Romney tries to explain remark about "very poor"

As the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination moved from Florida to Nevada, frontrunner Mitt Romney tripped over his own tongue.

It was a day he should have been celebrating his landslide victory in the Florida primary, but instead, Romney made an unforced error in one of his seven morning television show appearances, and spent the day cleaning it up.

"I'm not concerned about the very poor," he said. "We have a safety net there. If it needs a 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 America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling."

Romney makes that point often on the campaign trail. But the way he said it and when -- during an interview on national television just a day after his victory in Florida -- caused it to take off like wildfire, and Romney had to spend the rest of Wednesday clarifying what he had said.

Romney says he's "not concerned about the very poor" because of safety net
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"Sometimes things don't come out exactly the way you'd like them to," he explained. "That's not exactly what I meant to say. My focus is on middle income Americans. We do have a safety net for the very poor, and I said if there are holes in it I want to correct that."

Opponents on the left jumped on it, saying it shows Romney is out of touch.

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh noticed, as well. "Everyone knows what he was trying to say," Limbaugh observed, "but he didn't say it. He makes himself a target with this stuff. He comes across at the prototypical rich Republican. ... It's gonna make it harder and harder and harder to go after Obama."

Romney's comments also gave an opening for his Republican opponents to attack.

Newt Gingrich said he is "fed up with politicians in either party dividing Americans against each other. I am running to be thepresident of all of the American people, and I am concerned about all of the American people."

To see Jan Crawford's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Jan Crawford On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

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