By Justin Sink
Newt Gingrich said last month that he was "surprised" that Romney held the position when asked about it during a New Hampshire town hall.
"I'm surprised because what it does is guarantees higher unemployment," Gingrich said. When his questioner offered video of Romney supporting the inflation-based minimum wage, Gingrich joked he'd "like that a lot."
But the increased focus on Romney's position Wednesday could help the Republican front-runner battle back on a stumble earlier in the day, when Romney told CNN that he is "not concerned about the very poor."
Later Wednesday, Romney defended his statement to reporters, arguing that his words were taken out of context.
"No no no no. No no. You've got to take the whole sentence, all right, as opposed to saying, and then change it just a little bit, because then it sounds very different. I've said throughout the campaign my focus, my concern, my energy is gonna be devoted to helping middle-income people, all right? We have a safety net for the poor, and if there are holes in it, I will work to repair that. And if there are people that are falling through the cracks I want to fix that," Romney said.
"Wealthy people are doing fine. But my focus in the campaign is on middle-income people. Of course I'm concerned about all Americans — poor, wealthy, middle class, but the focus of my effort will be on middle-income families who I think have been most hurt by the Obama economy."
But just in providing the soundbite, Romney played into the theme, cultivated by his political opponents, that his wealth has left him out of touch with most Americans.
New York State introduced legislation to raise its state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour Wednesday, although similar proposals in Congress have stalled after Republican leaders signaled their strong opposition to further increases.