Mitt Romney is known for his sometimes awkward sense of humor, and some of his biggest campaign missteps have come when he has made statements that seemed out of touch with Americans' economic struggles.
During a tele-town hall meeting with Wisconsin voters Wednesday, those two issues converged.
At the outset of his 35-minute conference call, Romney told what he thought was a "humorous" story about how his father once shut down a factory in Michigan and moved production to Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
One of [the] most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors. ... They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.
Romney's anecdote was no doubt meant to appeal to the voters of Wisconsin, who were the beneficiaries of the factory shutdown, but joking about laying off workers is a risk during tough economic times.
In January, Romney came under fire from his opponents for saying, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom took to Twitter to say the controversy was overblown. "You know what's 'humorous'? Caterwauling from the Dems about Mitt's recall of a campaign story involving his dad. #fakeoutrage," he tweeted.
David Shepardson, the DC bureau chief of the Detroit News, noted on Twitter that George Romney's decision to "close the Hudson plants on Detroit's East Side in 1954 cos[t] 4,300 workers their jobs."
This story has been updated.