01/24/2012 08:38 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2012

Mitt Romney: 'The Banks Aren't Bad People'

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney said corporations "are people too." Now, he says not only that banks are people, but they "aren't bad people."

The comment came Tuesday in Florida, which has the seventh-highest foreclosure rate in the country. "In this case, it's because of the banks," he said to a small group in front of a Fannie Mae-foreclosed home in the town of Lehigh Acres in the southwest part of the state. "Well, the banks aren't bad people. They're just overwhelmed right now."

The remarks echoed Romney's previous response to a heckler last August two days before the Ames Straw poll. "Corporations are people, my friend...of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend," he said.

It's part of a pattern of Romney making offhand remarks that make him sound out of touch with the nation's economic crisis, which he says he can fix.

"Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," he said in Las Vegas last October, which has the highest foreclosure rate of any metro area over 200,000 people according to RealtyTrac. Nevada leads the states among foreclosures.

"I'm also unemployed," he said to a group of unemployed people in June, also in Florida, which has jobless rates above the national average.

"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," said Romney in New Hampshire earlier this month as part of an answer on why he favored competition among health insurers. "If someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say I am going to get somebody else to provide that service to me." Romney later defended his remarks as being taken out of context; however, Romney himself took a quote of Obama out of context in an attack ad.

The remarks came on the same day that the former Massachusetts governor -- who has an estimated wealth between $190 million and $250 million -- released his tax returns, which showed that he and his wife paid a 13.9 percent effective rate on $21.7 million in 2010--much lower than most middle-class taxpayers due to their income entirely deriving from investments.