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Romney says 'not concerned about the very poor'

Republican Mitt Romney said Wednesday he was seeking to be president to help struggling middle-class Americans, but he was "not concerned about the very poor" who have a safety net to help them.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2012 08:14 IST

Republican Mitt Romney said Wednesday he was seeking to be president to help struggling middle-class Americans, but he was "not concerned about the very poor" who have a safety net to help them.

In comments sure to trigger a firestorm, the multi-millionaire businessman who acknowledged an income of $20 million in 2010, told CNN: "I'm in this race because I care about Americans.


"I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine.

"I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation."

He was speaking fresh from his victory in the Florida primary in which he trounced rival Newt Gingrich as they both seek to be the Republican nominee to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in November elections.

Despite having recaptured the frontrunner seat in the race, doubts still remain over Romney's conservative credentials amid accusations that he has failed to connect with ordinary citizens.

He argued that while there were programs in place to help the very poor in America, middle-class Americans who have lost their jobs and are hurting amid the struggling economy had no such safety nets.

After his remarks, however, Romney sought out correspondents flying on his campaign plane in an effort to take the heat out of his remarks.

"Of course I'm concerned about all Americans... poor, wealthy, middle class, but the focus of my effort will be on middle income families who I think have been most hurt by the Obama economy," he said.

Romney's remarks triggered a broadside from Gingrich.

"I am fed up with politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other. I am running to be president of all the American people and I am concerned about all of the American people," Gingrich said.

Romney has already been accused of being out of touch with the economic concerns of the average voter.

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary in January, Romney said: "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me" -- an ill-advised remark which was seized upon by opponents as evidence of being callous.

In reality, the remark was taken out of context, as Romney was trying to say that he wanted Americans to be able to switch insurance companies if they were unhappy with their service.

The slip-up followed an earlier off-the-cuff remark in which he proposed a $10,000 bet with Texas Governor Rick Perry -- a small sum to multimillionaire Romney but a fortune to many Americans.