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. J

    Of course its the "Truth". That might be the first true thing a politician has ever said. Finally a politician who came out and said he doesnt care about people who cant help him. Thats what he was saying.

    But its not just Romney. When has the Republican Party or Democratic Party ever cared for the % of American citizens who do not fill the political coffers. When are Americans going to wake the hell up and realize all these "Political Rally's" that show the candidates with their sleeves rolled up and jackets off and standing in front of a wall of minimum wage factory workers is Propaganda. Its PR to win votes. Politicians in general, both Republican and Democrat dont care about those factory workers. Who is really that naive? Do you really think Mitt Romney or Barack Obama care about the average American?

    They only care about getting money for reelection. If they cared, then we wouldn't have decades and decades of nonstop votes in the Senate and Congress that always, amazingly end up split between the 2 parties. Republicans vote YES, then the Democrats all vote NO and vice versa. Please explain how this has ever been beneficial to the welfare of our nation and its citizens. We dont have a government "Of the People". We have a government that just cancels itself out. Then every 4 years we are forced to endure another election and the American people get to vote in just another set of people who all play in this giant Wagnerian opera, trying to make us think they care and they dont. They pull out the flags and apple pie and bible verses, and all smile. Then when elected, my life never really changes. Its certainly doesn't get better because of someone I voted for. When even the basic, first steps to solving a national problem is undertaken its completely destroyed by infighting from our politicians. Maybe Obamacare had its problems and concerns about how to pay for it and what would happen to Insurance and hospitals. But we could of worked on it. Instead it was a nonstop 4 year opera with the politicians all trying to get face time on what they thought. Without once, not once did a Republican have the balls to stand up and say.."Its not perfect, but its a start and its something we should work on as leaders of the United States. Its something that the American people need". Instead nothing got accomplished and its so messed up now no one knows whats true or not.

    This entire election, I have not heard one thing about why were ranked in the bottom of the Western world in education, why we have children in 2012, living in the United States who are so poor they are starving. Children who are suffering from Asthma because they dont have money to buy a $20 Inhaler.

    I think if more Americans admitted how ashamed they are of their government and its politicians, then maybe we could start fixing our problems instead of fighting between ourselves.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I have wondered the same thing the republicans know that there are people out here dying because of no healthcare and yet none of them cared enough about this country or is people to say o.k. Let's work together.I think we rank 37th in healthcare,so America is not the greatest country on earth.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • b ham

      You have my vote!

      September 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • beardediris

      Are you running in Ohio? I'll vote for you.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elisabeth

    Obamo = Sharia law in the U.S.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Think About it Very Carefully!

    OK, folks - Obama has "charm," Romney has not so much "charm," but he has proven success as a business man. Which do YOU need at this time? What do you want in your life for yourself and your family? In that voting booth, do you REALLY want to vote for "charm" or will you vote for someone who will help create a solid future for you and your family? It's YOUR choice, and THIS is the defining election - there may not be an other chance.!

    September 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Vulture capitalism made legal is not a businessman, just a vulture.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Elisabeth

    The democrats are full of intolerance. That is wHu they support HUSSIEN OBAMA.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J

    Survival of the fittest?

    Master race?

    Romney is both stupid and frightening (in his self-centered delusion) at the same time.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AcesFull

    Top 1% pay 40% of federal income taxes
    Top 10% pay 75% of federal income taxes
    Bottom 47% pay 0% of federal income taxes
    80% of people who do pay taxes have an “effective” tax rate below 15%
    Top 7% pay 68% of all money donated to charities
    The idea that the rich are not paying their “fair share” is ridiculous, it is a thinly veiled attempt to elicit an emotional response by blaming someone else, the "rich" (this time). Obama is foolishly disingenuous with this line he is taking, it's all about his re-election bid, but sadly for him (and the country) he can't run on his record.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • uh oh....

      more "facts" just like the 47 oercent "facts" that Mittens is working are a joke.

      September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Elisabeth

    If you like Osama and you think he's seksy come on baby vote for Barak If you think he's secksy and you know he is a Muslim come on baby vote for Barak. Huuusereein Osaaaama let's all vote for Barak.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jimmy

    I wouln't vote for either one . Romney is a warmonger . I am voting for Johnson

    September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mommy-and-Daddies-Money-Made-Me-a-SelfMade-Man

    Sure, it's fair to say Americans at all levels of income, from rich to poor, were hit hard in the decade that started with the dot-com boom and bust, and ended with the Great Recession.
    But according to the census data, those losses disproportionately hit the lowest 60% of Americans, while the richest 40% actually gained wealth, relative to the entire U.S. economy.
    Much of that trend can be explained by massive losses in the housing sector, the period of high unemployment that ensued, and rising prices that flew in the face of the American family's heightened financial struggles.

