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Mitt Romney: 'Fire people' remark taken out of context

January 09, 2012|By Maeve Reston
  • Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney speaks at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, N.H.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney speaks at Gilchrist Metal… (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty…)

Reporting from Hudson, N.H. — As Republican rivals pounced on a remark that New Hampshire front-runner Mitt Romney made this morning in Nashua about firing people who don’t provide the level of service he expects, Romney tried to clarify the context of his remarks at a news conference after an afternoon event at a metal fabrication plant.

While discussing his plans to improve health insurance coverage before members of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce this morning, Romney argued that health insurance companies have few incentives to offer better care because most Americans get healthcare from their employers and have little choice in their providers. Allowing individuals to choose their own insurance companies, he said, would give them the flexibility to fire them if they don’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 went on to say.

As opponents from Republican candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. to the Democratic National Committee seized upon the comment, pulling video of Romney’s phrase “I like being able to fire people” without providing the context, Romney said the attacks were to be expected.

“Things can always be taken out of context and I understand that that’s what the Obama people will do,” Romney told reporters in Hudson, N.H. “But as you know, I was speaking about insurance companies, and the need to be able to make a choice, and my comments entirely reflected that discussion, which is we should be able to choose the insurance company of our choice; we should not have to have one foisted upon us by the president and Obamacare.”

When a reporter noted that other Republicans like Huntsman and Gingrich were going after him – faulting him for downsizing companies at the private equity firm Bain Capital – Romney said he wasn’t worried about the attacks.

“As we’ll find out, free enterprise will be on trial. I thought it was going to come from the president, from the Democrats on the left, but instead it’s coming from Speaker Gingrich and apparently others,” Romney said. “I’m not worried about that. I’ve got broad shoulders and I’m happy to describe my experience in the private economy and the fact that if you take all of the businesses that we invested in over our many years, over 100 different businesses and collectively they, net-net, added over 100,000 new jobs.”

maeve.reston@latimes.com

Twitter: @maevereston

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