Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Mitt Romney is doubling down on a remark he made this week equating big business to everyday people, hoping to use it as a differentiator between himself and President Obama on the top issue facing the nation: the ailing economy.
Romney's response that "corporations are people" to a liberal heckler during an exchange over fiscal policy at the Iowa State Fair Thursday immediately lit up the blogosphere and was shown repeatedly on cable television. Even the Democratic National Committee jumped on the comment and saw its own political gold in trying to score points against a leading contender for the GOP nomination. The DNC released a 30 second television ad on Saturday morning blasting Romney for it.
But Romney, a successful businessman whose primary campaign message is focused on turning around the economy, is embracing the comment on the campaign stump and in fundraising appeals.
"Look at your paycheck there is the name of a business on there that's paying for your salary," Romney said after addressing about 250 people Friday evening in this New Hampshire city. "Look at your 401k and see the names of businesses that you're part owner of. Businesses are comprised of people and it's amazing to me that the Democrats and President Obama are so far behind the times."
Romney added that he found it "pretty astonishing that the Obama folks would try and argue that businesses aren't people.
"What do they think they are little men from Mars? Businesses are comprised of people."
As Romney continues to pound this theme on the campaign trail, his top campaign aides are engaging in a full court press fundraising effort highlighting it. Within hours of his "corporations are people" comment, Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades sent out a fundraising email describing it as a "defining moment." In the first 24 hours, the campaign had raised more than $25,000 from this pitch, communications director Gail Gitcho said. And the campaign plans to expand the pitch pushing this message in the form of a national direct mail piece.
By embracing this comment and theme, the Romney campaign is clearly hoping to drive a wedge between the business community and Obama at the same time using this "defining moment" to further highlight Romney's business background for undecided Republican and independent voters.