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. DRE

    Like it or not Romney's words are what he believes. These were not words written by a speech writer, but his own words coming from his beliefs and his heart. Christ said not to worry about what goes into your mouth but what comes out of it. Romney through his words cares nothing for 47% of the American people and is only looking to get into office to profit and benefit the wealthy in this country at our expense. Is that what you really want?

    A vote for Romney is the same as saying you want your taxes to be raised close to or more than $2K a year. After all that's his plan and it's a bit short on details so in reality the tax hike could even be more. His answer to our economic problems is to raise the taxes on everyone that is making less than $350K a year, and then at the same time he's going to give the wealthy (making more than $350K a year) a tax break – at the American taxpayer's expense. I guess when you listen to the GOP and the party of “No New Taxes” it only applies to the wealthy members of the party. Everyone else is used for their votes and then discarded out in the cold.

    Think about it...

    September 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • The AF Chief

      Stop drinking the Obama KoolAide. Think for yurself and you will be much better off.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The AF Chief

    Don’t penalize Romney for telling the truth. He’s right in saying the government is creating an atmosphere of dependency. The more we depend on the government, the easier it is for government to control us. We cannot survive another 4 years of an Obama presidency.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • lynn

      Well chief when you retire if not already, you can turn your " TAX FREE" benefits over to us 47% and let Mitt mail you a check every month while you sit back in your recliner sipping on some OBAMA KOOLAIDE.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary1972

    Hi Pay attention to what's important: You can try to make his speech pretty but what I heard was "Obama's supporters are victims because they live govt handout." period. Now, try to dice it.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Successful47%

    I think the bigots in America try to use the issues of the Obama Administration as a way to cover up the way they really feel! Truth be told they never wanted him in the white house any way! If you were fully backing the President in 2008, you would still support him in 2012! All this talk about government handouts make me SICK,Hell we are all one paycheck from needing handout! Change doesn't happen overnight! #Forward 2012

    September 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. AcesFull Mike

    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 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @ Ace- since you keep printing all this stuff over and over. I will address a few at a time, Fast and Furious, started in 2006 as Operation Wide reciever under Bush. Solyndra is a Bush start up energy and republican backed company, start to look up your facts to make sense of your hate, you may be pointing at your own party.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • AcesFull Mike

      Operation Wide Receiver was a completely different operation that Fast and Furious. The Bush admin. canned Solyndra because it was too risky. Nice try though.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • AcesFull Mike

      Operation Wide Receiver was a completely different operation than Fast and Furious. The Bush admin. canned Solyndra because it was too risky. Nice try though.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elijah Pascal

      Obama Mama – stop the blame game. Grown ups don't make excuses like that. Bill Clinton during his term embraced the China US open trade agreement and China's membership to WTO, also introduced subprime loans. I don't have to detail the consequences. You know that. But you don't put a blame on him, do you?

      September 19, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      No he did not can it they the committee put it thru and Bush tried to get the credit for it before he left office. look it up. The committee Bush put together and got donations from Walmart Billionaires. Think

      September 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Successful47%

    I think the bigots in America try to use the issues of the Obama Administration as a way to cover up the way they really feel! Truth be told they never wanted him in the white house any way! If you were fully backing the President in 2008, you would still support him in 2012! Change doesn't happen overnight! #Forward 2012

    September 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elijah Pascal

      You are right. I doesn't happen overnight. 4 years is way too long to make things happen.
      Yes, I believed Obama's rhetorics on hope and change. Look at where we are at now.
      Time for a new leader.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      “If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you’re not a racist, you’ll have to vote for someone else in 2012 to prove you’re not an idiot.”

      September 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @Elijah- Hope and change he ran on, till he found out in August in 2008 that Bush had brought us to our knees. Too bad you don't blame congress for not passing a jobs bill on the desk of Boehner from Obama since Sept. 2011. Tea party is an embarassment to the republicans and he will not bring it up till he sees who get's in office. Building infrastructure and investing in the education of the people are what saves us, not the wealthy few. What jobs have the tax cuts for the wealthy created? NONE. I hope Obama taxes their outsourcing bums till they cannot afford Gucci anymore.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elijah Pascal

      Freedom? You are obviously a blind follower. All you see is inferiority on other people on the other aisle.
      Either a racist or an idiot? Pretty strong statement and uncaring. That makes you a dumb fool.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • pattianne

      I think someone said that we need to support Obama because change doesn't occur overnight. . The Dems had control of Congress from 2006-2010. In 2008 along came Obama. Therefore, the timeline is really more than 4 years when you add the last two years that have been wasted by all our government officials. That is almost one fourth of a person's working career, if they retire after 25 years. That should be enough time to do something. As a teacher, the government tells me I am responsible for all my children being at least on grade level even if they came to me reading on a 1st grade level and are now in 6th grade. I am considered a failure if my children haven't made a lot of progress. I have 9 month to work that miracle. The Dems should have been able to do something in 6 years.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      They had a republican president, in 2008-2010 they created 4.4 million jobs and passed over 100 bills including the PPACA, Lilly Ledbeder act and others, while they had a democrat president, senate and house. We still have to pay for wars, tax cuts and other programs Bush did not have on the books or have money to pay for.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • lynn

