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Romney blames loss on ‘gifts’ to Obama backers

NEW YORK — A week after losing the presidential election to President Obama, Mitt Romney blamed his overwhelming electoral loss on what he said were big ‘‘gifts’’ that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies — including young voters, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

In a conference call on Wednesday with his national finance committee, Romney said that the president had followed the ‘‘old playbook’’ of wooing specific interest groups with targeted gifts and initiatives.

“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,’’ Romney said.

‘‘With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,’’ he 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.’’

The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters. Though Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minority voters coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of black voters and 71 percent of Hispanic voters backed Obama.


‘‘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,’’ he said. ‘‘Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. 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.’’

In the 20-minute call, Romney was by turns disappointed and pragmatic, expressing his frustration that he’d failed to defeat Obama on Election Day.


‘‘I’m very sorry that we didn’t win,’’ he said on the call. ‘‘I know that you expected to win, we expected to win, we were disappointed with the result, we hadn’t anticipated it, and it was very close but close doesn’t count in this business.’’

On the call, Romney also echoed a theme from the campaign trail, saying that while the Obama ‘‘made a big effort on small things,’’ his message had been about ‘‘big issues.’’

‘‘Our campaign, in contrast, was talking about big issues for the whole country — military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs, and so forth,’’ he said.