Mitt Romney opened himself up to criticism Friday by saying he didn't understand Medicaid until he started working in government. The Republican presidential candidate later tried to clarify the comment, but Democrats had already pounced, saying his words were further proof that the multimillionaire businessman is out of touch.
"You wonder what Medicaid is, those that aren't into all this government stuff. You know, I have to admit. I didn't know all the differences between these things before I got into government," Romney told voters at a campaign event. "Then I got into it and understood that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large."
Medicaid is a federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled.
Romney tried later to clarify what he meant, telling reporters traveling with him to South Carolina that he understood the program but didn't quite grasp how it was funded. He called his earlier comment a "self-deprecating understatement."
Democrats said the comment showed Romney doesn't understand working-class people.
"One has to wonder how Mitt Romney thinks he can represent American workers, their families and seniors when his concern for the poor and the middle class comes across like an afterthought," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
Romney, who was in his late 40s when he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 1994, told reporters that his prior work for a health care consulting company taught him how important Medicaid and Medicare, a health care program for seniors, are to hospitals.