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. founders1791

    "......I am for doing good to the poor, but...I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed...that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer......"

    — Benjamin Franklin November 29, 1766

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat)©

    A lot of people on here have the misconception that it is only democrats who are receiving government aid. That could not be farther from the truth. So in essence, he is also alienating a large swath of his republican voting group. Seems to me like he wouldn't want to group all these people together.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ncvette

      Great point! Yes republicans have also received aid when needed but Romney is counting on the republican base still voting for him because he keep talking about abortion and gay marriage. As a Catholic it bothers me more that so few are questioning his REAL religious beliefs. I have a neighbor that is Mormon so I knew a little bit but have taken the time to actually read more. Folks that just hear anti-abortion, anti-gay need to read and understand Mormonism before they jump into the deep end with Romney.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eatmore

    If Romney can't be "elegant" about US citizens, how dipolimatic would he be as POTUS? Afterall, he has already insulted Great Britian.

    He's like a used car salesman or a mail order preacher. Can't trust him.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polar Bear

      I think you've described all politicians. I trust my used car salesman (actually a really honest guy) more than any politician. But then again, we are the problem because we keep voting for politicians who tell us what we want to hear opposed to what really needs to be done. We deserve who we elect and we deserve the consequences.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      As if Obama was truthful. Give me a break. Problem is that Americans aren't ready to hear the truth. We are lied too because if a politician told the truth he would get blasted. We don't want to hear the truth. We have to cut back on social services, and military and get our budget back under control.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Polar Bear

    71% of CNN's readers said he was wrong. Gee, what a surprise! You can tell by CNN's Quick Vote polls that CNN readers skew way, way, way left. The brutal truth is that he's right. We are so used to politicians telling us what we want to hear we are "offended" when someone speaks plainly? No wonder we are in the mess we're in!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • froggyalley

      and Limbaugh and Hannity's listeners skew to the right. What's your point? We all have ONE vote. Someone will cancel yours out.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jacqui

    I was terribly offended by his remarks. I graduated from College with a degree in Science. I was laid off and had to receive unemployment benefits until I got another job. I am currently under-employed. I work everyday for eight hours for a wage that is just above minimum wage. I don't take food stamps. My husband pays for health-care and we pay a mortgage every month. How dare he say that I am not responsible.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polar Bear

      Oh, puullleeeze! "Terribly offended?!" The terribly offended in this country are the victims that he says they are. Part of the soft "don't judge me" crowd (yet they judge everyone else). He didn't say "you weren't responsible," he said the people who don't pay any federal income tax won't vote for him. And most of those people are "victims" sponging off the system. For this republic to work, everyone needs to pay income taxes, the poor, the rich, and everyone in between.

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

    the truth hurts, but in reality, the truth will set you free. That's the problem today, alot of us don't want to hear the truth, but I rather hear the truth than a fib

    September 19, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. founders1791

    "......Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work......"
    - Thomas Edison

    September 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rita

    Not a "gaffe" nor 'truth...

    September 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nm

    aww the truth hurts doesnt it all you pathetic victoms.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • froggyalley

      Yes, all you military retirees, disabled vets, over 65-pensioners and all you other useless types that were used up and cast aside once your usefulness ran out. Die, why don't you? Who needs death panels?

      September 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. On StreetWise

    Just one small question for Gov. Romney; How more taxes should a person living on Social Security pay, to keep you and your friends on or below your 13.9% tax bracket?
    Now, Romney and Ryan say that people who receive government assistance are in effect slackers.
    But both Romney and Ryan families received government assistance: George Romney gratefully took welfare for his young family, and Ryan received social security survivor’s benefits from ages 16-23 after his dad died.
    They got theirs, but according to them, those who get assistance now are slackers. Can anybody spell; HYPOCRITE!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • froggyalley

      We are irrelevant, according to them.

      Let's show them in November how "irrelevant". Do not forget to vote.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Elaine

    I think this is going to help Romney, not the other way around. Truth override untruths.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • barbraS

      But it was a misinformed "truth". Not all the info in that. AND his tone/disdain/not caring for that 47% was distressing and appalling. This candidate has made way too many gaffe's in his campaign to ever win. I am grateful for that.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jon Jon

    The welfare trashes are mad because the truth always hurts. These people don't want to work regardless of economic condition and they'll always vote for democrat. So screw them! Romney 2012!!!!!! :)

    September 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Jon Jon, over 80% of those who pay no taxes are senior citizens, combat troops, and students.

      Shame on you for thinking they are dead beats.

      In addition, it was President Reagan who said we should give low income workers extremely low tax rates because it gives them the incentive to work instead of be dead beats.

      Based on Romney's words, every person in America who attended a public school or sent their children to a public school is a dead beat.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don

    You want to the truth, but you can not afford it!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cindy

    Romney and his group do not pay the payroll tax. The little guy does and that amounts to abt 15%. Romney only pays capital gains tax of 13.9%. So who is the tax dodger?

    September 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. founders1791

    ROMNEY IS CORRECT. It requires cognitive disconnect to ignore that "reality"

    Simple Accounting 101 – there is no fairness at all in progressive taxation

    Top Wage Earners Pay
    001% \
    025% |- 96.03% of the Taxes
    050% /

    Bottom Wage Earners Pay
    051% \
    075% |- 3.7% of the Taxes
    100% /

    A tiny minority, The Rich, are SLAVES who carry the weight of "dependents" placed upon them by Democrat Plantation Masters in Washington and throughout State governments.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • GUss

      The alarming thing is that people like you don't see those numbers and realize that the wealth is pooled excessively at the top in a way we haven't seen since the days of the robber barons. I'm not for welfare cheats or laziness either–no working person is–but to act like a tiny percentage of poor people are ruining our country and somehow magically turning us into the next Greece (a country which has achieved little for the last couple THOUSAND years) is not only misinformed, it's willfully dishonest.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • founders1791

      Poor Guss,

      The alarming thing is that throughout history (that means before you were born) there was is and will be Rich and Poor who are "always" defined ..not by money.. but by personal drive, competence, and networking.

      The REALITY is the the average American in the 21st century is FABULOUSLY WEALTHY compared to anytime IN HISTORY and "because of that wealth" there is so much leisure time, sloth, and laziness that we have the greatest number of idle capable working adults "ever" that simply won't work because the survive for free ..on the govt dole!

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