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. Jeanette

    What grow the safety nets for the poor when the wiser thing to do is stop the number of poor from increasing. That's the priority of a President Romney.

    February 4, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  2. GJS

    Mt. Man, you have got to be kidding. If you add up free housing, food stamps, WIC, food pantries, free health care, free meals, groceries, gifts for Christmas and Thanksgiving that charities give, welfare recipients are hardly getting only $12 a day. And of those that are "poor" I know of (I live in a small town), they chose and want to be that way....they have no interest in paying to take care of themselves. In fact, I know of one who has just switched from Welfare to Disability (because she will get more money) but if you think the disability money is going to go to actually take care of her, forget it, she is living with a boyfriend who's elderly mother (who barely makes any Social Security) takes care of them both. The woman on disability only spends the money on HERSELF!!! Again, in a small town, you get to see it all!!! It is the middle class that actually work and pay taxes that always suffer! The poor have a lot compared to anyone that is especially on the low end of middle class!!

    February 4, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Dianaa

    I really like Ron Paul, along with his integrity and composure. Most of all because he does not act like the other politicians who slam one another in their own party. Pierce Morgan on the other hand needs to keep his mouth shut long when he interviews someone to allow them to answer the question he asks. Over and over again, he kept interrupting Dr. Paul with almost every question he asked him a question.

    February 4, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. FastEddie

    Looking at comments here and in other political sites, you'd think 85% of voters were Ron Paul supporters. Yet, when it comes time to vote, Paul gets a pitiful 15%. What gives?

    February 4, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. Kerry

    I agree with Ron Paul, much ado about nothing. Talk about blowing something out of proportion, the news and talk shows are really good at that. They want to sensationalize for their own benefit.

    February 4, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  6. Patricia Williams

    Mitt didn't say he didn't care about the poor. He said they had a safety net.....and he's right. If you
    pass the government litmus test for poverty, you qualify for entitlements (or benefits) that will keep
    a roof over your head, food on your table, and basic medical care for you and your children. There
    are many churches and other charitable organizations that keep the guns manned too. They also
    help with rent, food and even clothing. They can also assist in obtaining medical care. The roof
    over your head won't be a MacMansion, and the food is definitely not from the kitchen of Julia Child.
    But you won't be sleeping on the street, and neither will your children.

    Then there are the people who are actually poor, but they don't meet the litmus test because they aren't
    quite poor enough. Some of them live in their own home, which is sadly in need of repairs they can't afford.
    It is not unusual for their electricity (or gas) to be disconnected. Some can't afford a telephone. Their diet
    is largely starches and fat. They need medications they cannot pay for. Consequently, their health may
    decline. They may have a car, but sometimes don't have the money for gas. The car needs repairs they
    cannot afford, and chances are they have no insurance. For these people there is no safety net. They
    are often referred to as lower middle class.

    February 4, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  7. Joe

    Ron Paul is a man of class and integrity. It's too bad the constitution doesn't live in the hearts of many Americans but as the government signs away your rights you will slowly see whats happening. The question is...will you care if your freedom is taken away or will you do something about it. The easiest way of course is start voting for people that supports your liberty so it doesn't have to come to an eventual head. History is a good predictor of the future, study it. Stop voting for people that signs the NDAA and the Patriot act, heck they may use NDAA against the occupy movement. I know some of you might like that but remember the right for assembly is a Constitutional right and to protest is a very American thing.

    February 4, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  8. M.A.

    You don't have a right to steal from someone who has more than you....and you don't have the right to theft from people have less than you do either!!!

    February 4, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. GonzoinHouston

    Ron Paul has a lot of bad ideas, but lying about them isn't one. He is completely upfront about what he believes and where he stands, and such honesty is breathtaking in a politician. I greatly respect the man for his honesty and integrity, but I think his policies would be disastrous for the nation.

    February 4, 2012 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    Ron Paul is a class act. I'm not on board with 100% of his ideas, but he sure does a great job presenting them. I am glad to see his broad support in this 2012 campaign, but Mitt Romney is the guy we need to nominate and elect.

    February 4, 2012 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  11. Steven Bannister

    The answer is NO, the poor should NOT be a president's priority. At all.

    There is ALREADY a huge system of safety nets in place. Where I live, the "poor" get free housing (Section 8) free food (EBT cards) free heat assistance (Pro-Cap) and a number of other benefits (a large number of people even collect SSDI for MULTIPLE children.) They may not live in penthouses, but the "poor" in America have a VERY reasonable standards of living.

    Mitt is right – it is ABSOLUTELY VITAL for the focus to be on the Middle Class, because if the Middle Class disappears then we EVERYONE will be poor except for the 1% at the top. Then the system WILL collapse and EVERYONE (including the poor) will suffer.

    February 4, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. Steven Bannister

    By the way – who gives more money (or a higher percentage of his income) to the poor: Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?

    That's your answer right there.

    February 4, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. chriss221

    Why should the poor be a priority? It's absurd. The poor need help, the poor need assistance, but the poor are poor... that is to say, they won't make a difference in helping stave off world hunger, or solving the oil problem, or helping in needy parts of the world... they can't help anyone... often even themselves. Uh. why not make middle class people who contribute the most a priority? Why, instead of taking the one "special needs" kid in class that will never really contribute, and giving them their own teacher - as they do in NYC schools - don't we single out the smartest, most-likely-to-save-the-world kid and give him or her their own teacher instead? I'm glad Rommney said it... I'm so sick of lower-then-normal getting perks while the cream goes stale.

