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. 1amazed1

    Romneyhood ........ Give to the Rich take from the poor

    September 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. One of the $&% and a Tax Payer

    It seems arrogant for a person who has made the bulk of his money from buying up companies, selling parts of them of,f and putting people out of work, to say something like this. I suppose IF, and that is a big IF hes elected does that mean he will be the President of only the people that vote for him. I guess you have to know how to eliminate jobs before you can create jobs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • dane

      Isn't that what we have now?

      September 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 1amazed1

    Romney and Ryan ....... Laurel and Hardy of the 21st century

    September 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Straight Edge

      Obama and Biden...The Beavis and Butthead of the 21st Century

      September 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mbarbou

    bigger stopping obama from using the white house curtains to wipe the fried chicken grease off his fingers

    September 19, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Racist. Republicans have had a terrible week.White sheet showing and hatred shown all in one week. True colors or lack of showing.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eric Johnson

    Maybe never took money but has access to courts, police, and fire protection, drive on the highways, protection by the military, disease and health control, access to public lands, FDIC guarantees, hospital ERs, various healthcare options, etc.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Fikes


      September 20, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. seeingitself

    Voting for Romney is just a vote for the wealthy to keep them wealthy & a vote declaring their total disregard for the poor & middle class. It's just a vote to keep the rich rich, so the fat cat republicans can continue lining their pockets & to attempt to continue their raping of the United States for their own gain. Vote OBAMA in November for real change in this country, not the Fascist regime that the repugnants want to establish! VOTE OBAMA IN NOVEMBER!!!

    September 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veteran

      Just give him 4 more years! He'll prove he is REAL socialist this time...and not only that, he will take money from people who have earned it, and it give it to people who have defaulted on their home loans! Yay for socialism!

      September 20, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @verteran, because those libraries, fire dept, ppolice dept., post offices, and teachers have just ruined our country.
      I think the tax avoider Romney hurts us worse by his unamerican offshore accounts and an insult to the american intelligence.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • John Fikes

      Vote for OBAMA if you want to see the USA turned into a mockery of it's former greatness pandering to the do nothings that don't want to get up off their couch and go to work because they won't start off making $100K a year! Yes, Romney referred to the 47% but everybody knows he meant the worthless people who won't go to work not the retirees and people who are working to scratch out a living. Spin the liberal press machine CNN spin! Obama really wants to help us all; he just wants to spread the wealth! I'll never forget when Obama was elected seeing the press coverage and the passionate supporters... why did you vote for Obama? "He's gonna give us the money" Where is Obama going to get the money? "I don't know, he's Obama, He's gonna give us Obama money!" was the response from the highly intelligent Obama supporter.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      Or even worse, he will give it to the banks who gave out loans to banks who caused all this mess...wait he did. Mitt Romney would have done the same. The first stimilus came under George Bush who bailed out the businesses who caused the House Crisis. This is what you get when you let uncheck greed play on the dreams of the poor.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat in the Hat

      Total robot answer from the Obama camp. You sir, seem to define your plight as handed down by the better off. Consider that your president has purposely placed you there to keep you dependent and voting for government aka Obama aka the corrupt media. Vote Romney not so much for Romney, but to keep our country from turning socialist that keeps you angry, poor, and victim state. Redistribution of wealth benefits few....redistribution of poverty hurts us all.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. krehator

    It is the true face of the radical right. Generalization, hate, and exclusion.

    Just like most hate groups.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veteran

      But wait! You forgot to play the "racism" card...or the "environmentalist" lunatic card! Let me see...there must be some more broad generalizations I can make about anyone who isn't a dope smoking liberal like me....!

      September 20, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat in the Hat

      The ultimate hate group is a regime that hoaxes you to believe that they are in your best interest, qualified, and getting results. The result is that you will never succeed, exceed, or proceed with anything other than government welfare and dependency. To keep a minority dependent states that you aren't worthy of greatness. To say that the successful should pay your way in programs means that you are at their mercy via government. Government is your employee. If you believe it is the other way around then you are enslaving yourself and cheating yourself of the greatness you can be.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hadenuffyet

    Jobs, people . Living wage jobs . The government has permitted and even rewarded companies for exporting jobs ever since the Reagan administration. Force them back and a lot of this nonsense will abate.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tj

    Sometimes the truth hurts but it has to be said.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Yeah the elderly are a drag on the economy they paid into. Death panels for all of them. You really do not get it or do not care to find out.

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

      The truth hurts but worse is when you twist the truth to fit your narrow minded view of the world. What about the corporate welfare that is going on? Should businesses that make huge profits get a tax breaks?

      September 20, 2012 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    CNN the communist news network.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Fake news and Rush- entertainment for the feable minded.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Could be worse. Could be fox news. The network that is against free speech for all except themselves.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tax Refugee

    When the dependent majority vote to loot the productive minority the democracy is over.
    Looking forward to leaving the country soon.

    September 19, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      When the wealthy few make the masses pay for the monopoly money they played with on wall Street, we all will have to pay for their games.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Obama Mama.... who's paying for the monopoly money again? Surely not the poor 47% who pay no income taxes.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      Not Romney.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Obama Momma, are these the best arguements you can make? you are no better than the bumbling idiots that can only post Obama is not American and Obama is a Muslim. People if your life experiences can only give you factless, baseless one liners you are not bettering anyones cause, left or right.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      Average Joe, How many people lost their retirements when greedy investors put their retirement into bad CDO's that had an SSS credit rating. How many CEO's, CFO's and COO's got huge bonus for fixing the numbers. Millions of people worldwide lost their retirement because of the greed of some of the weathy. Note I said some not all. When you group people together your bound to get your facts wrong.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Many wealthy people lost fortunes as well, not just the poor. Crooks target everyone, including the wealthy because they have more money to take from. CEO's, COO's, CFO's are no different than anyone else, they to can get fired and have, the crooked ones are mostly in jail where they belong. Everyone got greedy from the rich to the poor and we are all paying the price of greed.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Obama Mama

      @Average Joe- no pretty much they were able to have insider trading secrets and People like Romney, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Ried, Pelosi and all of them traded or like Cantor put their portfolio's in betting against America.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Obama Mamma... you are right, so why did we as the American people decide not to fire these politicians? left and right? We had the opportunity.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      Both sides do not take personnal responibility but blame the other side. Most voting Americans usually take one side or the other. Damn the facts or not. Its how its spiinned in the media. Be it republican or democrat leaning. With the (house) divided both sides are able to cheat the American people.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. Obama Mama

    Romney was speaking of people who do not pay income tax. Our elderly, military and working class whom do not make alot of money. These people do pay sales taxes, state, local. and exercise taxes.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Average Joe

    Obama Momma, so do the rest of us. But again what is the valid point to have 1 person pay 37% and other pay 0% or worse ... as I have seen people who file phony 1099's just to get $8,000 of someone else's money in Earned Income Credit.
    I know a few rich people, I admire them, I have a very good friend who is 78 and very wealthy, he still goes to work everyday and works more hours than most 40 year olds. Don't preach fairness to me.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  14. Obama Mama

    So you are saying the elderly never paid income tax? They paid into SS, medicare, and everything we do.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Obama Mama

    A 1099 is given to people to pay taxes on money earned when a company does not pay your taxes.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
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