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. Shakira

    I was on Food Stamps for a time, I just got a job that is only part time and minimum wage. I am still on Food Stamps but less. I pay taxes, work and get government help, for Romney to look down on me shows what an elitist snob he is. He lost my vote, this was the straw that broke my support for him. Well done Mittens, another vote lost.

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

      he never had your vote.... who in the heck do you think you're kidding?

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

      Gov. Romney spoke his truth at the recorded gathering of "his base." He and his running mate are classist, elitist – certainly not "of, by and for the people."

      It boggles the mind how full of contempt and hatred and racism so many people are of President Obama. Considering the GOP in Washington DC colluded to obstruct our President – at every turn possible – I believe the President accomplished a great deal.

      Just think of how much better things could be had the GOP been committed to our country and its people – instead of ridding the White House of a black man.

      Pitiful, this sorry group of Right Wing Extremists – whether elected or not. Sad for our country.

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

      So....basically you are saying that he is right....

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

      As soon as you called him 'Mittens' you exposed yourself. how much do they pay you to impersonate a frustrated republican? isn't it pathetic that they have to pay people to pretend to exist because those people really don't? lol

      The fact is that it doesn't matter what Romney says, we've seen three years of Obama and everyone is worse off, EVERYONE. If you want more of the same, well you were already going to vote for obammah anyway.

      Nothing to see here, move along.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shakira

      Yea he did, I have little and no use for President Obama and agree with Mitt on certain things. However when you look your nose down at people trying to survive, who work, and yes pay taxes like I do you will lose votes.

      @ Ticked, no he isn't right. I work, pay taxes unlike what he said and yes I do get a little help from the goverment but each month it is less which is fine with me. Welfare is supposed to be temporary which for my family it is. I am not voting for him because I get Food Stamps, I am not voting for him because he is clueless on what the working family goes through and shows his contempt for it.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shakira

      I called him "Mittens" because I am angry at his contempt for the working class not because I am some fake Republican. However think what you want, oddly I am better off under Obama then I was under Bush with a job which I didn't have under Bush.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Motoman

      saftgek: "It boggles the mind how full of contempt and hatred and racism so many people are of President Obama."

      ...because heaven knows, anyone who disagrees with obammah can't fault his rigid adherence to proven failed policies, we must be racists! aaargh!

      Sorry, that card has lost it's edge and we will no longer be silenced by being called racists. I typically respond with 'simpleton' and it fits.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. liberalMentality

    @Pat and the like: thanks for explaining the 'liberal mentality'. As a 'fiscally and socially conservative' (yes) liberal who values democracy, modern technology, public education, family, and tolerance, I had mistakenly thought liberalism was a vision of a progressive society where we acknowledge we can't "be in it alone" and "we didn't build that" all ourselves, as articulated by Clinton and Obama at the DNC. However, you've now made me understand Ayn Rand was right after all; I'm just a whiner who wants the terrorists to win.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hartshwk

    The part I really like about this video is the complete invisibility to the audience and Romney of the wait staff. Aren't they the people that he is really talking about in his comments?

    I hope it was one of the wait staff that actually leaked the video.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. codepink1908

    FIRST AND FOREMOST ITS FALSE; SO YEA IT WAS A MISTAKE!!!!!

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

      It was absolutely NOT a mistake. Gov. Romney spoke from his true beliefs, and from a heart made of spreadsheets and off-shore accounts.

      The sooner the Right opens their eyes – and stops hating – the sooner they will embrace one simple fact: the GOP doesn't give a rat's posterior about people – only SELECT people.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Ahhh....hate to say it but it is about spreadsheets and being able to read and understand them. That's why the last four years hasn't moved us much...this president, while young and hip on technology, still thinks it is an old fashioned world and viewing it as such. If obne wishes to understand how the world now moves, simply look at where the Chineese are willing to fight us- in the boardroom. Those without anything to protect other than ideas use terrorism and those with geography to protect use business and money.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Po Boy

    Where was the truth in his Latino comment?

    September 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tinister

    LOL. You're a fool. Romney's remarks in the video are offensive for two main reasons:
    1) Although Romney is correct in that most of these people don't pay income taxes – he has committed a "guilt of omission by not pointing out exactly WHY these people don't pay income taxes. And it is NOT because they don't want to or avoid paying income taxes.He condemns everyone in the 47% as freeloaders when if you actually look at the numbers; the majority of these people are not chronic dependents. Elderly people who have worked their entire lives and are now retired and living on social security are not freeloaders. Injured war veterans who can no longer work are not freeloaders. People who are out of work or under-employed are not freeloaders. So Romney's remarks are NOT factually accurate by a long stretch. The only obvious freeloaders in the group are the several thousand multi-millionaires who somehow managed to avoid paying a single penny in income tax – and they're not disabled, or elderly, or unemployed/underemployed.

    2) The WAY Romney spoke was offensive. He did not say that he felt sorry for these people (as he claims now). He did not say that he wants to help raise them up into the middle class (as he now claims). In fact – he said the exact opposite. He gave the strong impression that they did not deserve his help. I can't even look at the liar anymore.