    September 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • RepublicanMeansJobs

      So don't you think the 60 percent deserve jobs? They won't get that from a Socialist-leaning government. Or have you forgotten Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and the difference between the late 1970s and the 1980s? True, there was a painful recession in the early 80s, but that was the price we paid to undo the 70s. The seemingly wild prosperity of the 1990s was really people borrowing money and to buy lifestyles they could not afford. Guess what happened when the bill came due?

      Spend like crazy big government did not work for Spain, Italy, Greece or the Soviet Union. It also won't work for the US.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CypressSteve

      No one that really knows Romney would ever claim he didn't work his tail off in school and at work to make a good life for himself and his family. This class-envy attempt to denigrate another's success tends to discredit your otherwise good points.

      As long as we continue to kick the can down the road and avoid serious discussion and hard choices, we will continue to suffer from booms and busts. It will always be the poor and middle class, even the retirees, that will suffer the most because they never see it coming. Let's change things, though. Let's give someone else a chance to fix this mess. That's what Romney does. He fixes broken things (from a finance and economics point of view, anyway).

      For the truth to win out, we will all need to be honest with ourselves first. Can any of you, with a straight face, say that you expect things to change under a re-elected President Obama when he has categorically stated he will continue to do what he has been doing? That seems to simply be madness to me. He tried. It didn't work. And worse is coming. We have not hit the inflation bubble yet and, no matter who is elected, it will hit. And who will lose the most? People who tend to own the fewest assets: The poor and middle class. When this happens, I prefer to have a guy like Romney at the helm with a clear understanding of how to right the economic ship than someone who has already tried and failed.

      If what I've said hurts anyone's feelings, I apologize in advance, but it is the truth. As arrogant as it may sound, you will want to remember this post. It will resonate loudly in a few short years.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Elisabeth

    If you are opposed to what Osama did please do not vote for Obama. Barak HUSSIEN Osama.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      Learn to spell.

      And, don't worry: the idiots in the country will vote for Romney.

      The rest of us will vote for Obama.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      You know how uneducated this makes you look right.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Obama ordered the strike to kill Osama. How is voting for Obama a vote to support the terrorist mastermind that was killed during Obama's term?

      September 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • bibleverse1

      I see you capitalized HUSSIEN . Is it because his name is not John, James, or William. If you are threatened by the man's name I feel you do not have a good understanding of America and her people. He was named after his father as many boys are and have always been. An intelligent person would talk about the policies you do not agree with or something to do with his position as President. Dont judge a man by superficial things but his character. By the way HUSSIEN is arabic for handsome. Dont forget to vote. No matter who you vote for make sure you vote.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • BootDr

      We should also remember that President Cheney opps I mean Bush had our troops back off on Osama when we had him cornered in Bora Bora because it gave them more time to set up the profit grab of Halliburtons Iraq War and made sure Cheney earned his $20,000,000 trust Halliburton had set aside for him when he was picked to run for the VP position.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • RepublicanMeansJobs

      So the economy is bad because the President's middle name is Hussein? With logic like that, you should consider opening a pretzel factory. I am no Obama fan, but criticizing him because of his name is childish at best.

      September 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Marty

    Numbers were verified by the Associated Press. 100%true!

    September 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AcesFull

    Bill Ayers, Frank Marshall Davis, Van Jones, Jeremiah Wright, Francis Fox Piven, Bernadine Dorn, Andy Stern, Derrick Bell, Jim Wallace, member of socialist New Party, International apology tour, 2,000 page health care bill that took a year to pass only after bribing his own party members, redistribution of wealth, social justice, Black Panthers, collective salvation, Black Liberation Theology, Critical Race Theory, Eric Holder, blame Bush and Republicans for everything, divisive class warfare rhetoric while he becomes a multi-millionaire in office and takes more campaign cash from Wall Street than anyone else, extensive Union cronyism, 9% unemployment, credit downgrade, Jon Corzine as his top financial advisor, White House security leaks, Solyndra, Siga Technologies and the Fast & Furious cover up – the “put the Community Organizer in charge to see what will happen” experiment is done.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BootDr

    Cambride Ray you a hole I am white over 50 raised in a Republican family going back to the days of Abraham Lincoln and am a very diehard Independent and at this point NO one that the GOP has now or in the future could even buy my vote at any price because they are all about SHOW ME THE MONEY for my pocket and screw everyone else.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • nnnnis

      Grammar? Your lack of education does not make a very strong case for yourself and for those who will be voting for Mitt Romney and tearing the country apart.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      Well you don't sound like and independent. Being an independent would imply you would consider voting for a Republican if they were the right candidate, which you just said you would not vote for any Republican, which makes you a Democrat, or someone who just won't vote, neither of which qualify as being an "Independent."

