVER. I wasn't especially worried about him winning before these tapes, but now... well, I'm just gonna put my feet up, sip my martini, and watch the far right frantically scramble to repair an irreparable error.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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