"I misspoke -- I wish I wouldn't have said it that way," the former Massachusetts governor told Fox News Channel Thursday, a day after telling CNN, "I'm not concerned about the very poor" because they have a social safety net to prevent them from falling below a certain poverty level.
"I made the same thought part of my speeches over the last year or two, which is that I'm really concerned about middle-income Americans. I want to help middle-income Americans. I want to get people out of poverty into the middle-income category," Romney told Fox.
"But of course I'm concerned and worried about all Americans," Romney said. "And I want to make sure our safety net is appropriately able to care for our poor. I'm concerned about all citizens, but now and then you misspeak. You have to acknowledge it. It was something I did not intend to say in the way it was said, but I recognize that's part of the political process."
He told KSNV-TV, Las Vegas, he had made "a misstatement -- I misspoke."
"When you do -- I don't know -- how many thousands of interviews, now and then, you may get it wrong," Romney said. "And I misspoke, plain and simple."
On Wednesday he told CNN: "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. I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans right now who are struggling and I'll continue to take that message across the nation."
Romney, whose net worth is estimated at more than $200 million, cited food stamps, housing vouchers and other benefits in explaining his comment on concern for the poor.
Romney shared a Las Vegas stage Thursday with billionaire Donald Trump, who endorsed the GOP front-runner ahead of Saturday's Nevada caucuses.
"Mitt is tough, he's smart, he's sharp, he's not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love," Trump said flanked by American flags in a marble-floored lounge in the lobby of the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
"So, Gov. Romney, go out and get 'em. You can do it," Trump said.
As late as Wednesday evening, aides to rival GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich were saying he had won Trump's backing.
But Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker and Romney's top rival, told reporters in Reno, Nev., Wednesday he was unaware of Trump's plans.
"They put that out. You know that, right?" Trump said Thursday of the false Gingrich-endorsement reports. "I like him very much and, you know, who knows? They wanted the endorsement."
Senior Gingrich adviser Bob Walker told The Wall Street Journal he knew of no contact between the Gingrich campaign and the Trump organization that would have caused the false endorsement rumor.
Trump -- a real estate mogul, reality TV star and on-again, off-again presidential hopeful -- pledged Thursday not to run as a third-party candidate if Romney wins the GOP nomination in August.
Gingrich, campaigning in Las Vegas, continued to press on Romney's comment about the poor.
"There are some very big differences both between me and Gov. Romney and me and Barack Obama," he said. "I really believe we should care about the very poor, unlike Gov. Romney, but I believe we should care differently than Barack Obama."
Obama told the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington his social and economic policies were informed by his Christian faith.
He spoke about families "struggling to find work or make the mortgage, pay for college, or, in some cases, even to buy food."
"The Bible teaches us to 'be doers of the word and not merely hearers,'" he said. "We're required to have a living, breathing, active faith in our own lives. And each of us is called on to give something of ourselves for the betterment of others."
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