HUDSON, NH -- On the campaign trail, Mitt Romney talks a lot about jobs.
But never before have so many questions and attacks been directed at his jobs -- especially which one of them he once feared he might lose.
Yesterday, as he described his private-sector experience during a campaign event in Rochester, NH, Romney said he knew what it was like to fear losing his job.
"I've learned what it's like to sign the front of a paycheck not just the back of a paycheck. And to know how frightening it is to see if you can make payroll at the end of the week. These are experiences that many of you know," he said. "I know what it's like to worry about whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered if I was going to get a pink slip. And I care very deeply about the American people."
Romney, who's rise to fortune and prominence at Bain Capital has been well documented, provided no examples at the time of when he feared for his job, and was asked to do so at a press avail this morning.
"Oh sure, as you probably know in your profession, you never quite know about what’s going to happen. And I think people imagine that I came in at the top of Bain and Company, the consulting firm. The Boston Consulting group, I started at the bottom," Romney said. "I came out of school and got an entry-level position like the other people with freshly minted MBAs. And like anybody who starts at the bottom of an enterprise, you wonder when you don’t do so well whether you’re going to be able to hang on to your job, and you wonder if the enterprise gets in trouble will you be one of those laid off."
(Yet as the New York Times recounted last month, Romney was no ordinary MBA grad. He was a superlative student at Harvard Business School, and his father -- a former presidential candidate -- was Nixon's HUD secretary. "His class performances were outstanding; his peers described him as precise, convincing and charismatic. He won the high grades he craved, becoming a George F. Baker Scholar, a distinction awarded to the top students in every business class, and would graduate from the law school with honors as well.")
But while Romney defended the comment, both Democrats and his Republican rivals had a field day with it, hoping to paint Romney and Bain as corporate raiders, and Romney as out of touch.
"I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips, whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out -- because his company Bain Capital and all the jobs that they killed," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in South Carolina today. "I'm sure he was worried that he would run out of pink slips."
A Romney spokesperson called Perry's attack "desperate," and said it showed he was talking about a subject he did not understand
"We expect attacks on free enterprise from President Obama and his allies on the left – not from so-called ‘fiscal conservatives,’" campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said in a statement.
Not to be outdone, one of President Obama's top "allies on the left," released a statement today mocking Romney's remark.
"Romney’s absurd rhetoric is inconsistent with the facts surrounding his own situation and insensitive to the thousands of American who lost their jobs so Romney could extract millions for himself," read a statement from Priorities Action USA.