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. Willie

    98% of the 47% are freeloaders. Now get off your butts and do some work.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • zandhcats

      And the Republicans send the welfare checks to people in their states. I told you guys long times ago, Republicans love poor, more people collect welfare and food stamps under Bush adm., not Obama.

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

      The same source the 47% comes from puts it at 18% if you exclude people paying payroll taxes.
      Romney just doesn't like people who work for wages.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Slim

    Does not matter how bad the Rombot insults his base. Mr. Rice is just one example. They will still vote him even if it means voting against their own best interest. two things drive conservatives...social issues and hatred of Obama.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Morgan Hill

    Voice of Wisdom, You are absolutely right. Where we live in the Bay Area, jobs are in abundance. If you're looking for a job you will find one. When we go to restaurants, the parking lots are full of cars. Well, we know that cars bring people. Businesses are picking up slowly but surely. We are moving Forward, just like we expect. Under a Romney presidency we would go backward. Another war, increased taxes, give more to the rich, less regulations for corporations, anything the rich ask for, they will get it. Rich corporations will run our country. Romney is a puppet.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JG

    who is John Galt?

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

      ol' Paul R'ayn or Lyin Ryan

      September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. S Adams

    romney speaks truth....

    September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Winchester100

    Here is something nobody really thought about. IF you spread the money out more... the IRS/Govt. will collect far less revenue. It is far easier for the IRS and State Tax Agencies to just take the 35% + 6% ( Georgia as example ) tax rates from a few highly paid individuals than to spread it out over more employees and take a FAR smaller tax rate.. The redistribution of wealth theory will cause an instant substantial decrease in collected revenues for the taxing authorities. Furthermore if the IRS et. al. are pursuing tax revenues from more people; they will need to have more people on staff....expenses go up. Having a 1% is far more effective in generating large tax collection.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. san01

    So, there are some here who applaud Robme on "honesty"??
    Well, how about him opening up an "honest" view of the WMDs in Iraq,... about GWB's lies for going to Iraq,... about Bain Capital replacing American workers w/ Chinese workers, which is why middle class people lost their jobs and fell into poverty,... and then Robme saying that it was their "fault" that they lost their jobs, not Bains'.
    Romney, GWB, Wall Street, etc, are hell-bent on turning the US into a 3rd world country.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. A Member of the 53

    Let's all be honest for a second – though times are tough, if you think about the people in your life who are without work or are needing assistance for perhaps the 2nd, 3rd, 4th time in their life – then you are not thinking about the people with a constant motor and a drive to work their hardest / best at all times. Those are the people who are the last to get fired / laid off / severed, and the first to get a new job or make an opportunity for themselves. (And don't come back at me about your elderly parent or someone with a medical hardship etc.). Bottom line is, this is America – if you want it, all you have to do is reach out and take it. If not, then just sit back, take another sip off your beer or another hit off your joint and complain about how bad it is out there.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      So you're lecturing the 18% who pay no income tax nor payroll tax? I didn't bother looking to see how many of those are retirees or disabled veterans to adjust the number further, I do have work to do.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Said while he's drinking bubbly and snorting white powder. Porr man's vice, rich man's vice, the result is the same.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Member of the 53

      Nah. My only vices are 50-55 hours of work a week, meager food from our $80 a week grocery budget (for my family of 4) and quality time with my wife and kids – which is free, by the way.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. justavoter

    You can't have a presidental candidate come out and say he's not going to help 47% of the population. A president is supposed to be a leader for all the people of the counrty. I understand there are people who abuse the system but there are others for no fault of their own who need the governments help. He just doesn't get it.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lorie

    If Romney paid 13% income taxes as per his statement in (NY Times Aug 2012), based on his income for the past 2 years of $42.7 million (CNN Money Jan 2012), He paid over 5.5 MILLION dollars over the two year period. Waste your time on something worthwhile, maybe determining whether the 44th President of the United States is worthy of the trust granted to him.
    In my opinion, your arguement is legitimate and valid only if you pay more in taxes and want the name of his tax preparation lawyer.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Diane

    I have even more respect for Romney than I did before. He did not try to do the politically correct thing and take back what he said or try to apologize. He speaks the truth and it is about time we have someone like that in office!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Biased_CNN

    CNN cannot come up with a more meaningful and objective news anymore. Instead of an obvious campaign media for one candidate (and a demolition team for the other candidate), why not be objective in presenting both sides equally to guide the voting public. That's you duty.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. what do I know

    ask your self this question:will we return to the days of President Bush? think about who you are voting for
    in Nov. we are on the right track I see changes in the economic people are buying cars and
    houses again. no matter what party you like we must keep this train rolling and vote for the good of all people.
    just do the right thing.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Walrus Mustache

    hahahahahaha Mitt is over. He's a steak. Stick a fork in him he's done.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • sumguy2006

      Funny...polls are tighter then ever.

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

      Give 'em a few days to catch up with this one.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HeadsupYall

    Mitt in this video was trying to appeal to the middle, the independents. Like so many other things Mitt has tried in his brief stint in the big leagues, it backfired.

    ..... because ironically, after hearing the video comments, 30% of the independents said they'd be less likely to vote for him, and only 15% said they'd be more likely to vote for him.Gong! Bye bye, Robme. Grab your mitt and go back to the minors.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
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