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Now, it's Romney facing a 'context' issue with firing remarks

January 09, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Mitt Romney visits his campaign headquarters in Manchester, N.H.
Mitt Romney visits his campaign headquarters in Manchester, N.H. (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)

Reporting from Manchester, N.H. — Mitt Romney may be getting a dose of his own medicine.

Just hours before the first votes are cast in New Hampshire's primary, the front-running Republican's campaign is in damage-control mode. At issue are comments Romney made while speaking to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce Monday morning.

Discussing healthcare, Romney said that allowing individuals to choose their own insurance companies would give them the flexibility to fire them if they didn't perform.

"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say, you know, I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me," Romney said.

Romney is facing an onslaught from independent groups attacking his experience at the private equity firm Bain Capital. With fresh ammunition Monday, Romney's rivals pounced, isolating the first seven words for what would be a damaging sound bite: "I like being able to fire people."

Speaking with reporters later, Romney said the comments were "taken out of context."

His campaign later issued a statement providing a fuller transcript of the discussion, as well as his comments to reporters on the matter.

It was just more than a month ago that Democrats were howling mad after the Romney campaign used comments from President Obama out of context in a TV ad that aired in New Hampshire on the same day he was set to visit.

Obama is heard saying: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

But here's the full quote, from an Obama stop in New Hampshire in the fall of 2008: "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

Romney's campaign did provide the full context of the quote in a news release, but it did not have such a disclaimer in the spot when it aired.

Still, Romney defended the ad at the time, saying there was "no hidden effort on the part of our campaign" and it was fair game.

"There's no question, the president’s campaign and the DNC, we obviously got under their skin," he said. "We're just going to take it to them day in and day out.”

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