February 4th, 2012
01:25 AM ET
10 years ago

Paul defends Romney on 'poor' comment

(CNN) - While some opponents of Mitt Romney seized on his now-famous "misstatement" about the poor this week, Ron Paul defended his Republican presidential rival on Friday.

"I don't believe for a minute that if Mitt Romney was sitting here, that if he released everything in his heart, he (would say): 'You know what, the truth is, I really don't care about poor people.' That isn't–I just don't believe that," Paul said in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

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Romney made the original comment in an interview with CNN on Wednesday morning, in which he said he was not "concerned about the very poor" because they have a government-backed safety net in place. He added, however, that "if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that."

His remark quickly sparked an outcry that forced the former Massachusetts to spend much of the day clarifying his comment and providing fuller context.

Ultimately Romney conceded Thursday, saying he "misspoke."

“When you do I don’t know how many thousands of interviews, now and then you may get it wrong, and I misspoke,” Romney said in an interview on KSNV, a CNN affiliate in Las Vegas.

Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, as well as top Democratic groups, took swipes at Romney over the remark, hitting the candidate as insensitive.

But Paul, who will compete with Romney in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, said the comment was overblown.

"I think it was a big issue because of politics, because of the opposition, the demagoguing, the media jumping on this," Paul said. "Actually, I think I ended up probably defending him more than he defended himself."

The libertarian Texas congressman, instead, faulted Romney's economic plans for his slip-up.

"I think the problem is he's a victim of his own economic theories, rather than him being cold and heartless," Paul said.

Also see:

Romney on 'poor' comment: I misspoke

McDonnell open to spot as GOP running mate

Romney hits U.S. Taliban proposal

A Trump endorsement: Where imagination and reality meets

Gingrich to challenge Florida delegates

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Ron Paul • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Bill

    If anyone knows something about Mormonism (no, it's not a cult) they'd know that taking care of poor and needy is an integral part of their faith's life phiosophy. So, this idea that Romney is anti-poor or ready to disenfranchise them via cutting all their help programs is bogus. We've also learned over the past year or so that the president has a very limited ability to influence daily life for the citizenry without the cooperation of congress so let's not get this thing blown out of proportion! The guy mis-spoke ...even rich, smart, Ivy League types do it .....don't we all once in a while? Move on!

    February 4, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. beevee

    is this doctor getting senile defending Romney's comment? There is not safety net for poor people who have already hit the bottom in the economic ladder. There is no meaning in repairing thier safety net. What they need is to help them get to next rung in the economic ladder, not just make them saty there which means you want them stay poor for ever. Do you get it?

    February 4, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. johhip

    I like Ron Paul. He doesn't need a pollster to tell him public opinion before he speaks because he knows what he believes. Paul has integrity. When the bandwagon was forming to attack Romney because he made a lot of money at Bain Capital, Paul responded immediately and made the defense for free enterprise. When Donald Trump tried to hijack the primary and moderate a circus instead of a debate, Paul refused and called him out. Paul cuts through the BS of politics and campaigning, and he stays focused on his message. Even if I disagree with some of his positions (which is the case for all of the candidates), I admire his integrity and his ability to speak to an issue without having to conduct a poll to test his position.

    February 4, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    Republicans don’t care about humans so why we have to talk about Rich and poor

    February 4, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Sophia

    Why are Ron Paul and Rck Santorum still in the news? We have more than enough comedy with Williard and Newt.

    February 4, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Soulard2121

    Those that criticize Ron Paul are clearly individuals who don't understand economics. They probably can't define the word inflation. We can't keep printing and borrowing money, we are not going to pay back.

    It's unfortunate that the media doesn't provide all candidates the same amount of coverage. If CNN wants to differentiate themselves from FOX News try really being "Fair and Balanced."

    February 4, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. Scott

    Ron Paul is just another less than competent hot air bag. The guy says he supports term limits but he has been office roughly as long as I have been alive. And his campaign to end the Federal Reserve is a bunch of hogwash. The guy lost credibility when he failed to apologize for his racist newsletters.

    February 4, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Ladygeek

    I was once very poor (lucky to make $10k a year). I finally realized that it wasn't the rich or the government holding me back, but that I wasn't pushing myself forward. I went to a local community college's financial aid dept, received help to complete student aid forms, and started to get myself educated. Thanks to all you taxpayers in the late 90's who helped fund the Pell grands that started me down that path. With 2 yrs completed, I qualified for a higher paying job and took the risk of getting student loans to continue on and earn my e-Business undergrad degree, which led to an even higher paying job. Not yet satisfied, I went on to earn my MBA and several promotions followed.

    I was below the poverty line, hating the 'Rich', and thinking someone owed me a better life. I pulled my head out and am now making $100k a year, able to support a growing son and an aging mother, and realize I was the one owing everything to myself. If I can do that, so can everyone else. THAT is what people like Paul and Romney are saying.

    February 4, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. doug

    I don't fault the Democrats who can only respond to facts with hate and attacks, certainly if they just spoke candidly about their wishes no decent person would ever vote Dem.

    Facts are facts, Democrats want people poor because that is how they get power, Democrats will continue their effort to keep poor people poor all for control, Republicans will always stand as the supporters of the American dream for all Americans. It just is not possible to knowingly support the Democrat agenda and believe in a higher power who will judge us on how well we treated our fellow man, that is why the ones who are not ignorant are atheists and those who have true faith have a moral obligation to vote Republican.

    February 4, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. RP You shouldn't be defending Mitt

    Hi Ron Paul,

    I love you man, but this time you shouldn't be defending Mitt Romneys miss-speak.

