In a conference call with his national finance committee on Wednesday, Republican Mitt Romney attributes his election loss to President Barack Obama’s “gifts” that he bestowed on minorities and young people during his first term.
Mitt Romney said Barack Obama’s win was buoyed in large part by loyal Democratic constituencies including the poor that he had promised “free health care”, the immigrants that he had protected from deportation and the college-aged women that he had offered free contraceptives.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity? I mean, this is huge.”
“Likewise, with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus,” he added.
“But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called DREAM Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Barack Obama announced in June that he would grant temporary amnesty to some children of undocumented immigrants who met certain requirements and had clean criminal records. The program resembled the DREAM Act, which had long been stalled in Congress.
Mitt Romney chided Barack Obama over the summer for waiting so long to address immigration reform, charging that his amnesty program was politically motivated.
“He saves these sort of things until four-and-a-half months before the general election,” Mitt Romney said in June on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“I think the timing is pretty clear. If he really wanted a solution that dealt with these kids or illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three-and-a-half years, not in his last few months.”
Now Mitt Romney is saying that the program is what persuaded Hispanics to support Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney won 59% of the white vote, while Barack Obama was backed by 93% of black voters, 71% of Latinos and 60% of voters younger than 30, according to exit polls.
He said that Barack Obama directed his campaign according to the “old playbook” of targeting specific groups with promises of legislation that would persuade them to vote a certain way.
“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mitt Romney said.
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” Mitt Romney said.
“Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. 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,” Mitt Romney said.
Similarly, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, blamed the Republican ticket’s loss on high turnout among “urban” voters.
“I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race,” Paul Ryan told a television station in Wisconsin.
“When we watched Virginia and Ohio coming in, and those ones coming in as tight as they were, and looking like we were going to lose them, that’s when it became clear we weren’t going to win.”
Mitt Romney told his finance team that the sting of his loss was still too strong to begin mapping out his plans going forward for himself and for the Republican Party.
“I am very sorry that we didn’t win,” he said.
“I know that you expected to win. We expected to win… It was very close, but close doesn’t count in this business.”
Mitt Romney added: “And so now we’re looking and saying, <<O.K., what can we do going forward?>>. But frankly we’re still so troubled by the past, it’s hard to put together our plans from the future.”
Barack Obama’s “gifts”
Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama targeted blacks, Hispanics and young people with certain “gifts” including:
- Obamacare’s provisions allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans through age 26
- A program that caps federal student loan payments at 10% of income and forgives any remaining debt after 20 years of consistent payments
- Temporary deportation exemptions granted to young illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements
- Requirement that most employers provide health insurance covering birth control