Romney: $10G Bet is ‘Outrageous’ Sum For ‘Outrageous’ Claim

It was the bet heard 'round the campaign trail, but former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney insists it was just a joke.

"This was an outrageous number to answer an outrageous charge from him," Romney told Fox News on Monday,

Responding to criticism that he is "out of touch" for offering a wager of $10,000 with fellow presidential candidate Rick Perry during Saturday night's debate, Romney said maybe he shouldn't be throwing down bets, but Perry's still wrong in his assertion that that Romney supported a health insurance mandate.

"It's been proven wrong time and again, he keeps raising it, and I said, 'Ok, let's put something outrageous out there,'" Romney told Fox. "It's like saying, 'Hey, I'll bet you a million bucks X, Y, or Z.'"

He added: "Afterwards, my wife came up, She said, 'Mitt, it was a great debate. You're great at a lot of things -- just not betting,'"

Romney has drawn criticism for the remark from his fellow candidates and from Democrats, who say anyone who can float a $10,000 wager is out of touch with most Americans.

He "casually threw out a $10,000 bet the other night, like it's a dollar or five dollars for other people," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told Fox News on Monday. "I mean, this is a person who really doesn't understand what's going on in middle-class America."

"I was taken a little aback," Perry told "Fox News Sunday." "I'm driving out to the station this morning I'm pretty sure I didn't drive by a house that anyone in Iowa would think a $10,000 bet was possible. It was a little out of touch with the normal Iowa citizen."

The Perry campaign even turned the moment into a political ad, playing a clip of the offer along with a news clip stating that $10,000 is about three months salary for the median income in Iowa, followed by text reading "the truth isn't for sale."

But Romney turned the criticism on President Obama.

"What the American people are tired of listening to is President Obama trying to find some way to deflect blame," Romney said. "He's been pushing this idea that somehow I'm not in touch with everyday people because I put out an outrageous number for an outrageous charge. But look, the president is the person who's failed the American people."

Romney also had choice words for fellow candidate Newt Gingrich, particularly on Gingrich's ties to government lobbying arm Freddie Mac.

"He says he was in a consulting business. That's very different than the consulting business other people have been in," Romney said. "He was in the business of connecting folks with government. He was on K Street."

Romney said that despite Gingrich's skyrocketing poll numbers -- some polls now show him as the frontrunner in several key states - in the end, Romney will win the nomination.

"I think as people look at our respective records as leaders, how we have performed as leaders, they'll come to the conclusion that I'm the guy who should go up against Barack Obama."

But Wasserman-Schultz, a key player in the Democratic campaigns in 2012, told Fox News that in the general election, it won't make much of a difference which candidate snags the nomination and goes up against Obama.

"It doesn't really much matter who he faces," Wasserman--Schultz said. "And the end of the day, the Republicans are basically all the same."