Romney has broached the subject of the poor repeatedly on the campaign trail but until Wednesday had been more careful in his choice of words.
"I worry about the very poor and I want to make sure that our safety net is there," Romney said in New Hampshire in December, says the middle class are "the people I'm really concerned about right now."
Wednesday wasn't the first time that Romney, who made millions working in private equity, has been accused of insensitivity on matters of wealth. He once said "I like being able to fire people" when talking about having the ability to choose service providers. He also has declared that he knew what it was like to worry about being "pink-slipped" out of a job.
At a Las Vegas rally later Wednesday, Romney criticized the Obama administration's decision to announce that U.S. and other international forces in Afghanistan plan to end their combat role in 2013 and continue a training and advisory role with Afghan forces through the next year. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta laid out the administration position to reporters while traveling to a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels.
Romney said that announcing a withdrawal date aids America's enemies. "He announced that so the Taliban hears that, the Pakistanis hear it," Romney said, referring to Panetta's comments.
Romney went on to criticize Obama. "His naïveté is putting in jeopardy the United States of America and our commitments to freedom," Romney said. "He is wrong."
Associated Press writers Patrick Condon in Eagan, Minn., and Shannon McCaffrey in Reno, Nev., contributed to this report.
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