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After Florida win, Romney says he's ready for Obama fight

February 01, 2012|By John Hoeffel
  • Mitt Romney and wife Ann stand among supporters celebrating his win in the Florida GOP primary.
Mitt Romney and wife Ann stand among supporters celebrating his win in the… (Gerald Hebert / Associated…)

Reporting from Tampa, Fla. — Fresh off his resounding comeback victory in Florida, Mitt Romney insisted that a prolonged presidential primary campaign would not damage him with independent voters who will decide the election in November, but will steel him for a lacerating battle with President Obama.

As the advertising in Florida’s primary became overwhelmingly negative, Romney’s approval ratings declined sharply with swing voters, but he dismissed that as a concern when he made the rounds on the cable and television morning talk shows.

“What we’re getting now inoculates us, or at least prepares us, for what’ll come down the road,” Romney said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Barack Obama’s billion-dollar machine will organize the most vitriolic, spiteful campaign in American history. And we’re gonna have to be ready for that, be able to raise the money necessary to stand up against it and to push back very hard against a president who has quite clearly failed the American people.”

Romney also made a comment, like others he has made in the past, that gave Democrats one more quote they can employ in their attempts to demonstrate that his multimillion-dollar wealth has left him out of touch. Explaining to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that his campaign was aimed at middle-class Americans, Romney said, “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine.” (Watch video below.)

Obama-friendly organizations have already highlighted the quote, “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” and denounced it a “bluntly cold comment.”

O’Brien suggested to Romney that many very poor Americans who are struggling would find that statement odd. “I’m not concerned about the very poor that have the safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them,” Romney explained. “The middle-income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now.”

The former governor brushed off questions about Newt Gingrich’s election-night speech, in which he did not congratulate Romney and referred to him as “the Massachusetts moderate.”

“As has been said long ago, politics ain’t bean bags,” he told O’Brien. “He’s going to do it the way he thinks is best. I’ll do it the way I think is best.”

When O’Brien asked about his difficulty connecting with average Americans compared to President Obama and to the success Gingrich has had, particularly in debates, Romney replied, “I think people want someone who not just throws an incendiary bomb from time to time but someone who actually knows what it takes to improve their life.”

Romney said that he recognized the campaign “is going to be a long road,” assuming his competitors continue to campaign. Asked if there was anything that could disrupt his path to the nomination, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “I’m sure Speaker Gingrich and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have some ideas in mind, but I’m feeling pretty good.”

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