Mitt Romney became testy on Wednesday when discussing his appeal to lower-income voters, quibbling with Fox News' Megyn Kelly after she said he is struggling with voters who make less than $100,000 per year.
"No, no, no, no -- we don't win a million more votes than anyone else in this race by just appealing to high-income Americans," he said. "I've been able to have support ... from Tea Party supporters, men and women ... those aren't all wealthy people."
Romney, a multi-millionaire, consistently performs better among voters who make more than $100,000 per year than voters in lower income brackets. His personal wealth has caused some awkward moments, including two recent mentions of his friends who own NASCAR and NFL teams -- not something the average American can relate to, as Kelly pointed out. Failing to connect with voters "has been a recurring theme" for Romney, she said.
He responded that the Democratic National Committee is attempting to make an issue of his wealth, but that voters would rather have a candidate that knows the economy, including someone successful who can help them to get there.
"Megyn, guess what. I made a lot of money, I've been very successful. I'm not going to apologize for that," he said.
Romney made a jab at his opponents -- Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, all of whom served in Congress -- by saying only he has real-world experience with the economy.
"I understand the economy not because I've debated the economy in a subcommittee of congress, I understand the economy because I've lived it," he said.
But Romney otherwise was soft on Gingrich, even after Kelly pointed out that the former House speaker said the evening before that his goal was to take out Romney by staying in the race. Romney said it was not his place to tell another candidate when to drop out.
"I sure hope that those quotes that you described are not accurate, because Newt and his wife are friends, and I hope that what we're focusing on is the country and who can do the best job," Romney said.
The most contentious moment came at the end of the interview, when Fox News played a clip of Romney saying "I like mandates" during the 2008 campaign. Kelly pointed out that statement, coupled with his health care law in Massachusetts, can be read as indicating that he agrees with the president's health care plan.
"People have looked at this topic 100 times, more than 100 times, I have agreed that a state should be allowed, if it wants to, to have a health care mandate," he said, sounding annoyed. "Time and again I've pointed out I'm not in favor of a health care plan that included a national mandate."
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