NASHUA, N.H. - Mitt Romney, already under intense scrutiny for his leadership at venture capital group Bain, inadvertently gave his rivals new material today when he said that he likes "being able to fire people."
The remarks came during a speech to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce this morning in which he was trying to explain that he would like people to have the option to pick and choose their medical insurance and get rid of plans that don't meet their needs.
"I want individuals to have their own insurance," he said. "That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means 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 a good service that I need, I want to say I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me."
The comment comes a day after a remark he made Sunday in Rochester, N.H., when he said he has worried about getting fired.
"I know what it's like to worry about whether or not you are going to get fired," Romney said at the rally. "There are times when I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip."
Romney's opponents have already pounced on him for today's "firing comment," former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman remarking, "It's clear is he likes firing people, I like creating jobs."
President Obama's campaign press secretary, Ben LaBolt, simply re-tweeted the comments with his own addition, "!!!"
Romney grew visibly annoyed later during the same event when Julie Kushner, the regional director of United Auto Workers, interrupted him to ask about his position on the auto bailout, saying that the move by President Obama had saved "good paying jobs."
At one point asking Kushner, who was long-winded in her remarks, whether she even had a question, Romney became irritated when the woman continued to interrupt him.
"Excuse me, it's my turn to talk," he said.
"Question is how could you say those people from your state would have been better off under bankruptcy, once again number one auto company?" she questioned.
"The answer is this: bankruptcy is not going under and losing jobs. The president ultimately did what I suggested, going through a managed bankruptcy process," Romney replied. "And if you want to talk afterwards we can have a chat afterwards. But we went through, General Motors and Chrysler went through a managed bankruptcy exactly as I said - I think it was in November. It took the president five or six months to come around to that. That's what they had to do. Under my plan, General Motors would have shed its excess costs. The workers would have had their jobs."
When Kushner held an impromptu news conference after the event had finished, the Romney campaign instructed the individual operating the music to increase the volume to a decibel so loud, nobody could hear the woman speak.