    1. In his heart – Mitt wants to save the middle class, because they are the ones keeping guys like him afloat.
    The poor don't have any money to give to the rich. In a moment of candor Mitt blurted it out what he was thinking. Not very smart, was it. This is Mitts agenda. Get into the white house, save the middle class, and make more gazzilions so he can be the King of the world.

    2nd. In a moment of candor, Mitt is week. This is a major issue. A president can't make gaffes. America needs to put the smartest president out there. Mitt is not the smartest guy.

    Yes Ron Paul, you have a point. Off course, Mitt didn't mean to blurt this out. It was an accident. Poor are his concern. Poor are everyones concern. But RP what you failed to clarify is that Mitt had a poor choice of words, and that the nation of the free world can't make major gaffes like that. I on the other hand is the most qualified to be president. I am the president of all of the United States.

    Go Ron Paul, you are the smartest guy in the RepubliCON party.

    February 4, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Mittens admits that while the economy is improving, President Obama's policies made it happen more slowly than it should have. Of course, he's lying: Not only was the mess President Obama inherited HUGE, he was up against the GOP who publicly stated it wanted President Obama to fail and whose #1 goal was to make him a one-term president.

    Republican governors refused stimulus money and laid off public sector employees; Republicans in the House and Senate voted No on everything the President proposed; American companies sat on over $2 trillion in cash, refusing to take risks and invest.

    If Mittens' party – the GOP and the teabaggers – had actually tried to HELP instead of obstructing everything – then maybe, maybe the economic recovery would be progressing faster. Given how the GOP consistently puts party before country, though, I doubt that will ever happen.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    February 4, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. rodwick

    Ron Paul is the only candidate running that speaks the same dialect of English that I speak. I may not agree with him on many issues but at least there is a conversation taking place. The others speak legal and political ease. This language I also understand well and it is the language of manipulation, the language of liars. As the election approaches I with great difficulty attempt to select a path forward. Do I pick a crazy person I can understand and maybe work with or do I choose the failed path of those who voted before me and select the liar who speaks to my basal animal instincts.

    February 4, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Ron

    I would never vote for Romney. But his comment was taken out of context–not by the media, as some have suggested–the media has repeatedly put his whole statement out there. It has been taken out of context by his opponents, except for Ron Paul.

    February 4, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. RMKH

    Romney may have come off as cold towards the poor, but he is right. Even you occupy people don't realize that the 99% as you call it are not the "poor." We need to help the vast majority of the population (the 75% or the middle class) work with sustainable incomes because WE are the ones who provide the funds to pay for all of the social programs in place. I am in the middle class have a decent wage, but struggle to make ends meet. I see however other schools where 99% of the children get free breakfast and lunch, free after school care, free health care, and free school supplies. In the mean time, we pay for all of those things and don't qualify for those programs. As more and more people qualify for these programs the burdens on the people actually working becomes too great (as taxes and fees are raised) and of course there is a budget shortfall. Romney may be in the top 1% on the wealth side, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to help the economy and therefore the entire population as a whole.

    February 4, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. bobden

    If we have such a great safety net for the poor, why do we have so many homeless people (and families) in every city in this country?

    February 4, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Jeff

    Ron Paul is a good man. I don't know if it's doable, but I hope Romney choses Ron Paul as his VP (or visa versa) if it comes to that. We just need to get Obama out of there....he is socializing this nation. Need an example? You heard it from his lips..."spread the wealth".

    February 4, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Scott

    Bottom line is if you vote for any of these idiots who would be a laughing stock in other western democracies you deserve every darn thing that's coming and it won't be anything good unless your rich

    February 4, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    "Those that criticize Ron Paul are clearly individuals who don't understand economics. They probably can't define the word inflation. We can't keep printing and borrowing money, we are not going to pay back."

    Project much? Inflation is a requirement for any capital-based system to work. You obviously haven't done your homework or you'd know deflation is far worse.

    February 4, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. PK California

    He will not pick on the man he hopes will choose him as his VP !

    February 4, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. GJS

    Bravo Ron Paul. This should have been a nonissue from the beginning because anyone with half a brain, should have known what Mitt meant (and the media like to twist everything). People (including the media) cannot possibly be this stupid. I knew exactly what he meant and he is right. The poor DO have plenty of help..... free housing, free medical, food stamps, fuel help, food pantries, tons of charities and churches that help them. And the rich....well they are RICH so they do not NEED help. It is the middle class (especially those on the lower end) that have been hurt and really need help. They may make a few dollars too much to qualify for any help and they are the ones who have no "outs" when it comes to tax relief (the poor do not even pay taxes). So it is the middle class that needs relief the most. Unbelievable that this was ever twisted around!!

    February 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. jparker

    Of course Ron Paul thinks this. If he was president those so called saftey nets would all be elliminated. Obama 2012.

    February 4, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. kenny

    And that's why Dr. Paul will never be elected POTUS.

    February 4, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Ron Paul the Ralph Nader of the right wing .

    February 4, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. works4me

    Of the four of this circle of circus shows, he's the only one with any class, any style. Maybe that's because of his age. With age comes wisdom. Still, all in all, I still believe President Obama is the right choice.

    February 4, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. sunnygirl

    how is it the issue of romney focusing on the middles class plight has been ignored? he's the first republican to even mention that the middle class needs help.. personally.. i find that refreshing. the middle class is continually ignored while heavily taxed..it's nice to know someone is aware of it.

    February 4, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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