"I know these are tough times," Romney told hundreds who gathered here to see the front-runner in the Republican nomination race. "I've learned what it's like to sign the front of a paycheck, not just the back of a paycheck. And to know how frightening it is to see if you can make payroll at the end of the week. These are experiences that many of you know."
Romney went on to say that he personally had experienced the same anxiety many Americans have over losing their jobs. "I know what it's like to worry about whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered if I was going to get a pink slip," Romney said, but he didn't elaborate.
After Romney's comment, his spokeswoman Andrea Saul issued a statement: "Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has spent 25 years in the real-world economy. As a young person just out of college, he worked his way up the career ladder knowing that his continued employment was by no means guaranteed. That's the way it is in the private sector."
The ex-Bay State governor made his remarks after Gingrich's latest swipes at Romney for making his fortune at Bain Capital. Romney, who is worth between $190 million and $250 million, is accused by his opponent of profiting at the expense of tens of thousands of jobs, lost when Bain restructured companies it was hired to turn around.
In this morning's NBC News/Facebook debate in Concord, Gingrich cited multiple media outlets that have written about Romney's record at Bain. "If you look at The New York Times' article, I think it was on Thursday, you would clearly have to say that Bain, at times, engaged in behavior where they looted a company, leaving behind 1,700 unemployed people," said Gingrich.
A super PAC allied with Gingrich, Winning Our Future, put up a video that echoes the theme. "To Romney and Bain Capital it was just another deal. To others, it was a pit of despair," a narrator says in the video, which is a trailer to a short film that is not posted yet.
Romney was joined at Sunday's rally by former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, a former competitor with a blue-collar background that he emphasized in a book and on the campaign trail before he dropped out. He comes from South St. Paul, Minn., which he calls "a meat-packing town." His father was a truck driver and he was the first in his family to attend college. Romney's father, George Romney, was CEO of American Motors and governor of Michigan.