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. Steve Newman

    Would someone on Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, receiving a pension guaranteed by the PBC, receiving long term capital gains, dividend income, working in the energy patch with its excessive deductions (not to mention that fracking was invented by Mitchell Energy under the same program that funded Solyndra), students with loans guaranteed by the government, etc. etc. vote for Romney? Nope. He can't seem to function on either the national or the international stage. Frankly, he is just not presidential timber. But, then again, neither was W., the guy who created this mess.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. John Henson

    What the poll proves is 24 percent of those who defended Romney are ignorant buffoons.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. skog

    Truth.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Dr Jeff Thompson

    Oh dear...the classic republican line:

    I GOT MINE.....YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN"

    September 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • skog

      Classic liberal line, "youve worked for yours now give me some. So I dont have to."

      September 19, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      Sounds fair to me. If you refuse to work....no money for you.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul321

      Nothing wrong with having what you have. What is wrong is to be in a position to take it all ... and then to take it, turning your back on those that helped you get there. Very very few can stand on their own and be truthful in saying i did this all on my own.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rich, Texas

    You should tell that to Warren Buffett, the only billionaire that Democrats like.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bunkie Moon

    Obama controles the main Stream Media spin machine . His (its) goal is to define Romney in the worst light , then spin it as objective journalism . Emotional appeal , attack and amush media tactics , is to make Romeny the hated enemy . Question is , why is the media attacking Romney , instead of fair and ballanced reporting based upon emiricle evidence and true objective journalism ? Its "Obama worship" , that had MS(NBC). ABC,CBS,CNN,NPR have for Obama that scewers polls and media reports . The Media loves Obama , hates Romney , and wants you to believe everything your told , regardless if it is true , or a propaganda lie spun (framed) issue it wants you to blindly believe . Sad .

    September 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. PolTragCom

    The challenge with Mitt's comments is that more than 47% will feel it applies to them simply because the 47% he claims will vote for Obama are not perfectly overlapped with the 47% that don't pay federal income tax (but do pay federal payroll taxes and state/local taxes). Its called a simple Venn diagram - look it up or ask any elementary/middle school kid about it. And, I'm keeping it simple here...in reality there are many non-overlapping circles that Mitt offended - for instance Obama voters that pay the max income tax rate, have been lucky enough not to need govt assistance but are human enough to realize that if there are those in society that need help or are owed help (like veterans) its core to American (and human) values to ensure its provided.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ro

    My average tax rate is about 30%. So I am not in the category that Romney derisevly refers to as the 47%.

    I feel that Romney was completely wrong to be so dismissive about a large section of people who work hard and are not paying taxes not because they are victims but simply because they are the working poor. He should realize he was given many opportunities by his father and should not be so derisive when others are given a helping hand.

    The Brits had it just about right – Mitt the Twit

    September 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Pumaman

    Pumaman likes Mittens. Mittens says bold new statements. Never before heard..... Obama says boring stuff.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • oopshediditagain

      The reason there is such a disparity in who pays taxes right now is because of our tax code. The only way to ever solve this issue is to change the tax code in the US so loopholes dont exist for rich and poor to exploit. Everyone screams for Romney to show his tax returns yet the very person in congress who is asking for it wont show his. Why might you ask probably because he is exploiting the same loopholes Romney is close the dang loopholes and make everyone pay the same percentage of their income earned and call it a day.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • KLARGAR

      Puma man needs to remove entire head from rear orifice and clean feces out of ears so punaman can hear better.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lord Toronaga

      There is no such thing as exploiting the tax code. It is there to encourage a particular activity or business action. Maybe democrats should read the tax code instead of watching GLEE. Maybe then they would understand taxes and how to become wealthy.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick Montalban

    We need those 47% to pay income taxes. We do that by bringing their income level up. We do that by creating better jobs. We create better jobs by providing incentives to invest in business. We create incentives through lower interest on business loans, tax credits for investors, tax credits for companies that are based in the U.S, and lower sales tax rates on U.S. goods and services. Higher wages for a larger portion of Americans leads to more tax revenue for the U.S. but also a portion of these wages are spent on goods produced in the U.S. Workers and businesses both benefit. The next president must make it economical to invest in the business, and to invest it the most valuable assets in the U.S. – the workers. Investors will not do that if they are taxed to death, or if its cheaper to ship production overseas. Investment, not regulation, ultimately drives this economy. Make it easier to invest and the ecomony will grow. Excessive regulation and taxation may prop up a faltering economy for the short term, but it will not grow or gain strength. I don't care who wins the election, if they do these things I will support them. My vote goes to the candidate whose policies can come the closest to doing this. They need to drop the bi-partisan posturing and get the U.S. economy fixed.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • bobntx

      We need higher taxes on the job creators and businesses and more expensive regulation...then you will see the economy come roaring back.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoNative

      All very well said, except that Romney off-shores the jobs AND off-shores his own personal money. Just how "American" is that? And just how is that type of business going to benefit the unemployed/underemployed in this country's crushed-by-the-Bush economy?

      September 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bobntx

    What was wrong with his remarks except possibly inaccurate numbers? Obama made promise after unfulfilled promise in the last election and again makes the same promises and the people believe. After, the last 4 years still half the people believe that Obama would do a better job on the economy than Romney....Control the media and you control the people...wake up people...

    September 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Karen

    Is Mexico a part of the United States?
    If Romney's father was born in Mexico as he said, then does that mean they are not American either and do we need to check to see if he was born here legally? Or will he need to self deport also?
    And could his family be associated with the drug cartels that are killing all the people?

    September 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CS

      All of the above. In a addition his family were polygamists so that is why they had to flee to Mexico.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • eyeRollz

      No, his family were American missionaries to Mexico. They were not born there.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cooper

    USA can not continue to borrow money to cover their expenses USA can not continue to print money that has no backing. We will be at the bottom of the cliff in no time.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. poorpeoplearejunkies

    I think at this point in the race, Mitt is just like "you know what would be funny? If I could insult everyone possible and still think theres a chance of victory!" Seriously. Attacking poor people, Muslims, what else can he dish out before election day?

    September 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ezra

    Rice is a typical middle class republican. Vote against his own ecomomic intereset for people who couldn't care less about him him because the GOP blow the gay-hate dog whistle. Unbeleivable.

    September 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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