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. kate

    These comments are so wrong - 44% of these non tax paying citizens are retired senior citizens who spent a life time working and paying taxes and now collect the social security they PAID INTO all the years they worked. Your parents and grandparents... They paid more into the program than they will ever take out and are in no way living off of the 53% who pay taxes today. And the ones who are working and not paying taxes are doing so because they either earn too little or are using loopholes created primarily by republican politicans (for votes). Get real people. Stop believing everything you hear just because it is what you want to believe. The ones who quickly jump on the bandwagon and believe so easily and judge so quickly oddly often consider themselves "christian". Hypocracy at its finest. Now run back to your church where you try to hide your selfish ways. Grotesque, sad, pathetic.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobjones

    CNN, you call yourselves journalists? Does being sycophantic boot-licking Obamabots qualify you for journalistic credentials? Why yes ... yes it does.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      bobjones, yes the faux news mittbots are out in force after Faux news closed the comment blogs

      September 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Don't blame CNN for crying out loud they posted equal number of comments of support for Romneys words and disagreement with his words. They posted from people who disagreed yet were still going to vote for Romney. The bottom line is if all you can do is point at CNN when clearly in Romney's own words he divides an American in to one he cares about and one he does not then you don't really care about the facts here anyway. Romney wants to follow the George Bush doctrine of selling American industry, American environmental policies, American government, American military might, American citizenship to the highest bidder. I am not going to sit back and accept this.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. allen

    Truth hurts.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GetOverIt

    Wow, what a candidate. That this election is even close can only be attributable to the depth of the naked hatred and vitriol that the Republican Right and the Tea Party has for Obama.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Socrates

      The Republicans and the intellectual members of the Tea Party will never forgive Obama for being black.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Sure, it has nothing to do with Obama's failures over the last 4 years. Blind hatred of Obama is the only possible explanation. You should play the race card next.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Member of the 53

      I think they just did.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    "Pay attention to what's important

    Obama has done nothing to bring those jobs back to the US and he has had 4 years to do so. .Don't let him get away with blamig anyone else for that. In fact it's getting worse."

    If he sat on every one of those corporate boards he may have been able to do that. Dummy!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • mgc tampa

      The worst recession in history and you wanted it all fixed in 4 years after 30 years of getting here? really, are you that dumb??

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

      If you would have been looking at the job report you would see manufacturing jobs are starting to trickle back into our economy. There are tax break available right now for companies looking to relocate back to the US. But you say nothing has been done. If you have to lie to yourself about voting for Romney, then go right ahead.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Obama's policies have brought mfg jobs back to America in pretty fair numbers, look it up. He has also lost many many government jobs too, look that up. The GOP have been after teachers, police, fireman, administrators and any other government job in over half the states while they try to attack unions they are putting people OUT of work. So sure Obama has been losing some government jobs but we ARE adding jobs each month not many but the number is positive and in all honesty if we didnt' have a host of governors and congressmen fighting Obama every step of the way perhaps more could have been done after Bush through America's economy under the bus.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cam

    It is true that 47% of Americans don't pay taxes, but the part that ticks me off is that Romney feels that those people are content with being in that 47% and never want to get off of government assistance.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      It doens't matter if they are content or not, they are still the leaches of society...

      September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Socrates

      It is the truth that 47% plus Romney do not pay taxes.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Actually it would be a very small minority that pays nothing in taxes. Sales tax, rents cover property tax, social security and medicare taxes. The only taxes not paid would be the designated income tax because their employers don't pay them a living wage.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Okay here is your 47% (actually 46.4%) divided up. 22.5% are seniors who collect pensions and SS and make less than 25K per year. 15.2% are working poor who have 2-3 jobs but get childhood care credit on top of earned income credit the childhood care credit was inacted by Clinton and doubled by Bush. 9% do not pay taxes for these reasons 1. they are lazy greedy punks who won't try to work. 2. They make less than the poverty line and get all their money refunded. 3. They have education deductions that put them in the low income category. 4. They have special capital gains rates that allow them not to show income. 5. They live off Dividends. The IPC states between 4 and 7K millionaires pay NO taxes. I make 43K per yr. I pay very little federal income tax and low state income tax, I pay property tax on my home and I live week to week pay check to pay check I have a car made in 1999 and I am sick of these Rich folks telling me that "Trickle down economics" is working. Providing for the "job creators" has since 2000 shown the upper 2% of America to have an average increase in Salary or income of over 32% while the rest of us have shown between -4% and 2.5% increase in the same 10 yr period. Obama is right to tax them and level the playing field with China as well as redistribute the wealth.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lord Toronaga

    Mitt Romney is going to win with this new honest statement. It took plenty of courage to say it. Obama has no such ability.

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

      He forgot to tell us where he has his offshore accounts. Usually wealthy people like Mitt Romney has offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes in the US, Einstein.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • mgc tampa

      Yep takes a lot of courage to insult retirees, the disabled, our men and women in the service. With courage like that who and stupid people like you who I am sure is also probably in the 47% hes a lock!

