Mitt Romney scrambled to do some damage control after he suggested it was time to "hang" President Obama in a speech in New Hampshire Friday night.
The former Massachusetts governor and probable 2012 presidential candidate was speaking at a dinner when he said in response to an attendee's question, "Reagan came up with this great thing about the 'misery index' and he hung that around Jimmy Carter's neck and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing. Well we're going to have to hang the 'Obama Misery Index' around his neck."
Romney went on to describe how people in the U.S. are suffering because of high fuel prices, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
"We're going to hang him with that," Romney said before catching himself and adding, "so to speak, metaphorically."
Seeming to know that he had just severely misspoke, Romney then added, "You have to be careful these days."
A Romney spokesman, Andrea Saul, said in an e-mail to CNN of any question over the comment, "It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he actually said. It's a ridiculous exaggeration of his actual comments."
Romney had a few other problematic moments in his speech, including a less-than-hysterical joke about Obama's birth certificate. Here's The Atlantic's Joshua Green:
Romney either chose to wing it or is simply rusty from not having been on the campaign trail. Though practically alone among the GOP candidates in not pandering to the fringes by questioning Obama's citizenship, he made the strange choice to open with a birther joke about how, when Obama released his birth certificate last week, "there was no one more disappointed than that amiable, know-it-all windbag--Joe Biden." Romney didn't have a bullet-point fantasy list of tax cuts to abolish, so instead he parceled out bits of his old stump speech with charges that Obama had no private-sector experience and is trying to "Europeanize" America.
Romney remains an exceptionally unnatural public speaker. To convey passion and excitement, he raises the pitch of his voice and imbues it with urgency. But it never quite clicks. His tone and affect are like that of an adult doing a dramatic reading of a pirate story to a wide-eyed three year old. It doesn't help that he speaks too quickly and often trips over his lines. At points during his speech, Romney seemed to slip into a frenzy and start madly free associating economic buzzwords.
"[Romney's] answer to the inevitable question about his Massachusetts health plan was about the best that could be expected: A smiling reference to all the controversy about it, a sincere defense of its goals, an avowal to never attempt such a thing on the federal level, ending with a pledge to grant every state a waiver from Obamacare on his first day in office. And when asked about high gasoline costs he offered a mini-lesson on how to tame the futures markets and bring down prices, suggesting there's some substance beneath his somewhat oily presentation."