Analysis: How Romney's "Gift" Theory Misses the Mark

Romney blamed his loss on Obama's "gifts" to Latinos and other groups.

ByABC News
November 15, 2012, 3:13 PM

Nov 15, 2012— -- On a call with campaign donors on Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney blamed his loss partly on policy items or "gifts" -- that President Barack Obama supported aimed at core constituencies, including Hispanic, young, and black voters.

"What the 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, and that strategy worked," Romney said, according to audio of the call obtained by ABC News.

Romney spoke at length about how Obama's strategy was particularly effective among Latino voters, arguing that they were drawn in by the president's healthcare law, his support for comprehensive immigration reform, and the Obama campaign's superior turnout effort. Those factors, according to Romney, helped do him in; particularly in Florida where Hispanic voters swung for Obama in greater numbers than they did four years ago.

"He gave them a big gift on immigration with the DREAM Act amnesty program, which was obviously very, very popular with Hispanic voters, and then number two was Obamacare," Romney said.

Romney said that "Obamacare was massive" for "any lower-income Hispanic family … For the Hispanic household, my guess is [median income] is lower than that, maybe it's forty thousand a year. For a home earning let's say thirty thousand a year, free health care, which is worth about ten thousand dollars a year, I mean is massive, it's huge.

"It's a proven political strategy, which is giving a bunch of money to a group and, guess what, they'll vote for you," he added. "Immigration we can solve, but the giving away free stuff is a hard thing to compete with."

Romney's comments come at a time when Republicans are doing some soul searching about how they can better appeal to groups that strongly favored Obama, including Latinos and young people.

Other leaders in the GOP have rejected Romney's comments, indicating that the party is beginning to put more distance between itself and its presidential nominee. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called the remarks "absolutely wrong" and said "we have got to stop dividing American voters," according to reports.

Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist, dubbed Romney's comments "cynical" and described them as a misleading excuse for why he lost.

"What he is advocating for the GOP is precisely what conservatives accuse big government of doing to minority communities: Telling them they can't succeed — that the system is rigged — that 'the man' will keep them down, no matter how hard they try," he wrote at the Daily Caller. "This is bad for individuals' souls, and it's also bad for political parties."

So, exactly what about Romney's "gift" claims are off? Let's break them down.

1. "Free Stuff"

While Romney portrayed Latinos as a group that's very receptive to "free stuff," the community actually places a strong emphasis on hard work and entrepreneurship.

According to a Pew Hispanic Center study, a higher percentage of Latinos believe that hard work can get them ahead when compared to the general public.

The same study showed that three quarters (75 percent) of Latinos agreed that most people are willing to get ahead if they are willing to work hard. By contrast, 58 percent of all voters say hard work will bring success and 40 percent say that hard work does not necessarily guarantee success. Only 22 percent of Latinos think that hard work is no guarantee they will get ahead.