      September 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. independent thinker

    I find it funny how Republicans keep focusing on the small percentage of wellfare recipients to defend Romney's comments. Wellfare recipients are a very small percentage of the 47% he was talking about. Not only that, you all keep saying that they should get off their buts and get a job. Have you not been paying attention? There aren't any jobs for them to get, and not only that, most of the wellfare receipients are not educated, have children, and it would cost them more for transportation, childcare, working attire, etc., than they would get making miminum wage.... and before you say they should get educated, how do you suppose the poor pay for the outageous cost of college these days without.... wait for it..... government assistance!
    Wellfare is not the problem, Greed is the problem. Medical costs in the $billions when it could be a lot less if people were just educated on what they are eating – what our government is subsidizing that is costing us dearly is corporate wellfare. Also the wealthiest should pay at least the same percent of taxes as the middle class, but they don't, or if they want tax breaks, they should earn them, by creating jobs, rather than sitting on their money.
    I'm an independent voter, but Romney's comments and then further his attempts to try to defend his comments has caused him to lose my vote. I'm not crazy about Obama either, but I'd rather not vote at all than vote for Romney now.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanityisrare

      Take a few minutes (or hours) and with an open mind study why the Corporations are "sitting" on their money. It's not rocket science. If you had your familiy's life savings riding on the best investor between Romney and Obama (and could only choose one) who would you choose to let handle that for you knowing that your family's financial future is at stake? Romney= Staple; Sports Authority, etc. Obama =Solyndra. Greed is rampant these days but money isn't always the root and besides someone else's "greed" isn't going to define what I can make of myself...their wealth does not cause my lack of wealth. The are many reasons people remain poor...but my becoming rich is not one of them. As far as helping the the charitable giving stats of the left versus the right....don't think you want to even go about greed (Greed is not confined to millionaires). The left loves spending "someone" else's money...

      September 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RepublicanMeansJobs

    Poor does not mean lazy, but lazy means poor. Unless, of course, the lazy are ripping you and me off.

    When I was a dirt poor student working my way through college, there were plenty of non-student welfare bums living in the neighborhood. They would often try to use WIC (Women Infant Children) food stamps at the supermarket to buy junk food, soda and beer. When the cashier tried to tell them they could not buy those things with the WIC stamps, it was "no comprende" and "no ingles" time. Finally the exasperated cashier would usually give up. What they hey?!? And to make it far worse, with every paycheck I saw the very substantial tax deductions that were taken out to pay for their junk food and booze. Those are the 47 percent Romney was talking about, not the hard working (or willing to be hard working) folks.

    The lazy, scam-the-people, sponge-off-the-government individuals will vote Democratic because they want a handout. Those who are willing to work hard will vote for Romney because they want a job.

    September 19, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Where are those jobs from the wealthy that got tax breaks. 23% of that 47% are seniors. Romney and Ryans plans for the middle class involve taxing them, taking away mortgage deductions, and giving the wealthy cuts on capital gains. Who started the class warfare? Republicans did. They have made every effort to make us pay for their banking play.

      September 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • RepublicanMeansJobs

      Obama Mama, notions of class warfare are an illusion, one created by those want to use the ensuing chaos for their own ends. The wealthy are the ones who invest their vast sums in business ventures and buy capital equipment. Those businesses create jobs for those willing to work, and also generates additional tax revenue. Private industry is much better at creating jobs and wealth than the government. Companies have a financial incentive to be efficient, government does not. Sure, regulations to guard against fraud and deceit are necessary, but only the minumum required to acheive those goals. Additional regulation only creates inefficiency and waste.

      One necessary regulation was the Glass-Steagall Act, passed during the Great Depression. Take a look at the Congressional record on the vote to repeal this law in the late 1990s. Eighty-three percent of Democrats and Republicans *combined* voted to repeal Glass-Steagall, resulting in the current economic downturn. Blaming only Republicans for the banking crisis just isn't realistic. Besides, the Democrats are every bit as good at protecting their wealthy donors as the Republicans. If the Democrats are for fair and equal taxation for everyone, why do they consistently oppose a flat tax?

      September 19, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • beardediris

      If 47% of the country were as lazy as you said, we'd be in worse debt than we are. 47% of the country aren't lazy and on welfare. 47% don't pay taxes because they don't owe them, under the same code that allows Mitt Romney to pay the lowest rate he owes on the money he admits he has.

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