Mitt Romney was asked this morning about his claim last week that Democrats say shows he wants to eliminate jobs for firefighters, policemen and teachers.
Romney called it a “very strange accusation” and “completely absurd” in an interview on Fox News.
“Of course teachers and fireman and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said. “So obviously that is completely absurd, but he’s got a new idea though and that is to have another stimulus and to have the federal government to try and bail out cities and states. It didn’t work the first time. It certainly wouldn’t work the second time.”
Friday, Romney said of the president: ”He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?”
The Obama campaign immediately pounced on the statement saying it shows how much the presumptive GOP nominee is out of touch.
What the Romney campaign criticizes as a “second stimulus” is actually a legislative package that proposed infrastructure projects and state aid to hire teachers and first responders.
Asked again by reporters on the ropeline following a campaign event in Orlando whether his remarks about firefighters were taken out of context, Romney responded, “Sorry? I’m not going to talk about that.”
The Obama campaign responded to Romney’s refusal to answer the question calling it “his out-of-touch plan to grow the economy by slashing jobs for teachers, firefighters, and police officers.
“And that makes sense – the incident came after he made clear on FOX News he doesn’t even understand the critical resources the federal government provides to support the hard-working Americans who keep our streets safe and our kids educated. The reality is that Mitt Romney hasn’t learned the lessons of his deep cuts to first responders and teachers in Massachusetts – those policies helped drive the state down to 47th in job creation and 44th in economic growth. Romney Economics didn’t work for the middle class then and it won’t work now,” campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.
On Fox News, Romney also responded to the new report out Monday that the median home income in this country has fallen 39 percent in just three years, bringing Americans back to where they were in about 1992. He answered “the American people are facing really tough circumstances,” before citing examples from the campaign trail of couples trying to retire, but not financially being able to.
“Look, people are having hard times in this country and the president needs to go out and talk to people, not just do fundraisers go out and talk to people in the country and find out what’s happening,” Romney said.
President Obama will attend 6 fundraisers today that will bring in at least $3.6 million combined for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of Obama for America, Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties. With today’s events, Obama has attended a record-smashing 163 re-election fundraisers for his campaign and the Democratic Party. His predecessor George W. Bush attended 86 during the entirety of his first term. This campaign will swamp all others in fundraising on both sides, with the influence of superPACs, which do not have fundraising limits.
Last month the Romney campaign, along with the Republican National Committee, beat the Obama campaign in fundraising and Romney has been on a money swing himself. An event last night in Atlanta brought in three million dollars alone. Today he will hold another in the Orlando area after a campaign event while his wife, Ann fundraises in Baltimore.
The presumptive GOP nominee was also asked about comments the president made on Friday when he said “the private sector is doing fine” in a press conference at the White House. Obama later clarified his comments saying, “it’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine” and explaining that’s why he held the press conference.
Romney said the president has “had a number of very revealing comments that show just how far out of touch he is with what’s happening in the country.”
“Yesterday, he said among other things that he didn’t realize that Obamacare is having any impact on small business,” Romney told the hosts of Fox and Friends, then pointing to a survey done by the Chamber of Commerce that shows small businesses less likely to hire because of the president’s healthcare plan.
“Then of course his comments that the private sector is doing fine when at a time when you see the growth of economy below two percent for the first quarter and you have about 15 percent of Americans out of work or stopped looking for work or are underemployed,” Romney said, before again repeating the charge that keeps going back and forth between the two candidates, that the “president is really out of touch with what’s happening in America.”
Romney was asked about continuing attacks on his time at the investment firm he founded Bain Capital and whether that could actually help his campaign because so many high-profile Democrats have criticized the line of attack.
Romney answered that he thinks most Americans “understand that we have a free enterprise system and the right course for America is to encourage free enterprise and small business.”
“We want people to hire and the president has the most anti-business, anti-investment, anti-jobs administration I think I’ve ever seen and the people of this country want to see people who have private sector experience, who know what it takes to get the private sector hiring again, and Obamacare is one of the worst offenders in making it difficult for small businesses to go back to the business of hiring people and expanding.”
Romney then repeated the “out of touch” line of attack on his opponent that both sides have been pushing and will continue to.
“I think people recognize the president may be well-meaning, but he’s just out touch with what’s happening across the country,” Romney said.
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer and Emily Friedman contributed to this report.
This story has been updated since it was originally posted.