(CNN) – A surrogate for Mitt Romney's campaign said Monday the presumptive GOP nominee was taken out of context when he argued against the idea of hiring more fire fighters, police and teachers on the taxpayer dime.
"Look at the remarks that Mitt made Friday. They, from what I understand, have been taken out of context," former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense said on a conference call organized by the Romney campaign.
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His comments came in response to a reporter's question about whether Democrats were fairly portraying Romney's original comments.
At a press conference on Friday, Romney said Obama "wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers."
He went on, referring to last week's Wisconsin recall effort: "Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."
"The president's re-election team immediately pounced on the comments, using them in web videos this weekend hitting Romney as "out of touch" and damaging to the middle class.
Bense, the former Florida House speaker, maintained Monday that critics were unfairly quoting Romney over his comments, but pushed back at the notion the Romney's campaign was taking out of context President Obama's comments that the private sector was "doing fine."
"I'm not sure how you can take that out of context. I just don't know how you can say that when we are struggling to survive," Bense, a small business owner, said on the call.
His take, however, seems to contradict comments from another Romney surrogate earlier Monday. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu defended Romney, suggesting Romney was not taken out of context and said there was "wisdom" in his comment.
There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population," Sununu said on MSNBC. "And as the population goes down, you need fewer teachers. As technology contributes to community security and dealing with issues that firefighters have to deal with, you would hope that you can, as a taxpayer, see the benefits of the efficiency and personnel that you get out of that."
Pressed further on whether he really believes taxpayers want fewer teachers, police and fire fighters, Sununu continued to make his argument.
"If there's fewer kids in the classrooms, the taxpayers really do want to hear there will be fewer teachers. Absolutely," Sununu said.
Romney's campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the surrogates' remarks.