Many have commented that Mitt Romney's strength as a candidate for president is not his performance in sit-down interviews. This inability was on display during his interview with CNN's Soledad O'Brien last week. Romney has received much criticism for saying in the interview that he was "not concerned about the very poor."
Those six words have added to the image held by some that Romney is out of touch with the plight of the middle-class and those in poverty. However, the rest of Romney's much maligned sentence makes clear that the former Massachusetts governor was not advocating a policy that would explicitly leave out Americans in the most dire financial need.
"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," Romney said Wednesday.
In an appearance with Sean Hannity Thursday, Romney said he "misspoke" and clarified that he is worried about all Americans.
Fareed Zakaria came to Romney's defense during his show on CNN Sunday, criticizing those in the media who have lambasted the Republican candidate for president over a comment that has been taken completely out of context:
"What I noticed though, we talk about the gaffes in the debates and the campaign. The one gaffe, Romney has this new gaffe of, you know, the comment about the poor. I feel as though in some ways the guy can’t get a break because if you look at the previous gaffe where he talked about 'I like to fire people,' he wasn’t talking about firing people. He was talking about firing insurance companies, and that’s absolutely clear.
And here he says, 'I’m not so concerned about the poor, they have a safety net, if it has holes I’ll repair it.' I feel as though the media here have sort of said, 'Yes, yes, but if we take this entirely out of context, it really sounds like he’s being very mean to the poor.' It just feels like, 'Yeah, but you just took it entirely out of context.'"
Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters notes that while Zakaria's analysis may be refreshing to conservatives, he could do one better by calling out his colleagues at CNN who first negatively suggested that Romney meant to say he wasn't "concerned about the very poor."
"Interesting observation considering the anchor in the middle of this firestorm, CNN's Soledad O'Brien, received congratulations for her interview from two different CNN contributors on the air with one actually giving her a high five.
While Zakaria was pointing out the hypocrisy here, he might have scolded folks on his own network for their part in not only taking Romney 'entirely out of context,' but also spreading the misinformation as far as they possibly could."