DETROIT — It’s not just the media that won’t forget Mitt Romney saying in New Hampshire earlier this year that he likes “being able to fire people.”
The candidate revealed in a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan that the remark, which came during an address to the Nashua Chamber in Commerce in Nashua, N.H., in January, is one that has stuck with him — and haunted him — ever since.
Asked if the way his father, George Romney, saw a presidential bid end – with a verbal gaffe involving brainwashing in Vietnam — makes him a more rigid speaker, Romney says it does not. Instead, he said, it is his own flubs that frustrate him.
“I don’t think my father’s comment figures into my thinking at all,” he told Noonan, adding that his own mistakes make him want to “kick myself in the seat of my pants.”
“I’ve had a couple of those during the campaign, which have haunted me a little bit, but I’m sure before this is over will haunt me a lot,” said Romney, pointing to the firing comment.
Romney was trying to explain how he believes people should be able to pick and choose their medical insurance and should be able to get rid of the plans that don’t meet their needs.
“I want individuals to have their own insurance,” Romney said in New Hampshire. “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.”
“I have to think not only about what I say in a full sentence but what I say in a phrase,” Romney told Noonan.
The comment came at the same time as another Romney remark about worrying about receiving a pink slip. Democratic and Republican rivals seized on the series of comments to present an image of Romney that made him appear out of touch.
Romney told Noonan: “The media always says, ‘Gosh, we just want you to be spontaneous,’ but at the same time if you say anything in the wrong order, you’re gonna be sorry!”