Gingrich: Romney 'gifts' comment 'nuts'

CNN
Sunday, November 18, 2012 - 7:58pm

Newt Gingrich had harsh words Sunday for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's suggestion that he lost the election because President Barack Obama offered "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics, and young voters.

"I just think it's nuts," Gingrich said on ABC. "I mean, first of all, it's insulting."

"The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win," said Gingrich, who launched blistering attacks on Romney last spring while seeking the presidential nomination himself.

Revelation of Romney's comments drew criticism from others within his own party, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - who said a winning strategy does not involve "insulting (voters) and saying their votes were bought" -- and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said, "Rhetoric like this keeps digging a hole for the Republican Party."

Romney was quoted by several news outlets as having made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday, and CNN confirmed he made similar arguments in a separate call earlier in the day.

"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the later call. Portions of audio from the call aired on ABC that evening.

The New York Times quoted Romney as having said, "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift."

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued, according to the Times. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."

Romney has stayed out of the public eye since losing the election nearly two weeks ago, and his longtime spokesman did not return a request from CNN for comment about his remarks.

Jindal spoke out against the comments at the Republican Governors Association meeting earlier in the week, and on Sunday described Romney as "honorable and exceptional" but said the comments do not represent his party.

"I'm proud to have campaigned for him across the country, but I absolutely reject what he said. Look, we as the Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote," Jindal said on Fox. "If we want people to like us, we have to like them first. And you don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. We are an aspirational party."

The GOP will not succeed by "just having better PR folks," he said.

CNN exit polls showed Romney won white voters, while Obama carried 93% of African-American voters, 71% of Latino voters, and 73% of Asian voters. Obama outperformed Romney among voters under 39 years of age, while Romney carried a majority of voters over 40.

Graham said Hispanics "voted for (Obama) because he's the lesser or two evils."

"We're in a big hole. We're not getting out of it by comments like (Romney's)," Graham said on NBC. "When you're in a hole, stop digging. He keeps digging."

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra said on ABC that the comments show the Republican Party did not "read the tea leaves from November 6, and I think they're still harkening to yesteryear. It's a new day in America, and they should be catching up."
 

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