Democrats Pounce on Romney's Comment About Firing People

By Susan Jones | January 10, 2012 | 8:38 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns at McKelvie Intermediate School in Bedford, N.H., Monday, Jan. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - Despite the bad blood between them, Newt Gingrich on Tuesday defended his rival Mitt Romney, saying Romney's comment that he enjoys firing people "absolutely" has been taken out of context.

But the head of the Democrat Party says Romney's remark is fair game.

On Monday, Romney was making the point that it's important for people to have a choice of health insurance plans:

"I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy.  It also means if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. If - if, you know, if someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say, you know, that I'm going to go get somebody else to provide that service to me. And so that's one thing I'd change."

Gingrich, asked about Romney's comment on Tuesday morning, told Fox & Friends that Democrats are taking it out of context:

"At the time, I couldn't imagine why anybody would have said what he was supposed to have said. It wasn't very well worded, and I think what he was trying to say was that consumers having the right to choose between competitors is dramatically better than a government monopoly controlling your life."

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Gingrich added that while Romney's sentiment "is exactly right," his wording "does raise one of the points about why I'd be a better candidate. I think I can debate better than he can," Gingrich said. "Imagine if he'd said that in a debate with Barack Obama -- what a mess that would have been."

Democrats are using Romney's own words against him in a new Web ad.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee, said on Tuesday that Romney "had the opportunity to be specific," but instead he "broadened it out and generalized and said that he likes firing people who provide services to him."

Schultz called it a "pattern of insensitivity and callousness that Mitt Romney has shown throughout his entire campaign."

Because Romney has made his private sector business experience a campaign issue, "we think it's important to show that what his experience really is, is dismantling companies, shipping jobs overseas, bankrupting companies deliberately, and talking about how he enjoys firing people."

Schulz added that firing people should not be an enjoyable experience for anyone, and Romney's comments show he's "really out of touch with the struggles of working families."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum said Romney was not articulate, "but it was pretty clear what he meant. I'm not going to play gotcha politics, I don't want people to play it on me and I'm not going to turn around and play it on anyone else," Santorum told Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning.

But one of Romney’s Republican rivals did seize on Romney’s comments Monday: “Gov. Romney enjoys firing people. I enjoy creating jobs," said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has made New Hampshire central to his campaign.