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. tkindsm

    It is going to be funny when this "secret weapon" the liberals thought they had, that they strategically released 4 months after it was recorded, to deflect attention away from foreign affairs ends up getting Romney elected because people get more informed about the actual state of things in America!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Freedomfreak1

    Sometime the truth is a bitter pill to swallow.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      As usual, Fact Free! MItt's own Father is a freeloader apparently.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dave

    Karl Rove, who understands electoral demographics better than any other Republican, correctly noted that many of the people who pay no federal income tax are Republicans

    September 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      In fact, the states were the most people live who pay the least in taxes are Red States.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bonnie Hagihara

    I think its the brutal truth....and the people who can't see that are either in denial or brainwashed!! And I'm voting for Mitt Romney!!! We need someone as president who will speak the truth for a change, and who will try and help this country get out of its downward spiral....Go Mitt Romney!!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cyprustree

      Speak the truth??? That's not something Mittens is capable of. He ;is an elitist snob that if elected, will help out his rich buddies with more tax breaks and dump it on all on the Middle Class. You must be rich.

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

    This speech was definitely not a gaffe – this is precisely how Romney feels regarding 47% of Americans which includes our toops.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lord Toronaga

    When Mexicans are born in the USA we call them Americans and liberals say they have all the rights therein. Why can't Mittens be called a Mexican and have all the rights of a minority class anchor baby.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RightieTightie

    I agree that we need a more ballsy Chief in this sterilized world of ours...problem is the media would pick him apart( cough cough CNN) before he could even get to the main stage. Just look at how they reacted to the most honest candidate I've seen in awhile, Ron Paul. Although he was a little crazy, both sides completely ripped him to shreds before he could even finish his point. They wouldn't even announce the states who nominated him because his supporters were too vocal. What the he!! does this say about our political system?! Appease the majority (whether the poor, educated, rich, right, left, etc) or be fed to the dogs.

    The major problem here is this clear-cut divide between the right and left. Everyone on these boards seems to be experts on political action, yet we are all stagnated by our indecision and inability to come to ANY damm conclusion whatsoever!!! This is the bottom line folks, unless we agree on SOMETHING, NOTHING will get done! Just look at the innability of Congress (both sides again) to pass any positive legislation.

    I miss those post-9/11 days when EVERYONE was unified for patriotism and AMERICA. What happened to the "Proud to be an American" mentality we had not so long ago? Especially with all this uproar in the middle east, you'd think that the unity of our country would be the most important thing on most people's minds. People (R's and Libs), are more worried about some stupid percentage that was mentioned months ago rather than what WE, THE CITIZENS of THE US, can do to come together and fix the problems we face. Don't point fingers at anyone but ourselves. I agree with another poster on this board that this is the most divided we have been since the civil war. Not until we realize that WE ARE ALL IN THIS MESS TOGETHER, as demonstrated in the unity stemming from 9/11, will we be able to get back on our feet again.

    "Ask not what your country can do for you, but whether what YOU can do for YOUR COUNTRY" !!!!!!!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Abe Lincoln

    The man is right.
    He spoke the truth.
    People can't handle the truth.
    They didn't want to hear the Emancipation Proclamation either.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd E

      The truth is, your Emancipation Proclamation didn't free anyone. The "emancipation" only applied to the slaves in the states that were in rebellion. Those states did not recognize your authority, rendering your Emancipation Proclamation to be hollow rhetoric.
      As far as what Mitt said about the nearly half of Americans who pay no income taxes, that is SLANDER, not truth.

      September 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. PeteyB

    So it's the GAY TAX PAYER that will decide the election!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. justin

    If 95% Hispanic voted for demo, this would mean extreme BIAS. That would be a disaster for this nation. Anyone remember the OJ case?

    Again, Romney is correct on this. Hopefully, I don't think this would happen.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Obama2012

    I need more food stamps! Only Big O will deliver what I need! Obama 2012!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      I think you speak very well for the 47%. Thanks for clearly stating your priorities. Seldom seen today!

      September 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dorkus Maximus

    Brutal truth? That's like saying it's a "brutal truth" that 2 + 2 = 5. It's not a brutal truth because it doesn't add up. It's a simple case of mathematics. You can argue that Romney was pointing out that too many people fail to contribute to the operation of society, but "too many people" hardly equates to 47%. The math isn't there. It doesn't add up. And it certainly doesn't address the bigger issue of what is "fair" given the disparity between rich and poor and the relative value of the social infrastructure to each group.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tyler

    Well lest see. If its true then what is the matter with the statement. If 47% of all people voting for Obama are dependent on the government then that means the believe Obama is the right man for the job to help them and make their lives better. And that 47% believe that Romney is the wrong man for the Job!

    September 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeccibeans

      Obama is at 47% in the polls....

      September 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Randy

    CNNs headline on this is insulting, dishonest and blatantly 'pro-Romney.' There is no question about whether or not Romney's comment about the 47% was a Brutal Truth. It's not a matter of opinion but fact that he was talking about two different groups of 47%. One is the group that makes up Obama's voting base. The other is the group that doesn't currently pay income tax. Those are not the same 47%. The economic 47% has nothing to do with party affiliation and, in fact, there may be more Republicans than Democrats who don't pay income tax.

    CNN is way out of line playing these games. You're being dishonest with this and giving cover to one of the candidates in the race. I know a lot of confused people repeat the old canard about "Liberal Bias." But right here in front of our noses is a blatant case of pro-Republican bias. You are doing EXACTLY what the Romney campaign needs to try to put this behind them. Confusing people by intentionally mixing up issues.

    This is shameful.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeccibeans


      September 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Grant C

    Anyone who thinks that HALF THE COUNTRY are dependent on government to the point where they can never be convinced to take responsibility for their own lives is a "brutal truth" needs psychiatric help. That 47% Romney was referring to are, as he stated, people who don't have a federal income tax liability. As in...retired seniors... veterans... people working hard at minimum wage jobs... yeah tell me all about how they don;t take responsibility for their lives the big moochers!

    Romney needs to go crawl in a hole somewhere and stop talking at all. It'll likely improve his polling numbers if people just start to forget he exists.

    September 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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