      Elijah; Soldiers were in Iraq what 10 years yes way to long; didn't take Obama four years to pull the American soldiers out; Where are we now? In debt mostly caused by ongoing wars Oh that was in progress when Obama took office; Even if Mitt does win, which I doubt, do you honestly think it' s gonna be any better in the next four years? Besides he's not worried about half "THOSE PEOPLE" in this country anyway and you're probaly one of them.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Obama Mama

    Romney was speaking of the 25% on medicaid, 16% on SS, 15% on medicare, 16% on food stamps. Most of the the The majority of the 47% are elderly., military and working class parents.
    6 of the 400 highest paid earning families paid no federal income taxes in 2009.
    Of the 47% most pay sales taxes, payroll taxes. state, local, and exercise taxes.
    Another class warfare tactic of the republicans and blaming the middle class.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. PhilTheThrill

    Yeah, just keep talking trash rich people and see what happens.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lieve

    Romney may pay a higher amount of taxes than many of us, but he has a lot a greater percentage of income than most of us. His remark regarding the 47% demonstrates that he will pander to whomever he is in front of.

    Was Obama a good present- well, lets see. Saddam is dead, our auto industry is alive, the banking system is still alive (albeit pretty dysfunctional), my 401K policy has started making a comeback, people with chronic illnesses will be guaranteed medical insurance. The roads and bridges are eating repaired thanks to the big out lays by the govt., this also put a lot of people to work. Foreign relations wilt many countries in the world have improved because we are not viewed as having a heavy hand, and when the Libyan crisis occurred, the US did not take the lead. Pretty good.

    Please, when you think about Obama, remember the choice was McCain and Palin, God help us if anything had happened to McCain and we would have had Palin as our leader.

    Republicans can try and defend Romney, but the truth is he's not much better than McCain. And Paul Ryan, he's got a pretty cold hearted view of society.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Obama Mama

    Of all the industrialized countries we are last in education and we are last in taking care of our people in health, the care for our elderly and our military.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Obama Mama

    Republicans are misers. The are the cheapest people and the stingiest people you will ever meet.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      Do not propagate hate. Do not create classes.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Experience working for the wealthy. A "lady" (used loosely) told me, I have one of you at home. I told her I work for one of you. My boss was horrified, I laughed and walked away.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dog4dog

    i am sorry but this whole bs about the gov fixing the economy is plain wrong, it is the people who will fix the economy, unions, what can the president really do, unless he gets a democratic congress nothing will happen, the only part of the economy he controls is the fed and they have showed a very strong economy, labor laws like seniority, tenureship and the rebirth of pensions is how you make a strong middle class, those will never come, our country is falling apart due to corporate greed, you work at a place for ten years of your life and they replace you with an intern who makes half your salary, i dont think we should harp too hard on the rich (that is another problem), people in this country are too bent on hate, we have no unity or class anymore, people dont work hard like they should and they only complain against those who better themselves, the election i am concerned about is not the presidents office but congress give the man obama a congress he can work with and our country will get better, we are falling apart

    September 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      That is why there is slow progress, republican congress needs to go.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Obama Mama

    I am not afraid to pay for my seniors, my military, the sick or the poor. I will not support the wealthy anymore. They will pay their due like all of us and not hide it in offshore accounts, in huge trusts. They will no longer laugh at us and buy elections. They are not corporations. Obama warned us about them, they will bring us to our knees and make us pay for their greed.

    September 19, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freedom

      Gee woman, you are on fire!

      September 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Yeah it has been a while since I have been here. I saw s kel awhile back, I hope I did not scare him.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    So Mitt hates the working poor! Who would have thought?

    September 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Zodnick

    After listening to the entire tape, not just the catchy soundbites they play in the media, I didn't find anything he had to say offensive. Perhaps that's because I'm part of the 53% who's tired of footing the bill for those who won't take responsibility for themselves.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • 99%

      so are you saying we should dump the teachers, janitors, poor families and elderly onto the streets? I guess that makes you an Anti-American rich idiot. if the rich paid their employees better wages then there wouldn't be a problem.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Those damn elderly, military, and people on medicare. Loafers. If you do not think the elderly and military have paid their dues as citizens you are mistaken. They still pay sales taxes. they paid payroll taxes. atate. local and exercise taxes. It is your friends the government that have stolen and plundered what we put into for our retirements, military and medicare payments and used them as slush funds. You will let the republicans take more to pay for their yachts and face lifts. Keep drinkin' the republican machine and serfdom is what you seek. Rome fell because of the greedy few and the military machine they had, so will we.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • billdad54

      I suppose this means that when the time comes that you're eligible for social security that you'll be sending that check back to Uncle Sam. Right?

      September 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
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