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. mitt romney

    aw poor rich guy.. should have charged a few thousand dollars more so them poor liberals couldn't get into the fundraiser

    September 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eli

    Bottom line is the man is a divider not a uniter. His job IS to worry about the 100%. Romney's remarks illustrate he is not qualified for the POTUS job.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmt73

      And your man is a uniter? I think not. The truth may hurt some of your delicate socialist sensibilities, but its still the truth.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      jmt73 Enjoy both the crash and the burn of failure.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laurie

      WE are dividing the u.s. not this man or that man,some of us belive life trumps money,and we are trying to fight for that,while others think money is everything,and it's everyone for themselves live or die they dont care.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tkinil

      Wow, and really do you believe what just came off your pen not divisive? The one in office now is responsible for the worst divisiveness this country is experiencing in history. Just look at all the crap coming out of the mouths of his's all about them and anyone that has a different perspective gets automatically called a bunch of names. What are you in kindergarten? Stop pointing fingers and crying foul hypocrite.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jmt73

    Brutal truth!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reggie from LA

      The only reason there's divisiveness is because of the bassackward numbskulls who decided to work against him from day ONE and who've learned to cleverly use dog whistle language that queue up widespread megaphones who aren't very smart really. Is that J "M"egaphone"t73?

      September 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sandiegobeachbum

    Anyone with an IQ over 50 knows that people who are on welfare, work for unions, use food stamps, need some assistance paying rent/mortgage are going to vote for Democrats. Romney is right to a large degree. I don't know about 47% but the Democratic Party definitely has more built in voters, by far, because so many people are more dependent on the government. I agree that some of these people would like to work but ,let's face it, many Americans would much prefer for us to become a socialist country with health care cradle to grave, government checks every month and they don't want to be bothered with going to work every day or paying a dime in taxes. I don't know what % that is but is is larger than one might imagine. It does seem to me that Obama wants big government to take care of people and and he is therefore creating a huge voter base going forward because so many of us will be more and more dependent on the government. I don't think this is the direction for our country that our Founding Fathers had in mind but it is clearly happening. I do find it sad that our country is, by far, the most divided it has ever been in my opinion. Neither side has any tolerance for the other. Repubs think Dems are all wrong and vice versa. We are going down a path that is very dangerous going forward. I don't see anyone out there who has the answers for our mounting debt, unemployment, high prices for everything etc.. We need a STRONG Leader and I don't see him in Obama or Romney. It is pitiful our of 310MM people we don't have better leaders. All we have are a bunch of self-serving blowhards who are as phony as a three dollar bill. BTW, the media in our country should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. They do a big disservice to all of us. I am sick and tired of the stinking media trying to always give us their stupid views and opinions instead of being objective and fair. I am ready for a third party and am very unimpressed with all the recent Presidential candidates ie, Bush, Gore, Kerry, Obama, Romney, McCain etc..

    September 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reggie from LA

      Not really very bright. Surf's up! Keep with the sun and sand. Society and politics are not lost without ya.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wreckfan

    Are you hacks at CNN planning on giving any air to the "redistribution" audio from the President. Hell, I'm not asking for equal time...I'll settle for ANY time. I'm an undecided voter with a journalism degree and I think your blatant bias is pathetic. CNN was one of the last bastions of legitimate journalism several years back, but it's seems as though you've gotten into the business of parsing or creating news. Why not try reporting it?

    September 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • MeganKI

      I have a journalism degree too and i could have written your post. Well said.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Schadenfreudean Psychologist

      Why write history when you could be making it?

      September 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bombastus

    Romney will get his 45% or so of the vote no matter what. Many voters will never vote for a democrat and the far right has this burning hatred of Obama. As always it's the in-betweeners that decide elections and yes, this latest revelation (not a gaff) will help Romney lose the election. This is gross insensitivity and a distortion or lack of knowledge of the facts. His too quick press conference after Libya/Egypt also showed very bad judgement. Put these two together with the empty chair lack of energy convention and it's like he wants to lose this thing. We can't turn the keys over to this guy.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustie

      Respectfully, lack of sensitivity??? Obama headed off immediate to campaign in Las Vegas!!! Not only is Obama guilty of insensitivity, he is at fault for not providing protection for the Americans at Benghazi. He has lied, lied and lied about the situation. He lied that a private security company was hired and that he and Clinton made them sign a contract stating that they would not use weapons or bullets. He lied when he said there were no warnings. Anyone might have a sense of trepidation that there would be retaliation for bin Laden's assassination... Romney, as a candidate, had an OBLIGATION to speak out. The media continues to cover for Obama's failures.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • LacrosseMom(real one)

      Correct. The 45% will vote for Mitt, because.......they hate Obama! Even Limbaugh said he would vote for Elmer Fudd and against Obama!

      Hate is going to backfire.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. One one

    I was raised in a lower middle class family. I got a education, a good job, worked hard, raised a family, and have been paying A LOT of taxes for many years.

    Obama saying I am not paying my fair share is an insult to me.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Minnie n iBeauty

      And you don't find it insulting that Romney thinks you are a freeloader and don't pay Govt taxes because the 50 hours that you work in a week only fetches you a few thousand dollars a year versus the millions a venture capitalist earns by tearing down companies and shipping off jobs? That your Uncle who slogged over the mill machines all his life looks forward to his social security check because his bones are old and he can't see that well any more to keep working over that welding machine? Or that your neighbor's family has a child who has a defective heart and they look to a healthcare so that they can continue to support their other children instead of going bankrupt (and becoming, gasp! a freeloader)......


