SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mitt Romney appeared to make a reference today to the unemployed woman he gave a cash handout last weekend, but his staff — which initially confirmed that was who he referred to – later said the candidate was talking about someone else
“I spoke with a woman the other day who with tears running down her face said, ‘Can you find me a job, I’m looking for a job,’” said Romney at a rally this morning. “Nine point nine percent unemployment in South Carolina. It just breaks your heart to see what’s happening across the country.”
The reference sounded like Romney’s meeting with 55-year-old Ruth Williams, although he never mentioned her name. A campaign aide confirmed to ABC News that Romney was talking about Williams, which ABC News reported. The aide later retracted that statement.
Williams had been in tears the day she was given money by Romney in Sumter, S.C., over the weekend when Romney paused after an event to shake hands and give autographs to supporters. When Romney spotted Williams, who had been following him around for days, he reached into his wallet and retrieved several bills.
Williams explained to ABC News following the event how she had come to receive help from Romney and one of his top endorsers – South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who later said he gave Williams $150 to go toward her electric bill.
“I was on the highway praying and said, ‘God just show me how to get [my] lights on,’ and I pulled up to a stop sign and his bus was there,” said Williams, who has been unemployed since last October. “And then God said, ‘Follow the bus,’ and I followed the bus to the airport.”
According to Williams, she followed the campaign bus to the Columbia airport on Jan. 11, the same day Romney was arriving from New Hampshire. When Romney wasn’t on the bus, aides told her to go to the rally scheduled in Columbia later that day. When she showed up, Romney found her to say hello and pulled over South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to say “hello” too.
“He was kind to me and he made Gov. Haley come see about me,” Williams said. “He stopped doing everything.”
While Williams declined to specify how much cash Romney had handed her, the campaign estimated it was between $50 and $60.
Williams did not appear to be in attendance at today’s rally.