Republican front-runner Mitt Romney told CNN in an interview Thursday the “very poor, that’s not my focus,” a remark that Democrats could invoke in their attempt to cast him as a wealthy candidate who is out of touch with average Americans.
“I”m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it…. I’m not concerned about the very rich. I”m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who are right now struggling,” said in an interview on “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien a day after he won the critical Florida primary.
He added, “you can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus.”
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His terms aside, it’s not clear exactly what Romney meant by “poor” or “very poor.” According to data released by the federal government last year, 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line, including 27 percent of blacks.
In his campaign, Romney is calling for reducing taxes for millions of Americans, although independent analysts have showed most of the benefits of his proposals would go to wealthy Americans. The former governor is also seeking to drastically cut federal spending to reduce the budget deficit, but has not yet detailed what he would cut.
The remark and sentiment by Romney was not new. He has long argued the poor have a safety through Medicaid, food stamps and other programs and the middle class is the target of his policies.
“I’ve said throughout the campaign my focus, my concern, my energy is gonna be devoted to helping middle income people, all right,” the candidate said on his plane Wednesday, after his earlier comment created some controversy. “We have a safety net for the poor, and if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that. And if there are people that are falling through the cracks, I want to fix that.