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. stephen

    Romney the president of the 1%.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ida

    The conservatives compared this guy to Reagan. Yeah right?!

    September 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jay

    Romney/Ryan the most dishonest presidential ticket in history.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon gillespie

      You're a liar.

      September 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • cateye

      I do agree with you, this man Romey has lied and broken the law. One news reporter showed him buying votes by givng food away and nothing wa done or said about, he has done other things too. Why do they let him keep going on. That right he's a white man, its ok to break the law.

      October 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat


      October 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gina

    This guy does not understand the common man. These comments just reaffirm what I have thought about this man since he ran for the presidency the first time. He is a rich white guy who cares nothing about the middle class.

    September 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Izz

      I'm still waiting for Obama to do something for the middle class. It's been 4 years. Now what?

      October 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |

    AMERICA IS WAKING UP TO THE FRAUD. Defeat the corrupt republicon party of hate. what wmd ? this massive three trillion dollar fraudulet wars are the main reason for the economic bush collaspe of 2008 and the great recession. wake up america and vote. defeat the party of fraud and waste.

    October 2, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cly

    This coming from the guy that 'Off-shores' his wealth to pay less taxes! Ironic.

    October 2, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Maadmax

    The fact is, M. Romney said this (talking about the 47% of Americans who don't pay taxes) over two weeks ago and then supported what he said by standing by it. Then, right after the Presidential Debate he says he shouldn't have said it, he misspoke. Typical Romney! But the question now is, are Americans that really gullable?

    October 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Izz

      Are Americans that gullible? The answer is YES. Yes they are. Romney has done this, and it is inexcusable. Obama lied about Libya and Democrats pranced around saying it was because of a youtube video. He deceived, yet he is immediately forgiven of his HUGE MISTAKE. Obama says that he will have more flexibility to do things after the election, with regard to Russia. People forget, forgive, ignore, and get hung up on lame comments like "binders." This is America. This is the way that things are. It is our fault that it is this way, and it will continue to be this way. I don't see any change happening soon. If an American can't see that these things happen on both sides of the party lines, then they are only blinding themselves from the obvious truth. In doing so, they are following politicians, like sheep, on fake promises, lies, half-truths, and cover ups. Loyalty is admirable... blind loyalty is equivalent to stupidity.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    I'm in the 47% and I want out. Ears seems more interesting in torturing unemployment statistics into something more re-electable and growing the debt than in growing the economy. Lost the best job I ever had simply because he was elected. Entrepeneurs don't wait for socialist expansion to hit proxits. They're not about jobs, they're about profit that this mans policies were destined to shrink while the the Forward 2012 bus backs up over "bump in the road" Christopher Stevens to make sure he's ok. I don't think we can afford another 5 trillion more worth of Ears' recovery, nor should he be allowed to more non-combatants in harms way so he can claim "peace for our time".

    October 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Izz

      5 trillion for Romney over 10 years. Obama has spent 1 trillion every year since he was elected. In ten years? Yep, 10 trillion dollars. If Obama has a plan, he needs to present it, and now. I haven't heard what he has in mind for this country, and I haven't heard details about Romney's ideas. I'm just getting so tired of the lies, the fact-checkers, and the "spins" by the media. I want the cold, hard, truth. I don't care if it isn't something I want to hear. I want to know where we stand, and what our options are. I want to feel like I matter.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. child of midian

    I'm Mitt Romney and I stand for, what do I stand for today?

    October 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Oladapo Odumosu

    If Romney really believes those 47 percent will vote for Obama no matter what, let him dare ask all of them not to vote for him. I double dare him. I even tripple double dare him to do that. The hypocrisy in all these is that about half of these 47 percent that he so much debased with his comment are Republicans and will vote for Mitt (Myth) Romney. A politician with spine should own up to his comments and say 'Oh, I really said that, and I really mean it".
    The irony is that Romney himself is one of the 47 percent, because he does not pay enough taxes!
    In that case, he should vote for Obama!!!

    October 17, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Izz

      When a politician says something and means it, huh? Let me know when Obama has fulfilled his promises, then get back to me. And don't tell me he has. He made a heck of a lot of promises, and many of them have been utterly unfulfilled. If he can't deliver, he shouldn't make it a promise, regardless of Congress. He can't blame his entire presidency on things he doesn't have control over: Bush, Congress, Republicans, etc. If the buck stops with him, he needs to stand up and take responsibility. How about you hold him accountable? Romney isn't President. Obama is. Romney isn't making decisions for the country right now. Obama is. Hold the people responsible for these problems accountable. We don't know how Romney would be as President. We didn't know that about Obama either. We do now though, and that's where the choice comes from. I want people to vote because they think one person will be better for the country; not vote for who they "like" more. If it is Obama, great. If it is Romney, great. But don't vote based on idle comments by politicians. If you do, then you shouldn't vote at all, because both sides are guilty.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ichibandan

    Looks like Mr. Rice is just realizing what his Repubican party has been about these last 4 years. Sorry Mr. Rice, but it's your fault you don't have a job. You're a parasite.Just ask Mitt Romney. He has written off you and millions just like you. The Tea Party hates any kind of government help and their fondest wish is to kill welfare, social security and medicare. You're on yer own, Bubba! And don't let me see you around my garbage cans!

    October 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
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