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. Slappy_McGiggles

    Romney spoke the truth and the 47% can't handle the truth!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • NotFooledByDistractions

      Hey slappy, go ahead and tell grandma that you think she's a slacker – or even better, go tell active duty service members who are putting their lives on the line for schmoes like you – those folks are part of the 47% romney is referencing.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Rabid

      Right you are my chuckling giggling friend...it's hard for me to giggle on this one, but it is so true! My vote for Romney just improved. I am now even more for Romney!

      September 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NotFooledByDistractions

    Willard has proven himself to be exactly what I assumed he was – a sneering plutocrat with no concept whatsoever of the lives of working class Americans.

    Does he realize that the 47% he insulted consists of students, people with disabilities or illnesses, the long-term unemployed, and other people with very low taxable incomes. Also included would be people like our soldiers in foreign wars who are exempted from paying income taxes while they are on active duty in a war zone. It also includes people aged 65 or older who have modest incomes (and do not have earnings).

    Romney is either a very stupid man who doesn't truly understand the talking point he's spewing...or he's just a very stupid man.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Roger Rabid

      You make a good point on the soldiers, the rest, not so much...infact not at all. Those soldiers who probably make up less than 2% of the 47% would actually vote for Romney, and they know who has their backs and who is going to pull the money back next year if he gets re-elected (Obama). So, you are right there might be a slight error, but only a slight one. The truth sure hurts so many people. Maybe they would not be on the government take too if jobs were available. Do you really think that Obama will be the ultimate Job creator when all he has done is lost jobs and propped up more with borrowed money that will cost even more later? Really do you? What a far out notion. So far out that bats flop around on that lunar soil with no air to breath. No wonder they can't think straight! If you want jobs to come back to America, Obama is not the one to bring them, and despite what you think about Bain and outsourcing and what Romney will do, you have got to believe he will do better than Obummer. Come on! Romney in 2012!!!

      September 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Siestasis

      So Rabid Rodger, you are willing to give the military a pass. What about the disabled vet, what about the seniors on ss, what about the working poor who make too little to pay income taxes but pay state tax, sales tax, gasoline tax etc. Let's face it neither you nor Romney know what you are talking about. OK for you, you are only one vote but not OK for someone who wants to be President.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. justin

    The demos are desperate. Sending spy to secretly record private conversation. Is this criminal? What is this different from Water Gate?
    The media is double standard here.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      Wrong. A person did this on their own. Parts of the audio was put on YouTube.

      Someone found it and gave it to a magazine.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Orval

    Only 8% of Americans are on welfare. Romney was implying that 47% were on welfare. Not so George. The USA has the lowest social expenditures for its people than any Western country in the world. Romney's statement reflects his non-Christian religion that promotes "you're either with us or against us" philosophy. His religion shuns those who retreat from the church and that includes family members.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick

      Wrong, he said 47% is on some sort of means tested government assistance.

      That, my freind, is a fact....

      September 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J

    Truth hurts, isn't it? I'm glad Romney said it.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Siestasis

      Well J nice to know you have no respect or empathy for those vets that fought to save your sorry butt and left limbs overseas and are on disability. Nice to know you hate your grandparents and want to deny them their social security, nice to know you think the lady that mops your office floor and does not make enough to pay federal taxes but pays sales tax, gasoline tax and a number of other taxes is a lazy bum living off the govt. People who do not know what they are talking about should shut up and that goes for that sorry candidate the GOP picked for their Presidential candidate

      September 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Oh CNN( crap not newsworthy) Romney was 100% correct! But now where is the Obama redistribution comment! That's pretty important! The president wants to change what the founding fathers created! The founding fathers created a free country and a socialist country!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Siestasis

      See response to J. boy what a bunch of dummies on this site.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. NCP

    What a bunch of hooey about nothing. He was just saying that those who get a bunch of stuff from government will tend to want o keep getting stuff from the government. He also said later that a legit safety net is important because we are a compassionate people. But those who are on unemployment, welfare and food stamps will be far better off with a job created by Pres. Romney's economy than to continue on assistance as needed in an Obama economy.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joe

    Romney believes in the American dream- that if you work hard, sacrifice, save your money and get ahead you are rewarded. Obama is destroying the American dream- that if you work hard, save your money and get ahead you should pay for everyone else! 

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

      Or if you are born into a rich family it is easy street.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David

    This should not be an issue. Everyone knows that 47% don't pay income tax. I look at what Obama pushed when he had a Super Majority in the Senate and House. Stimulus and Health Care. Neither have resolved our economy. We are not close to recovery. Healthcare was pushed more than jobs. That is where I feel the Democrats failed. After Bush and Obama I will never vote to allow one party control of the House, Senate, and President. Whenever one party controls all 3 they move this country too far to the left or right.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. otto kittel

    The plain truth is the American people can not accept the TRUTH Wake up Americans!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mk54

    Republicans I know are nice people, why are the online ones so nasty?

    September 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Mr_Lebowski

    Of course it is the truth. NOw in any case when you make a general statement like that of course you can find some examples where they dont exactly apply but in general terms yes I believe it is true. The liberal media is doing a full court press on Romney over this but the poll numbers havent changed a bit. Another failure for the pfailure campaign.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. EnergyBeing

    I think MITT HIT THE FAN and it's a HOT MESS for his campaign. Now we just need those tax returns to surface to wipe him out for good. Buh Bye Mittens

    September 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Xman

      “if the Hispanic voting block becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American vote has in the past we’re in trouble as a party and I think as a nation”

      And you're still going to find people supporting this piece of trash from the GOP. I find it amazing that such garbage could come out of the mouth of ANYONE running for President.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Texan

      Mitt told the TRUTH...a rare commodity these days and the people know he is correct. By the way when is Obama going to release his records that he spent millions sealing and hiding? All we know about him was what he said in two books that are pure FICTION!

      September 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xman

      Ancient Texan, you are blind, deluded, and probably an enormous bigot. This country needs feeble minded imbeciles like you like we need holes in our head.

      You cannot possibly defend Romney's incredibly stupid comments, any of them, and expect to get away with it. Only a fool like you will continue to support the most worthless trash the GOP has to offer. Grats, you old tool.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • arturotorres

      Reminds me of boxing for the rest of the Republican ticket will be saying forget about the main event look at the lessor bouts.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sawrab

      Hello Folks, I feel We all know, Payroll Tax collection are wrong and illegal, for state taxing corporate profits are legal and taking wage earners wages is illegal..
      taxes are supposed to be voluantry ..

      September 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Obama is promoting an ever expanding dependency class, the more on foodstamps, unemployment, and disability, the more votes he expects to receive in his re-election bid. Romney is right and should not expect a huge share of the votes from the 47%.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • justin

      Agreed/

      September 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Name*giff holmes

    Someone not In touch with people is obama.we live in a country dedicated to turning that 47% into 100%.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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