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Romney’s ‘I Like Being Able To Fire People’ Comment Gets Rivals’ Attention

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Mitt Romney speaks during a Nashua Chamber of Commerce breakfast on January 9, 2012 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney speaks during a Nashua Chamber of Commerce breakfast on January 9, 2012 in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (CBS) — Mitt Romney knows words matter. Today he faced questions about his choice of words at a morning breakfast with business leaders.

Romney was asked what he would do to help lower the cost of health care. He responded saying he would like to allow people to buy individual health insurance, to help create competition and cut costs.

Then he went on to say, “I like being able to fire people.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports

Afterward Romney was asked about his words.

Romney said, “I believe in a setting where we can choose our own Doctor, if you don’t like your doctor or insurance company, you can get rid of em. That’s the way America works.”

When asked a follow up question, he said, “Things can always be taken out of context and I understand that is what the Obama people will do. 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 but we should not have to have one forced upon us by the President of Obamacare.”

When pressed further, Romney said, “If you think I should spend my entire campaign carefully choosing how everything I say relates to people as opposed to saying my own experience, that would make me a very different person than I am. I’m going to tell people my own experiences in life and I realize they’re not the same as everyone else I speak with but I’m going to tell you about myself.”

Romney knows words count. “I understand that in politics people will try to grasp at anything and take it out of context. That’s the process. I’ve got to be an adult about it and realize that goes with the territory.”

Today, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz released a statement to the media saying in part:

“In a shocking and apparent moment of true honesty, Mitt Romney said, ‘I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.’ That’s precisely the approach he took at Bain where his business model was to put profits over people.

Mitt Romney has been claiming he created 100,000 jobs at Bain, but as many of you have reported, not even the Romney campaign can substantiate this claim and conveniently ignores all the jobs he killed while he made millions as some companies were driven to bankruptcy, jobs were outsourced, and workers were either laid off or saw declining wages and benefits.”

At his final pre-primary rally Monday night, Mitt Romney couldn’t shake “Occupy” protesters who interrupted his Bedford rally at least three times.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

Romney, ever the practiced professional, used the conflict to take a shot at the president. He asked one of the female hecklers what her concern was, and he responded by telling her that President Obama is, “Spending more to campaign than any [president] in the history of America”.

The former Massachusetts Governor also had some surprise firepower on stage with him Monday evening. He brought along New Hampshire’s junior Senator Kelly Ayotte along with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who shared a spot with Romney on the short list to be John McCain’s Vice President just four years ago.

Romney waxed nostalgic about his family’s four decades of vacations to New Hampshire, telling the largely supportive crowd, “We love the state, we love the people of New Hampshire, we love the Yankee spirit of live free or die.”

But Romney’s beloved Granite State voters were well aware of his comments earlier in the day. He was talking about choices that citizens should have among health insurance companies, but critics said he ended up coming across as out of touch.

Even as Democrats pounced on the line as evidence that Romney’s business past was not terribly worker-friendly, his supporters are standing by him.

Jordan Dempsey is 19-years-old and plans to cast his first presidential primary ballot ever tomorrow for Mitt Romney. As for the ‘fire people’ comment, Dempsey says Romney has, “Definitely said some things in his years where he’s had to bite his tongue a little bit, but I feel like he’s always able to talk his way out of it. He seems to be a smooth talker.”

Romney did not mention the “firing comment” on stage Monday night. He just made a plea for votes Tuesday, and thanked his supporters, including a delegation of GOP lawmakers who made the trip up from Boston.

Among them was Republican State Representative Vinny Demacedo of Plymouth. Said Demacedo, “We just want to do whatever we can to try to help him and frankly help America.”

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson and Jim Armstrong contributed to this report.

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