February 2nd, 2012
01:06 AM ET
9 years ago

Gingrich hammers Romney over 'poor' comment

Reno, Nevada (CNN) – White House hopeful Newt Gingrich cast Mitt Romney as out of touch with most Americans after his Republican presidential opponent took heat over remarks he made about the poor Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Romney sought to clarify a comment he made on CNN, in which he said he was not “concerned about the very poor.” The candidate later argued his words were taken out of context and re-iterated the full context of the quote, which was largely about his focus on the middle class.

“I've said throughout the campaign my focus, my concern, my energy is gonna be devoted to helping middle income people, all right?” Romney said to reporters. “We have a safety net for the poor in, 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."

But that didn’t stop Gingrich from going after the former Massachusetts governor at his first campaign stop in Nevada.

“He was asked this morning what his concerns were. He said quote, I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I will fix it,” Gingrich said, while reading a piece of paper. “And then he went on to say in response to a follow-up question, he said quote, we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor, you can focus on the very poor, that's not my focus.”

Loosely paraphrasing Romney’s statement, the former House speaker did not mention the larger context of the statement.

“I am fed up with politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other,” Gingrich said. “My goal is to find steps for every American to have a job, every American to work, every American to be able to buy a house.”

A day after coming in distant second behind Romney in Florida, Gingrich kicked off his four-day Nevada swing in Reno at Great Masin Brewery. The former speaker sought to rally people behind a campaign pitting “people power against money power.”

But Florida is one example of the tough road ahead for Gingrich.

“And I don’t believe that governor Romney can afford to outspend us five to one every place in the country. And I guarantee you that’s not … enough for him to beat Obama, because I can assure you he’s not going to outspend Obama five to one,” he said. “I believe ideas matter. I believe people matter.”

–CNN's Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Nevada • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. DRW60

    LOL! Seriously? This coming from a man that called blacks & latinos not as smart as asians? This coming from a man that tells poor kids they should get jobs as janitors because they have no habits of working? This coming from a man that has blasted class-warfare for the past month? Give me a BREAK #NotNewt

    February 2, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  2. Thomas

    Newt Gingrich needs to hammer Mitt Romney in regards to why his five sons avoided military service in a time of war .

    Newt is too weak to confront such a truth .

    Winston Churchill would !

    February 2, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  3. kat

    Grow up Gingrich, I was a supporter, but your whinning has turned me off

    February 2, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  4. Spiraling Agony


    February 2, 2012 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  5. Jackie Yates

    This was an insensitive remark regardless of context. He doesn't seem to realize that the MIDDLE CLASS have become the poor, the working poor, and yes the very poor. He speaks in generalities, not specifics. He can't down in the weeds on inflation and how it affects all Americans, rich, middle class, and poor, or gas prices, or home prices, practical problem solving. He's not a kitchen-table politician-just one that keeps on reiterating his talking points.

    February 2, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  6. Redmond Jennings

    “I believe ideas matter. I believe people matter.”

    Unless I'm married to them.

    February 2, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  7. Willie Floyd

    There is no way Romney can begin to connect with the middle class citizen. Compared to his lifestyle we would be the "poor". He has a permanent case of "hoof in mouth" dusease.


    February 2, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  8. ct

    it's over fellas...Good luck in four more years for obama

    February 2, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  9. Mr.1%er Romney is out of touch! Let the poor eat cake!

    Willard Mitt Romney was born with a "silver foot" in his mouth. The GOP Board Of Establishment is trying to get their base to swallow this Mitt Sandwich and it ain't going down easy.

    February 2, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  10. anaeliss

    I don't hear what Newt Gingrich saying what he gone to do for the poor and middle class people???the poor don't need to be continue encumbered in that"safety net", they need to be able to move forward. Now the middle class are forced to use government assistance because of the job situation. And Ron Paul want to turns everything back to the 1950's.we need a "Jubilee"like back there in the Bible times, debts forgiven, let start over???

