Republican governors Bobby Jindal (LA) and Scott Walker (WI) spoke out against Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama won because he gave minorities and young people “big gifts” in the form of Obamacare, his DREAM directive, and partial college loan forgiveness. At the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jindal called the statement “absolutely wrong,” saying, “I absolutely reject that notion.” Walker, who was on a panel with Jindal when he denounced Romney, agreed that the GOP isn’t “just for people who are currently not dependent on the government. It’s for all Americans.”
Both governors, who were Romney surrogates, stayed quiet during Romney’s earlier iteration of this idea, when he told donors that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are victims” and will never “take personal responsibility.” Walker ducked the controversy at the time, saying “That’s a statement he has to take on, not myself.” Jindal also deferred judgment, refusing to “be one of these political pundits.”
But after a definitive loss down the ticket on Election Night, Republicans are doing some “brutally honest” soul-searching about the future of their party. Jindal was especially outspoken, imploring the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” He was blunt in his newfound criticism for Romney in an interview with Politico:
The Republican Party is going to fight for every single vote. That means the 47 percent and the 53 percent…We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.
Other top Republicans lavished blame on Romney at the conference and complained that the campaign did not offer enough specifics to combat Obama.
Romney told donors in a call on Wednesday that Obama won because he “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift,” before going on to explain how several of the presidents’ policies have directly helped these Americans.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) also dismissed Romney on MSNBC, pointedly saying, “I don’t agree with the comments. I think the campaign is over.”
On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) cautiously weighed in on Romney’s “gifts” comment: “our mission should not be to deny government benefits to people who need them…I don’t want to rebut him point by point. 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.”