      September 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • your even more dumb

      Yeah, he is really pulling away in the polls, I see he's up in 1 of the 10 battleground states. And he's got a huge grip on the latino, women, and all othernon white male vote.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Yeah all from a billionaire who pays a much smaller percentage in taxes than most of us do.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      You "less than perfect" liberals love to sling insults. Next, I am not impressed with your logic or sniveling. Get a backbone or something.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Don't worry Romney's tax returns were hacked by anonymous so we will see his returns on 9/28 unless they pay them 1 million$ and then we will see what Romney is hidding....ha ha ha Romney is the gift that keeps on giving to Obama!!

      September 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wjeri

    Mistake and truth. Some things have to be explained better so others do not take it the wrong way or vice a versa. More tact Mitt.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Charles

    I have been skeptical of Romney from the start but have been trying to give him a chance...and he just keeps failing.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Doug

    You know, I would like to hear from some of the former employees when Mitt was governor.. This is not his first trip to the rodeo, but he acts like it is.. The former employees will give us insight as to what MItt was like back them, and we can expect more of the same.. oh, I will never vote for Mitt, a rich dumb azzs..

    September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WVLady63

    If you are a Republican and you tell the truth, you are crucified! If you are a Democrat and LIE, you are REVERED! ROMNEY TOLD THE TRUTH! WAY TO GO MR. ROMNEY KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! WHAT IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE NOW HAS NO CLUE AS TO WHAT THE TRUTH IS!

    September 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • your even more dumb

      And your thought process seems to be so deranged. This coming from a man who parks his money on foreign soil to avoid paying taxes. Real class right there.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      The truth as he sees it...and evidently as you see it. So if all those people were paid a living wage could they stay in the same 13% tax bracket Mittens is in? For that matter can I get in that tax bracket rather than the 30% I am currently in?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rickinmo

      The problem with Romney is not that he doesn't tell the truth. The problem is that HE DOESN'T KNOW THE TRUTH. He doesn't understand that the people who don't pay federal income tax don't have anything to pay tax with. Unlike millionaires and corporations who do everything they can to avoid taxes, the 47% don't have anything to avoid paying taxes on. You're are talking about the working poor, the elderly and retired people including the retired military the Republicans claim to love when it's convenient. After all, they do our country's dirty work. These are not people who want to depend on government. They are hard working, old and retired people who get just as upset as Republicans when they see people who game the system for their own benefit. Telling the truth is one thing; ignoring facts is another.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. LouinNM

    The majority of the 47% are poor elderly who make less than $20,000 but still pay SS tax and Medicare tax are called-bloodsuckers. Do these people have the lobbing power to get these breaks? What do you call the 4000 millionaires who don't pay any federal income taxes?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DAVE


    September 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • your even more dumb

      It takes balls to criticize those on government assitence, when you yourself would go as far to parking your money on foreign soil to avoid paying taxes. Real patriot right there, go pat yourself on the back.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaryM

      dave, why dont you quote mitt and READ exactly what mitt said. Absolutely disgusting

      September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Socrates

      He forgot to tell us where he has his offshore accounts. Usually wealthy people like Mitt Romney has offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes in the US, Einstein. I don't understand how poor working class Republicans don't see this as an issue. You are supporting somebody who is cheating the country they want to be president. It is ridiculous.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Not only does Mittens cheat at his own taxes through offshore accounts he derides those who aren't paid a living wage and seems proud of himself. If that is the American Way as Mitt sees it, no thanks!

      September 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rafael

    Here are three facts for you Romney and why my vote will undeniably go towards Obama.

    1. Most if not everything Obama said he wanted to accomplish as President in his last DNC in 2008, he has accomplished.

    2.Romney destroyed the state of MA as governor and the same exact proposals he propose then, he proposes now.

    3. You are not in it for every American great or small.

    Both Facts.

    September 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Both implies 2 not 3 statements, fail... but either way, Obama has not acomplished much, that is fact... Please check your statement before making uneducated posts...

      September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      Your right in a way... He hasn't accomplished anything that you feel benefits you. Only those you despise! You fail as a human being.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Motoman

      Rafael, please explain yourself:

      "1. Most if not everything Obama said he wanted to accomplish as President in his last DNC in 2008, he has accomplished."
      -Cutting the deficit in half? Nope, he added SIX TRILLION dollars in new debt. That's your kids labor he spent, mine too, for what? GDP hasn't improved and fewer people are working than when he took office. All fails.

      "2.Romney destroyed the state of MA as governor and the same exact proposals he propose then, he proposes now."
      Romney was a single moderate republican, the rest of the government in MA is and has been rabid leftists. Of course, they're blameless in any failings of their doing, right?

      "3. You are not in it for every American great or small."
      As opposed to Obama's inclusiveness? LOL! Surely you jest! The king divider, chopping us all into little demographics and pitting us against each other in divide and conquer tactics just like Alinsky suggests ...but you think Romney is not in it for all of us because he points out a fact?

      Wait a minute, don't democrats abhor partial recordings? They're never relevant, right?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. san01

    The "truth" ?? How about that Wall Street free loader having a dialogue on GWB's lies on Iraq, about Chinese people replacing US workers to let that free loader get more money, about Bain capitals' laying off middle class people who are now in that 47%, etc ?

    September 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
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