      September 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • LacrosseMom(real one)

      "Obama's saying you are not paying your fair share"? My story is the same as yours, and we pay our share of taxes! Mitt Romney pays less than we do, that's not fair. Look up some history, back to the 40's-60's when all Americans paid their fair share, and you will see that our Nation had 50 years of prosperity.

      We all should pay our fair share, we all need to give back and help those in need. Romney and the GOP do not care about the most vulnerable.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustie

      Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction toward socialism. He is a danger to America and the world with his flawed foreign policy.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JC

    The problem is, Romney was right. He has no idea what to do about it, or how to fix it, but he does recognize the gridlock of the situation. He was not PC, but frankly, America better get over its PC fixation in a hurry. We live in an era of blame game. Obama blames the Republicans for the financial crisis. The Republicans blame the Democrats for passing legislation to be paid for by Monopoly money. Democrats blame Republicans for the shrinking middle class, and Republicans blame the Democrats for huge increases in the cost of social programs. I would suspect that upwards of 75% blame the government for screwing everything up, and that in itself is a problem. When you go to someone and say "Stop blaming everyone else, and work for change" they become offended: they are sure they aren't part of the problem. They lie. How do we know?
    Let's take a look at car insurance for a second. According to a recent Allstate survey, 66% of people consider themselves to be better drivers than other people, and they cling to that claim despite the number of accidents, the self-admitted speeding, the aggressive driving tendencies, and the fact that most people have ignored the dangers of texting while driving. The numbers do not support their claims, nor do the numbers support the claims of the average voter.
    The sad fact of the matter is that most voters come to an election already decided. The average Democrat and Republican will vote for anything in the correct animal jersey, and there is literally nothing their opponent will ever be able to do to change their minds. We adhere to our political parties in exactly the same manner that we adhere to our religions, and we cast the other party in the role of Satan, we blame them for everything wrong with our government and our personal situation. We have a nasty tendency to vote for a political party simply because mom and dad did. We are blind to their failures, but quick enough to point the finger at the other side, when they error.
    We all of us seem to easily forget one important fact: we live in a republic, we are the government. If we don't like it, then why do we continue to vote for the status quo? If neither major political party has the answers, or is interested in our opinions, don't we owe it to ourselves and our children to look somewhere else? Why don't we? Why aren't more of us independent? In an age of extremes, in no-compromise politics, why aren't we encouraging change by sending moderates to represent us? Aren't we all Americans? Aren't we?
    So who is to blame? No one is to blame. All are to blame. Next time you're busy pointing a finger, and railing against a candidate simply because he is of an opposing party, you would do well to remember that four of the fingers are curled around pointing back at you.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • tkinil

      Very nicely said. It's a shame most people won't bother to reflect on it.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. yneemee

    The demokrats must stay on the plantation and shop at the company store... it's all they know !!!

    September 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. One one

    A democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2tor

      A republic is 2 lambs voting on what to do with the wolves.

      September 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 2tor

    3 days of this and not one word on Obama's tape on your site? This you call a "news" organization?

    September 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ahmed

    romney is telling the true

    September 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. founders1791

    Obama = Undistinguished career at the Illinois Senate – nothing done, he ran unopposed!
    Obama = Undistinguished career at the US Senate – he QUIT after 1/3 of his term, he ran unopposed!
    Obama = Worst President in US History: 1st AAA Downgrade TWICE, 5 Trillion in Deficit spending, highest unemployemnt

    Mitt Romney = 25 YEARS of CREATING WEALTH FOR THOUSANDS of people and himself.
    Mitt Romney = Saved the Olympics how? Learn! He reduced costs, increased fees, ...and turned a PROFIT!
    Mitt Romney = Governed a State with great affect the bluest of blue Liberal States.

    ............CLEARLY, Romney is a Professional and Obama is an Amateur

    September 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LacrosseMom(real one)

      Mitt, professional? He has foot-in-mouth disease! He has insulted America!

      OBAMA 2012

      PS. Romney=Loser

      September 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Schadenfreudean Psychologist

      Worst president in history? How could you have forgotten G. W. Bush so soon?

      September 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • founders1791

      NO ONE in their right mind would hand Hussein Obama their LIFE SAVINGS INVESTMENTS to manage for their retirement.

      THOUSANDS have given Mitt Romney their TRUST to SAFELY earn a decent return on their money.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fred

    Truth, yes it may sting for a while but it's not the continuous lies from Obama and his media cohorts.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Mistake? No..... he was telling America what he really thinks of us! Mitt basically insulted ALL of Obama's supporters by calling us moochers, freeloaders, etc.!

    My husband and I are registered, Independents, upper middle class, college educated, Latinos, business owners.... we have never...ever.....taken a cent from the government!

    We are voting FOR Pres. Obama! Romney has already LOST!

    September 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mogran

      Obama supporters are perceived as lazy and on the government dole due to comments they make that leads people to that conclusion. Obama's platform is aimed squarely at that mentality level cause he thinks they will vote for him...they did the last time. I will vote for Romney...he thinks like I do.

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