    He's not fooling anyone but fools like you. LOL

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

      well said

      September 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • saftgek

      "tinister" – - – Amen, and Amen, and Amen ! Excellent post !

      September 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • NIDDDD

      He didnt feel sorry? Why do you need someone to feel sorry for you? If Sen. Romney showed up at your section 8 housing just to say "im sorry" what the hell does that mean to you? nothing. And stop calling your fellow Americans fools.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      It may be helpful to understand the question asked in order to understand if our read on the answer is or is not correct? What is the context or do we rally not care? I want context for BOTH men or my vote will be one of ignorance and manipulation.

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

      @ NIDDDD I didn't say anyone should feel sorry for these people. I said Romney claims to feel sorry for them that now. Now that he's trying to dig himself out of the hole he dug himself into. He actually doesn't.

      Try to read slower if you find yourself struggling to understand large blocks of words. Or read out loud. That helped me immensely in the 4th grade.

      Fool.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Was he speaking of the 47% Obama base that has not moved but very little and he expects not to move or was he simply speaking federal tax wise. Was he saying that reducing taxes would NOT attract from this group becasue they already do not pay federal taxes? I do not know what he was speaking to and simply reacting to what he said seems like an 'I gottcha' moment like the Cambridge 'Racism' of police, or 'wealthy' comments, etc. Need more information.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cally

      Very well said. I'm a Republican and I pay taxes, but I'll be voting for Obama for lack of other options.

      I'm so completely disgusted with knee-jerking Romney and his smarmy, condescending, and downright stupid and insulting remarks. He would never have had the guts to make those remarks right out in public, if the video hadn't forced the issue. And he still isn't releasing HIS tax records - (offshore accounts, anyone? $77000 deduction for his wife's horse, anyone?). I don't feel like I can trust a single word coming out of his mouth.

      Also I'm sick of the increasingly unscientific, hateful and intrusive religious leanings of the GOP. Here's a thought... we don't care what your brand of religion says. Get your stupid religious beliefs off our bodies and off our right to love/marry any other consenting adult.

      Back to the 47%... yes, there is some small percentage of people who are lazy leeches, but it certainly isn't the 47% (mostly elderly, wounded vets, young military families, etc. Not to mention plenty of millionaires!) Funny how Romney has no plan for actually identifying true leeches and doing something about it.

      Yes, there are lots of criticisms to be made about Obama. For one thing, I am genuinely alarmed about the deficit. But Obama's not the only power in DC. Why haven't Congressional Republicans gotten together and accomplished anything?

      I don't want to be a Democrat, but I sure hate being a Republican these days!

      September 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Socrates

    Zarathustra has spoken.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sandie shuck

    Do people not get what Romney is saying. I know as I work with at-risk kids how many have been raised on welfare homes. Obama seems like he is the hero of the poor and wants to keep them there for votes.
    I want our nation to inspire our young people not trap them.
    And do not tell me that young adults do not get welfare. There are thousands and thousands of young women and men on food stamps, subsided housing and free medical.
    The problem Romney has is that he assumed people would be bright enough to know he was not talking about welfare when it came to the disabled and the elderly. They are on social security

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

      Romney's problem is that he's an idiot. He called 47% of the public freeloaders. This, of course, is a huge lie. The vast majority of these folks are working. But they make to little, after deductions, to pay federal income taxes. But, they still pay taxes – payroll taxes going to SS and Medicare. Sales tax in many states. State and local income taxes in places. Another large group is the elderly and the disabled.

      And even though it's a small number, there are 14,000 folks making $500,000 or more a year.

      I wonder why Romney didn't explain it this way?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. catdaddy

    What bothers me is the man will say anything to anybody at anytime to get elected. he wants to be president just to be president–cause his daddy wasn't. From his past statements, you don't know if he means what he said or not, but you can be assured that his supporters do. They are the haters. They make no distinction about why a person doesn't pay taxes–retired on social security, large family and low income, disabled vet–it doesn't matter they need someone to hate. They can be living on a government check themselves but still hate the 47%. To them, they deserve their check and everyone else is a welfare queen driving a Cadillac to pick up their food stamps. One thing is for sure, like an earlier writter said, Romeny will wax the floor with Obama in the debates–spread the word, you can count on it.

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

      Oh come on, I can ask the same questions of almost any and every politician. Look at what each has done. Words are meaningless...if you are hapy with where we are as a nation and it coincides with this president, then vote for him. If this is the best we can do...then cast the vote that states it. All I know is that both these guys want to run my company and based on prior performance, if I want to stay in business one outshines the other. One has a history of performance and one has a history of speaking with not much to match it? Pretty simple choice really. I don;t care about speeches and getting caught linguistically in little traps.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Glenn from FLORIDA

    Mitt Romney was and is correct in what he said. Mitt is telling every one that you can and should do better that what you are doing. The 47% is in a bad spot do to the past four (4) years under the president President. We each need to ask our selves who put us here and why. If you satisfied, then smile and stay as you are. If you are not satisfied, then vote for Mitt Romney as he is the only right choose we have. Please look at each man's qualifications and what eash has done. I'm a Democrat and I have looked very hard at this election. I did not vote for this president due to the fact he did not have what this country needed, and this election I will vote for Mitt Romney do to the fact he knows how to and will correct the 18% plus unemployed as well as the 47% he is talking about. The U.S.A. must have Mitt Romney as its President this time.

