Romney doesn't disavow $10,000 bet

December 11, 2011 - 9:01 PM
Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney signs autographs following a We the People Presidential Forum at the VFW Post, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

HUDSON, N.H. (AP) — Democrats and Republicans alike are accusing Mitt Romney of being out of touch after he said during Saturday's debate that he would make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry even as millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet in a troubled economy.

Romney didn't back away from the comment Sunday — but says he's been reminded he's not a good gambler.

"After the debate was over, Ann came up and gave me a kiss," Romney said, referring to his wife. "And she said, 'there are a lot of things you do well. Betting isn't one of them.'"

Romney's bet — for a sum that represents more than three months' salary for average Americans — has ignited a discussion about whether Romney, a wealthy businessman who is worth is estimated at more than $200 million, is out of step with the challenges facing the millions of struggling or unemployed Americans who are having trouble providing for their families amid an ailing economy.

"I would suggest to you that $10,000 is pocket change for Mitt," said Perry, the Texas governor, who was campaigning in Iowa on Sunday. "Having an extra $10,000 to throw down on a bet seems very out of the ordinary."

Democrats have seized on the remarks, eagerly pointing out just how much $10,000 can buy.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the remark "the most out-of-touch moment in any debate so far — offering to bet Rick Perry $10,000 as casually as if it's something he does all the time," she said in a statement.

When pressed about how, exactly, he came up with the $10,000 figure, Romney wouldn't say. "That's all I got," he said, laughing with the audience of supporters standing behind him.

Romney tried to make the bet with the Texas governor after Perry accused Romney of making changes to parts of his book, "No Apology."

"You've raised that before, Rick. And you're simply wrong," Romney said. Perry said it was true as Romney laughed and then said: "Rick, I'll, I'll tell you what. Ten thousand bucks? Ten thousand dollar bet?" He stuck his hand out to Perry, who wouldn't take it.