Back in New Hampshire, Romney Strays From Debate Night Bet

(Jim Cole/AP Photo)

HUDSON, N.H. - Mitt Romney is not doubling down on his $10,000 bet.

Asked about the proposal he offered to Texas Gov. Rick Perry during Saturday night's debate - a $10,000 pay off if Romney proved he hadn't suggested a universal health care mandate would be suitable on a federal level in his book "No Apology" - Romney joked that his wife, Ann, was less than impressed with his bargaining skills.

"Actually after the debate was over Ann came up and gave me a kiss and said I was great and she said there are a lot of things you do well, betting isn't one of them," Romney said during a press conference after a town hall this afternoon in Hudson.

Pressed as to whether he regretted making the wager or whether it was the largest bet he's ever made, Romney responded, "That's all I've got," and laughed.

Perry, the man on the other side of the bargaining table, spent much of his time today campaigning across Iowa, discussing the bet at each stop. Perry dubbed Romney's bet as "out of touch," and also suggested that the $10,000 sum must be "pocket change" for Romney.

Romney referred to poll numbers - some showing him trailing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by double digits - as "fluid," adding that he's certain he'll be the nominee.

"These polls have bounced all over the place in the past year," Romney said. "I'm going to get the nomination, I can't tell you exactly which order I'll be able to pick up states in, but I'm convinced I'll be successful in this effort if I'm able to stay true to the things I believe and the message I deliver and provide it in a very compelling way and I hope to become the nominee. I think I will become the nominee."

Asked whether some of his outspoken surrogates - some of whom have referred to Gingrich as "untrustworthy" and as one Romney senior adviser put it, "the Foghorn Leghorn of politics," Romney said he wouldn't distance himself from the critiques but that he did not write the scripts for Gingrich's outspoken opponents.

"I do not, I will not distance myself from the comments of people who are describing their experience and their assessment of the speaker based on that experience," Romney said.

"I'd also note, however, that the most harsh criticisms of the speaker came not from people who've necessarily endorsed me, but people who haven't endorsed me, like Congressman Peter King, like Senator Tom Coburn," Romney added. "They have been very outspoken describing their own experiences."

King, a New York Republican, earlier today described Congress under Gingrich's leadership as "chaotic."

But a few of Romney's own statements during the town hall seemed to hint at the "Washington insider" label his campaign would like to see stick when it comes to Gingrich.

Asked whether he would like to see term limits, Romney said he would - for both Senators and members of Congress.

"The vision of this country I'm sure in the mind of the founders was that we would have citizens' legislatures. If you look at the great early leaders of this country and they went to Washington served and then went home. Wouldn't that be nice?" he said.

"It seems some people go to Washington to serve the people and then they stay to serve themselves," he said.

Romney said one of the reasons he is running for president is because he believes voters want "someone who comes from outside Washington."

"I'm not a creature of Washington," Romney said. "I haven't been in Washington as a politician, and I won't stay in Washington when my term is over," he said. "I will go home. I love Lake Winnipesaukee a lot better than I like Washington, I've gotta tell you."