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. Conservative Voice

    America has not been this divided since the war of yankee agression against the South.

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

      It really is a shame that the South didn't secede. If the entire southern perimeter of this country were sucked into the earth and never seen again both higher reason and justice would be served.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Young & AMERICAN!

    Every one is quick to blame Romney and even Obama for mistakes they have done and things they have said! So what Romney said that if you don't like it don't vote for him! I wish every one would just shut up and if you feel like you can change things then you RUN FOR PRESIDENT!

    September 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rafael

    Class warfare is and always has been what this land has been about. I thank God we have a man that brought that war to the right door step.

    Obamacare insured my poor family will have a chance to live just as long as others. The 5% that make 250k a year feel they should get all the good stuff and the rest craps. Well wake up, it's over, it's our time to eat, weather you like or not. The only choice you basically have now is to suck it up and deal with it or leave America and take your business and money with you. That simple.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SC

    His foot is in his mouth again. He does not think before he speaks. Can't imagine him being president. We would not be friends with any other countries because of his mouth. Obama/Biden 2012.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. UrbanMommy

    Huge mistake. 25% of the 47% are the elderly on Medicare, a system they've been paying into their whole working lives. Why, now, would any elder person vote for someone who would think this way?

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

    Class warfare is and always has been what this land has been about. I thank God we have a man that brought that war to the right door step.

    Obamacare insured my poor family will have a chance to live just as long as others. The 5% that make 250k a year feel they should get all the good stuff and the rest craps. Well wake up, it's over, it's our time to eat, weather you like or not. The only choice you basically have now is to deal with it or leave America and take your business and money with you. That simple.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. your even more dumb

    Romney is a toolbag, too many self inflicted wounds

    September 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nathan

    Yawn... How many more stories is CNN going to do on this? Reminds me of Obama's sharing the wealth comment, and the Church tapes etc... Why haven't they released the whole speech instead of snippets?

    September 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. OneVoice

    It's my money, I earned it and God has blessed me, am I my brother's keeper? What? A goverment that cares for it's own? If you believe that your tax dollars pay for the lazy, unwilling to work individuals, you are as out of touch as Mitt.
    People that are between jobs, people with families.....senior citizens, veterans. Many that are dependant on our government of which they have supported their whole lives. Many worked hard, served in the military and helped to build this country. They may now need their brother's assistance through these difficult times that the Republican party have helped to make. Millions out of work and millions on government assistance. It was Bush and Repulican policies that plunged us in this economic crisis. We have been trying to clean up the mess for nearly 4 years with the resisistance of the Republicans the entire time. I will never support a party again that doesn't care for its own.
    Republicans sounds like their brother.......Cain.

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

      There is a big difference between 26 weeks of unemployment and 2.5 years. If you want work it's out there. Yes – you may get all your taxes back at the end of the year. That's Great! You need It. BUT If someone is willing to pay you to stay home – willing to pay you Food Stamps – Willing to give you housing Assistance..... You will not look for Work – You will stay home – and worse – you will be teaching your kids to do the same. Big difference between giving a person and hand up vs. creating generations of depenance on the government.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rafael

    Obamacare insured my poor family will have a chance to live just as long as others. The 5% that make 250k a year and the 1% feel they should get all the good stuff and the rest scraps. Well wake up, it's over, it's our time to eat, weather you like or not. The only choice you basically have now is to deal with it or leave America and take your business and money with you. That simple.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      If they take their business and their money, who will pay the taxes that go to pay for your food stamps, your health care, your every day handouts?

      September 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      its your time to eat? Work hard, save your money and sacrifice and don't have a family if you can't afford one! Pay for yourself!!!!!! It's what America is! Move to europe if you want handouts!

      September 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yo Yo Bro

      Not too poor. You obviously have internet access and a computer. Betcha got a cell phone too.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      LOL first off us the 95% pay more taxes then the 5%. 2 I have the right to raise a family if I want and at the same time not be squeezed by the 5%. Man you guys can be so so so greedy its a shame, and the man reason we need Obama.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mactsr

    note to Willard

    Time throw in the towel.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. OneVoice

    And I'm not talking about Herman Cain

    September 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lindy

    He told the truth but people don't want to hear it..we are TRILLIONS in the hole! Where do these people
    think the money is going to come from?

    September 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • your even more dumb

      Romney has the audacity to criticize those on government assistence, yet goes as far as parking his money on foreign soil to avoid paying us taxes. Real hero right there.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • moakley

      A conutry with this much debt has no business trying to remain an empire. What's Romney's plan cut taxes and increase spending on the military, empire building.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Backbone or plain unadultered Greed? GOP (Greedy On Parade)

    September 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave Sines

    Romney didn't change my mind; just confirmed what I already thought about him. He's not evil. He's just WAY out of touch with most Americans. He counts in the 47% those who get Social Security income...well, those people for the most part put money into that system and likely paid income taxes at some point in their working lives. Also, EVERYONE pays sales taxes, so he's not considering that contribution that the poor people and those getting Social Security benefits make. He is not presidential material, and thankfully the polls to date show that he's likely going to lose.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      " He's not evil. He's just WAY out of touch with most Americans. " It's like he grew up on a tiny island where everyone knew him and his folks. He's just not from around here.

      September 19, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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