(CNN) - Mitt Romney reiterated his stand Wednesday that a prolonged GOP primary would ultimately help the party's nominee, saying rival candidates had every right to remain in the contest.
Speaking to CNN's Soledad O'Brien the morning after claiming a decisive win in Florida's primary, Romney said he wouldn't mind if the race went all the way to August's Republican National Convention.
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"Each candidate has the right to stay in the race as long as they want to," Romney said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
He added, "I welcome the fact that we're going to be honing our message and battling against the attacks that will come. But I recognize that this is going to be a long road and particularly if Speaker Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul want to go on a long way, I certainly want to go a long way, go to the convention as a winner."
The barrage of negative advertising, characterized Tuesday by a media consultant as the "most negative campaign ever," would not be harmful to the eventual nominee, Romney said. The former Massachusetts governor said the attack spots would continue to be necessary for drawing distinctions between the candidates.
"When we were in South Carolina I was vastly overspent with negative ads attacking me," Romney said. "And we sat back saying a positive message, focused on President Obama, would be just fine. I got beaten there. And we said, well, that doesn't make a lot of sense. So our campaign made sure that we were more pointed on our message and pointing out the differences between me and Speaker Gingrich and our respective records."
Romney has claimed a number of times to have spent less than Gingrich in South Carolina, but figures from Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) indicate otherwise. Romney's campaign spent $1.35 million in South Carolina, while Gingrich's operation spent $414,000, according to CMAG. The two other candidates in the race, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, spent $714,000 and $870,000, respectively.
Super PACs backing Romney and Gingrich also spent millions in South Carolina, but the numbers still favored Romney. Restore our Future, backing the former Massachusetts governor, spent just under $2 million in the Palmetto State, according to CMAG. The Gingrich-backing Winning our Future spent $1.34 million.
In explaining his position on the economy, Romney seemed to offer bait to Democratic and Republican rivals alike.
"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."
He explained further: "It's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. You can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich, that's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus. My focus is on middle income Americans."
Romney has long said in his stump speeches that his campaign would focus on the middle class rather than the very poor or rich.