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

      Reflecting on the 8 year reign of the Bush-Cheney Regime, I have long believed no one could have been less competent and more destructive than GW Bush. I now admit I was wrong!

      Gov. Romney has demonstrated, at every turn, he would be a miserable failure as POTUS. He hasn't a clue about anything – has no platform or values. He is but a talking head for the GOP leadership (sic). Gov. Romney and his running mate are quite prepared to further destroy our country and out culture, beyond what the Bush-Cheney Regime already did.

      What is wrong with so many in our country that they will blindly follow the nonsense of the likes of Boehner, Kyl, McConnell, ad nauseum? Anyone who supports the Romney/Ryan ticket cannot – in good conscience – call themselves a patriot.

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

      Well said Glenn.

      saftgek, you think romney has demonstrated that he would be a miserable failure as POTUS. Ok, I can accept that belief.

      But what about the last four years where obammah has PROVEN himself a failure in the actual job of POTUS? Six trillion in new debt but a net loss of job and a country more divided than ever. Four more years of that? Really?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      @saftgek: Seriously. I will go back to this presidents first three executive orders. Upon the signing of those executive orders in front of the press, when he was asked what they would do he could not answer and deferred to others to expalin what was in them. One was the closing of the dentention center which is still open. That was my first inkling of what was to come and I have to say, it has niot been an improvement. I remember Eisenhower and there are but two presidents this president can compare with- Nixon and Carter. His overall performance compares- that is not a good thing. Time to change things up and if in four years things are not improved- I'll do the same- I don't care about party- both have given us some very good and some very poor leaders. This is a time we have nt been given a good one.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. maltytasker

    It doesn't matter if it was the truth. Those remarks showed what he thinks of and how he feels about those who are less fortunate, which makes me wonder how his policies, if he is elected, will treat those who need government help to survive.

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

      What was the question asked? If you do not know the question, how do you know how to interpret the answer?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tank

    Not an issue. There is too much history of each man to worry about steps and misteps and media coverage. My vote will be based on past performance and that makes it very easy. Words are meaningless with this much history of success and failure. The final weeks of any election have little to do with ones ability- only ones ability to kill the character of another- I am not interested nor will I be swayed by that capacity.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I pay taxes, work, and depend on the government for roads, police, fire fighters, snow plowing, and lots of other stuff. This makes me a Commie Socialist who is dependent on the government. Mitt and Annie are like the Howells on Gilligan's Iisland but with Gilligan and the Skipper making minimum wage, Ginger and Mary Ann being accused of being welfare moms, and the Professor being accused of being an elitist because he went to college. Thurston and Lovey are more endearing than the Romneys. The US is going to disappear after Obama is elected??? Too bad because I already paid for my vacation.

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

      "John" – - – Excellent Post! I especially love the punch line ! You, sir, are a Patriot ! ! !

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

      LOL...I must be a commie-socialist also (and proud of it) because I believe a strong sense of community. I'm grateful there was the government unemployment benefit when my husband got laid off for 6 months back in 2009. I'm glad our son was able to get a Pell grant for his college education...he worked full time and saved for 3 years before going, and it still wasn't quite enough to pay the whole bill. We are part of the 53% who pay taxes, and we proudly support President Obama.

      October 2, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A Member of the 53

    What is so sad about this is that many in the 53% have FAR LESS "disposable" income than their 47% counterparts. Not only are we paying taxes and buying our own groceries, but we also pay our own insurance, contribute to our 401k's (so we won't need assistance when we get older), buy Long Term Care Insurance etc. We are responsible and therefore our paychecks get decimated. My neighbors and family members that "make less" than me (and therefore are "less fortunate") do not have $80 grocery budgets (for a family of 4), clip coupons, sell everything that is not nailed down on eBay, consider cutting their cable and drive 11 year old vehicles. Taxes and Good Citizenship are the great equalizer. Work harder. Many people out there who can't or won't need YOU to keep THEIR world afloat – never mind your sacrifice.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Glenn from FLORIDA

    Mitt Romney was and is correct in what he said. Mitt is telling every one that you can and should do better that what you are doing. The 47% is in a bad spot do to the past four (4) years under the president President. We each need to ask our selves who put us here and why. If you satisfied, then smile and stay as you are. If you are not satisfied, then vote for Mitt Romney as he is the only right choose we have. Please look at each man's qualifications and what eash has done. I'm a Democrat and I have looked very hard at this election. I did not vote for this president due to the fact he did not have what this country needed, and this election I will vote for Mitt Romney do to the fact he knows how to and will correct the 18% plus unemployed as well as the 47% he is talking about. The U.S.A. needs Mitt Romney as President.

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