    February 4, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. Uthor

    Ron Paul is an honest man, who says just what he thinks–and he says what he believes is right. You have have to wonder how this man has the courage to swim with these political sharks.

    February 4, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  15. BeverlyNC

    Romney meant exactly what he said. Why is there always daily "out of context" excuses for Romney's idiotic statements. He is not makiing mistakes, He is saying what he really believes and that is why he is not fit to represent America. The Republican Party overall are traitors to America. Their RNC chair just told Cand Crowley he was "rooting for economic failure"! Think Republicans care about We the People? About Jobs? About housing? About education? They care about power and will lie to you about everything to try to fool you into voting for these betrayers. NO more Republicans in 2012. They have destroyed America for long enough.

    February 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. Brad

    When the United States is hit with its next economic crisis, which will make the one in 2008 look like nothing, those who call Ron Paul a crazy old hag, will be sorry this man isn't ur president. In the next year or so, the US dollar will no longer be used as the global currency and the US will no longer be able to print out paper money to pay back loans on debt the US is having to pay back now. The value of the US dollar will drop significantly, the price of oil will double at the least, per gallon. The price of food will increase and there will be a lot of people wondering what happened to their savings. Countries outside the US will no longer accept the US dollar, making it worthless, and all the goods people enjoy buying from other countries will not be available to americans. The US is so anti coorporation, all the companies that create jobs will set up shop outside the US and people will camp out in large numbers, next to all the now-vacant homes banks have forclosed on because of our lawmakers have bankrupted our nation playing pity politics and profiting off the inside knowledge that the US economy is about to fail. Everyday food will be a luxury only the rich will be able to afford. My advice to you, invest in silver and gold or any other foreign currency before they slam the door on the US dollar. You all laugh at Ron Paul, about his position with regard to drastic cuts with regard to government spending, but the worst has yet to come.

    February 4, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  17. NickD2

    Well give Paul credit for not being a gotcha negative type campaigner. Of course he has his legions of internet warriors to do that for him. but at least he is on the high road most of the time.

    February 4, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  18. donf

    who ya gonna believe, me or your lying ears?

    February 4, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  19. sarah34

    To those who just don't get Ron Paul, I feel sorry for you. The statements about him being "dangerous" are ridiculous. His policy of looking at America's problems instead of fighting wars abroad that have nothing to do with us is exactly what we need in a president. Obama was supposed to be anti-war. "I'll have the troops out of Iraq within 6 months of getting elected!". How many people fell for that one? The only anti-war pro-America candidate is Ron Paul. To the idiot who said Ron Paul would let someone without insurance die, try doing your own thinking once in awhile instead of allowing the media to do your thinking for you. If you don't get it, don't speak lies.

    And yes, where are all the supporters come election day?

    February 4, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. ric

    to hear some of these comments its sounds like some people are somehow either envious or hateful of the poor..I went from making a ton of money to being on the cusp of poverty..and being poor sucks...at 50 I am trying to start a new career with no help and younger people looking at me like I am too old to hire...to be honest what they offer the poor is horrendous...I have free medical insurance but have to see uncaring doctors who dont even take time to check you out, just dispense pills, I was offered free training to learn how to do clerical work (I worked in finance for 15 years-dont need it), and was told that to get help paying rent I have to be 3 months behind in my rent with an eviction notice..The only thing that I found of interest was a class to learn how to become an assistant teacher.., but that ironically was only offered to ex convicts...No one here wants to be in my position..Please don't assume that all poor people are lazy..

    February 4, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. Texman

    I am sure that Romney has a kind of trickle down affinity for them ..... the tickle down being the part where he wizzes down their backs and tells them that it is raining.

    No problem with the poor (including the lower end of the US middle class) as long as the top 1 percent get to pay a 1 % effective income tax rate.

    February 4, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  22. Larry in Houston

    Well, I will Have to Say – since the Republicans couldn't come up with anybody but the current crop of GOP Clowns, and Ron Paul makes the most sense, and after seeing the interview with Piers Morgan with Ron Paul, he makes more sense that the rest of those Losers. I mean, the newter is nothing but an old "re-tread" – – It's like : what kind of tires would you rather have on your car ? a "re-tread" or a New Tire ? surely anybody with half a brain would figure that out.
    too bad the DNC couldn't come up with anybody –
    Vote Democrat 2012 – it's for the People in this country !!

    February 4, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. Larry in Houston

    At least Romney will have some New Ideas – compared to that old re-tread, and the one with enough baggage to sink 3 aircraft carriers, and the carnival cruise line. ( maybe the newter was on that ship that turned over on 1 side ) I mean, he could have been on the side that was sort of sunk in the water) since he's got all that "baggage" no pun intended.

    February 4, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  24. alfranken

    I think Mitt and Ron both understand that Mitt was making a generalization that the majority of the poor will always be poor and there just isn't anything we can do about it. Some could benefit and push themselves out with more progressive policies but that isn't what the GOP platform is about and both of them know that. So Ron is just trying to politically say that and the fact that Ron doesn't articulate it right just means he's not that good of a politician but a great man regardless. Definitively has the integrity go be a good leader but might get swallowed up much like Carter did.

    February 4, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. Larry in Houston

    If we get a republican in 2012 – Lord help us . You talk about Jobs huh ! lol if a repub gets In, you better believe they are going to push the driling, believe me. I mean, they will be drilling on every coast there is. Off the coast of calif / off the coast of north & south carolina – off the coast of Florida, AND there will be Plenty of Jobs in the Oil Business, especially in Alaska. especially since all the factories & manufacturing Jobs went to the 3rd world countries.


    February 4, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
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