Romney’s ‘gift’ comments, where he told top donors that Obama won by giving gifts to minorities, sparked negative reactions from Latinos and Republicans.
Latinos: Romney’s ‘gift’ comments hurt him and the GOP
Months leading up to the presidential election, Latino leaders and immigrant rights activist cautioned that Romney’s and the Republican Party’s hard line stance on immigration and failure to appeal to Latinos would hurt them in the elections.
Now, they argue that Romney’s comments about Obama winning because of the ‘gifts’ he gave Latinos, blacks and young people are not helping his image. Neither is it helping the Republican Party as it begins to shift in a pro-immigration reform direction and as it increases efforts to attract Latinos.
“Republicans are starting to get away from him now,” Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told VOXXI. “They don’t want to be associated with him.”
Grijalva also said that after hearing Romney’s comment, he is “gratified” that the former Republican presidential candidate didn’t win.
“We’re talking about somebody who deeply believes in the concept of classes and the separation of classes,” Grijalva told VOXXI of Romney. “You could tell by the 47 percent comment and now the gift comment just verified what that mentality was.”
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, who was critical of Romney throughout his campaign for his hard line stance on immigration, called Romney’s ‘gift’ comments “ugly and offensive.” He also indicated that the remarks hurt the GOP.
“I guess he really does view the 47 percent, especially people of color, as entitled,” he told VOXXI in a statement. “The fact is that the hostility towards Latinos and immigrants and other minorities is the exact reason why the Republican Party’s whites-only strategy failed so miserably. They either adapt to the America that is or they will die as a national party.”
Similarly, Eric Rodriquez, of the National Council of La Raza, told VOXXI that when campaigns and candidates “invest in the Latino community, engage them on issues that matter to them, and show that they’re willing to change policy to meet their needs, they find themselves competing for the Latino vote.”
“With greater than 800,000 Latinos turning 18 each year for the foreseeable future aspiring presidential candidates would be wise to focus their attention on these basic tactics,” Rodriguez added.
“These are not gifts, these are things that people pay for,” he told VOXXI. “These benefits were paid for by tax payers so that they could be used for families who are in need and can’t afford these types of things.”
Parraz also refuted Romney’s ‘gift’ comments about the deferred action program, saying, “These students weren’t handed anything for free, they earned that right.”
Latino Republicans condemn Romney’s ‘gift’ comments
Following Romney’s comments, many Latino Republican and supporters wasted no time in condemning the former presidential candidate.
Among those critics is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). During Romney’s run for president, she not only endorsed him but also appeared in a Florida TV ad dubbed “Nosotros” in which she touted his candidacy.
But on Thursday, her office emailed VOXXI the following statement: “She disagrees with Gov. Romney’s purported statement and congratulates President Obama on his win. The Republican Party needs to expand our base to include more young people, women, and minorities.”
Luis Alvarado, former Los Angeles regional chairman for the McCain/Palin campaign, told VOXXI he voted for Romney and was troubled by the former Republican presidential candidate’s “gift” comments.
“I don’t understand where he finds this to be valid,” he said about what Romney said. “I can’t understand his thought process, but I think his comments are regrettable and insensitive.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was less aggressive in his criticism of Romney’s remarks. He told POLITICO that he hadn’t seen the full context of Romney’s comments and instead downplayed them as “an analysis to donors.”
“I don’t want to rebut him point by point,” Rubio told POLITICO of Romney. “I would just say to you, I don’t believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don’t want to work. I’m not saying that’s what he said. I think we have millions of people in this country that are out of work and are dependent on the government because they can’t find a job.”
Former surrogates disapprove of Romney’s comments
Among those who were the most outspoken in their disapproval of Romney’s “gift” comments were also many of his fellow Republicans and former surrogates.
One of those surrogates is Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). On Thursday, Ayotte said she disapproved of the former presidential candidate’s remarks.
“I don’t agree with the comments.” Ayotte told MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
“I think the campaign is over, and what the voters are looking for us to do is to accept their votes and then go forward, and we’ve got some big challenges that need to be resolved.”
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana also told reporters Wednesday at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas that he disapproved of Romney’s ‘gift’ comments. He added that the Republican Party needs to fight to represent the entire voting electorate.
“If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes. Second, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream, period,” he told reporters.
White House responds to Romney’s comments
The White House was also quick to respond to Romney’s ‘gift’ comments. While speaking to reporters on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said both President Obama and the American people are in disagreement with Romney’s comments.
“That view of the American people, of the electorate and of the election is at odds with the truth of what happened last week,” Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. “As we talked about a lot and the president talked about a lot, making it easier for Americans to go to college—that’s good for America. It’s good for all Americans. It’s good for the economy.”
“Making health care available to young people who can stay on their parents’ plans,” he proceeded to say. “That’s good for those families it’s good for those young people so they aren’t bankrupted in their 20’s by an illness. And it’s good for the economy and it’s good for all of us.”