The Washington Post

Romney: Obama’s gift giving led to loss

Mitt Romney is blaming his loss in the presidential election on “Obamacare” and other “gifts” he says President Obama handed out to African Americans, Hispanics and other core supporters, according to news reports Wednesday.

The defeated Republican candidate told donors in a conference call that Obama targeted those demographics, along with young voters and women, through programs such as health-care reform and “amnesty” for children of illegal immigrants, according to articles posted online by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Both papers appeared to have listened to the call or obtained at least partial transcripts.

In explaining his overwhelming electoral college defeat last week, Romney said Obama followed what he called the “old playbook” of seeking votes from specific interest groups, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” the New York Times said. “In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” he added, according to the paper.

The question of how to appeal to the nation’s changing demographics is sensitive for Republicans, especially because Romney lost the non-white vote so badly to Obama, the nation’s first African American president.

Two leading Republican governors and potential presidential candidates, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, immediately denounced Romney’s remarks.

“We have got to stop dividing American voters. . . . I absolutely reject that notion, that description. . . . We’re fighting for 100 percent of the vote,’’ Jindal said at a news conference at a Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas.

A person who was on Romney’s call with the donors told The Washington Post that the subject of “certain demographics” was discussed, in the sense of “how the Obama campaign messaged that group, how we messaged this group . . . how, as Republicans, we didn’t build a campaign on promising things to groups of people.’’

But the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not an authorized spokesman, said he could not recall whether Romney or other campaign officials made the references or if the word “gifts” was used. Numerous former Romney campaign aides did not return calls and e-mails or declined to comment.

According to exit polls, Romney easily captured the white vote last week but Obama offset that, winning 93 percent of the African American vote and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“I am very sorry that we didn’t win,” Romney also said on the 20-minute call. “I know that you expected to win. We expected to win. . . . It was very close, but close doesn’t count in this business.”

Tumulty reported from Las Vegas. Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Jerry Markon covers the Department of Homeland Security for the Post’s National Desk. He also serves as lead Web and newspaper writer for major breaking national news.
Karen Tumulty is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where she received the 2013 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.