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If Romney Misspoke About 'Poor' Why Did He Later Repeat Statement?

(Revised at 2:19 pm ET)

In an interview Thursday, Mitt Romney said he "misspoke" when he infamously said earlier in the week that he was not concerned about the very poor because they had a safety net, and the very rich but, instead, was focused on the middle class.

Speaking of the CNN interview that has caused Romney a world of trouble, the Republican presidential frontrunner told Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun during an interview program called Face to Face:

"Jon, it was a misstatement. I misspoke. I've said something that is similar to that but quite acceptable for a long time. And you know when you do I don't know how many thousands of interviews now and then you may get it wrong. And I misspoke. Plain and simple." (Romney's speaks about his controversial statement at the 8:00 mark.)

That explanation would make more sense, however, if after his earlier comments caused a firestorm, Romney hadn't told the traveling press corps on his charter jet nearly the exact same thing he said to CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

In Romney's airborne attempt to clarify his remarks, he defended his earlier statement CNN statement, essentially repeating it. And he never said that he had earlier misspoken.

After Ralston asked him what he really meant to say, Romney said:

"What I said is that my focus, my primary focus, is on helping people get into the middle class and grow the middle class. That we have a safety net that cares for the poor. I want to keep that safety net strong and able. The wealthy are doing just fine. But we really need to focus on the middle-income people in this country.

"And you know what, if people are going to go after me when I make a mistake, whe I slip up on a word I say, even though I say 'I got it wrong. Sorry, that's not what I meant,' that's going to be part of the political process. I understand it and I accept the consequences."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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