Mitt Romney said Monday in New Hampshire that he likes being able to fire people who provide services to him, adding another soundbite that can be used in attack ads his GOP opponents and Democrats are using to paint him as a rich capitalist out of touch with American voters.
Romney has been having a hard time getting Republican primary voters excited about his presidential candidacy, and the comments about firing people will likely just further complicate that effort.
During Romney's time at Bain Capital, the company was known for slashing jobs at companies it restructured -- including giants like Lowe's and Staples -- though often the companies later rehired workers in what were usually lower-paying posts.
The remarks came during a Monday breakfast address before the Nashua Chamber of Commerce during which Romney spoke about health care reform.
Here are his remarks on the topic in full, providing all the context of the related issue:
I want people to be able to own their own insurance if they wish to. And to buy it for themselves and perhaps keep it the rest of their life and to choose among different policies offered from companies across the nation, he told the Nashua Chamber. I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me the good service I need I want to say 'You know, I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.' So, that's one thing I would change.
The fact that he used the words I like being able to fire people who provide services to me probably won't move any independent, unemployed voters into the Mitt Romney 2012 camp, pundits are saying.
The remark immediately provided campaign fodder to Romney's Republican rivals a day before the New Hampshire primary, and Democrats began circulating video clips of it. Romney later accused political opponents of taking his remark out of context, wrote the Washington Post's Philip Rucker on Monday.
Matt Viser, of the Boston Globe, went on to explain how the comments may exacerbate the perception of him as a rich executive.
Mitt Romney, who has been under assault from his political rivals for his business background, came here today to tout his early 'entry level' job trying to work his way up through consulting firms, Viser wrote on Monday. But it was a comment he made in the final minutes--'I like being able to fire people'--that is sure to provide further ammunition for his opponents to cast him as a wealthy, out-of-touch executive.