On a day when most political watchers would agree Mitt Romney should be celebrating an impressive victory, the winner of a critical primary in the super swing state of Florida has instead ended up explaining his views on the nation's poor.
During an interview Wednesday, Romney said his focus is on the middle class. "I'm not concerned about the very poor," Romney said. "There's a safety net there, and 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 heart of America, the 95% of Americans who are right now struggling."
Romney's comments about not being "concerned about the very poor" triggered a minor media feeding frenzy and ultimately led the former Massachusetts Gov. come to the back of his chartered campaign plane to clarify his comments.
"You've got to take the whole sentence, all right, as opposed to saying, and then change it just a little bit, because then it sounds very different," Romney explained. "I've said throughout the campaign my focus, my concern, my energy is going to be devoted to helping middle income people, all right? We have a safety net for the poor... and if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that. And if there are people that are falling through the cracks I want to fix that."
Mr. Romney said he was sure there are places where some poor people "fall between the cracks," and that "finding those places is one of the things that is the responsibility of government." However, the presidential hopeful also insisted there is a "very ample safety net in America, with Medicaid, housing vouchers, food stamps... We have a number of ways to help the poor... the greatest challenge that the country faces right now is not, is not to focus our effort on how we help the poor as much as to focus our effort on how to help the middle class in America, and get more people in the middle class and get people out of being poor and becoming middle income."
The Romney campaign points to the White House as the source of the problem. "President Obama has destroyed the middle class. His policies have given us a stagnant economy, high unemployment, declining wages, increase in poverty, and record amounts of new debt," said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul. "We look forward debating President Obama on how his policies have failed the middle class."