    February 2, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  11. Ben

    Romney is out of touch with the American people. His money will not buy him the presidency. He and his friends at wall street want to take this country back to a deregulated environment where wall street run circles over the American people.
    Romney just want to be president, but does not care about the poor or middle class.

    February 2, 2012 05:01 am at 5:01 am |

    Wingnuts said jobs,jobs ,jobs two years ago too. They're lying.

    February 2, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  13. mike in wa

    trying to make it so every American can buy a house is what brought about the Housing Crisis.

    February 2, 2012 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  14. Marlee

    They could buy every American family a house with all the taxes they give to corporate, foreign govs, warlords and operatives.

    February 2, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  15. Marie MD

    newterman leroy, we already know that none of you in your party of hell no care about the poor. It was a slip of the tongue a Freudian slip you might say.
    You and your wife might want to go use some of that half a million dollar credit you have at Tifanny's to make you feel better.
    No wait, go to a school in a poor section of any city and make sure those kids stay after school to clean up toilets. Why should they go home and study to break that cycle that you are so interested in to make the poor feel worse.
    There, does that make you feel better!?!?!?!?

    February 2, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  16. GI Joe

    I think Romney needs to go and spend a couple of days and nights in the home of some of the poor people living in shacks with minimal heat, no air-conditioning, super plain food (if any), and SEE how the poor live every day of their lives. John Kennedy went into the super poor places and talked to then. THEN HE understood.

    February 2, 2012 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  17. Dave Des Moines

    Why are we suppose to worship certain occupations (doctor,lawyer,rich); when we should judge people by their character instead? I believe, there are many people (janitors,store clerks,truckers); who have higher character and determination worth than even some doctors and the rich, alike. Why are some financial transactions (no work capital gains) charged less in taxes than those who work hard? Why are our soldiers charged more in taxes than the rich? I believe, high regressive taxes (sales,gas,payroll) are harming our economy. Studies have shown, every time these regressive taxes were raised, per-capita credit cards debt has also risen. People are simply paying for necessary items with their credit cards. This debt has gotten so large, it has begun to choke our housing market. We must turn our housing market around to obtain full employment. We must revisit the affects of regressive taxes have on our whole economy. Then we should make necessary reductions in these taxes from this study. I guess the biblical command, how you treat the lesser of these (yourself) has some definite weight. I believe, lowering our regressive taxes will treat the poor more equitable; thus actually strengthen our whole economy. The well off should begin by showing us all that they are lobbying for the poor, as well. Their own pockets will be affected by having a stronger US economy with such changes to the regressive tax codes. Doing so will reflect the kind of character they have.

    February 2, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  18. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Newt is right. Princess Phony Pony, aka Rmoney the Robot, cares nothing about "the little people." His tax plan, which would raises taxes on the poor and middle class while reducing them on the filthy rich, is a perfect example of how little Rmoney cares about us.

    February 2, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  19. T'sah From Virginia

    ginGRINCH should have nothing to say – He wants to take jobs from adults and give it to poor "black" children instead!! Every candidate on the Right is out of touch!!!

    Obama 2012!

    February 2, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  20. Guess What

    and Romney quotes, I Dont Care About The Poor because I"M RICH

    February 2, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Romney lost it because if you have to clarify your statement too much, people will take your statment all different ways. If Romney can't understand what the problem is, then he is out of touch and beyond help. He won't make it. Gingrich is similar; has a problem censoring himself when he says exactly what he is thinking and no one wants to hear it.

    February 2, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  22. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Wharf rats seem to be more compassionate than Mittens.

    February 2, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  23. Nameirene

    Why do they say Mit Romney is the Mass Moderate? He did nothing good for Mass. He doesn't even come from Mass. He didn't and doesn't give a rat's ass for Mass or anyone else for that matter. Plus his singing sucks. I didn/ think Mormans lied.

    February 2, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  24. coy4one

    The real question is, who does Romney think is the middle class? He may think that the middle class are those who make between $500,000 and $5,000,000

    February 2, 2012 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  25. sensible

    Poor Mittens.....he blurts out what he really thinks, then has to back track to try to explain. His first comments are usually true.

    February 2, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
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