In Context: Romney's comments on whether he cares for the very poor
By Bill Adair
Published on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 at 9:31 a.m.
This is part of our new "In Context" series, which provides the full transcript of controversial remarks so you can see them without editing.
O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a final question. And there's a poll that came out a few that says, understanding the needs of average Americans. And President Obama rates at 55 percent in this polling. You come in at 39 percent.
And the Conservative Writer, Kathleen Parker, wrote about, you know, it's that Romney can't connect with the people as has been - it isn't that Romney can't connect with the people has been pronounced repeatedly. It's that the people cannot connect with him. This also explains why the far less perfect Newt Gingrich can attract support against all reason. How do you fix that?
ROMNEY: You know, just let people get to know you better. The nice thing about what happened here in Florida is I got a chance to go across the state, meet with people. They heard what I am concerned about. They understand how I will be able to make things better.
I think people want someone who not just throws an incendiary bomb from time to time but someone who actually knows how it takes to improve their life, get home values rising again, to get jobs again in this country, and to make sure when soldiers come home they have a job waiting for them. And make sure people who are retired don't have to worry about what's going to happen at the end of the week.
This is a time people are worried. They're frightened. They want someone who they have confidence in. And I believe I will be able to instill that confidence in the American people. And, by the way, I'm in this race because I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it.
I'm not concerned about the very rich, they're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation.
O'BRIEN: All right. So I know I said last question, but I've got to ask you. You just said I'm not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net. And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say that sounds odd. Can you explain that?
ROMNEY: Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.
O'BRIEN: Got it. OK.
ROMNEY: The - the challenge right now - we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and - and there's no question, it's not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor.
But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans. My campaign - you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich. That's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor. That's not my focus.
My focus is on middle income Americans, retirees living on social security, people who cannot find work, folks who have kids that are getting ready to go to college. That - these are the people who've been most badly hurt during the Obama years.
We have a very ample safety net, and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor. But the middle income Americans, they're the folks that are really struggling right now, and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.
O'BRIEN: All right. Mitt Romney, congratulations to you on your big victory last night. Thanks for talking with us. appreciate it.
CNN, Transcript of Soledad O'Brien interview with Mitt Romney, Feb. 1, 2012
Researchers: Bill Adair
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