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As Dems Pounce, Romney Tries to Explain ‘Entitlement’ Comments

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(GREENVILLE, S.C.) -- Aboard a charter campaign flight with a gaggle of reporters, Mitt Romney tried to clarify remarks he’d made earlier Friday that seemed to suggest he didn’t fully understand the differences between health care entitlement programs, saying he’d exaggerated.

At a steel mill in Sioux City, Iowa, Friday morning, Romney was discussing publicly supported health insurance programs when he said, “You wonder what Medicaid is, those that are not in 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 said. “And then I got into it and understand that Medicaid is the health care program for the poor, by and large.”

The Democratic National Committee pounced immediately, using Romney’s remarks to try to suggest, again, that  he is out of touch with middle-class Americans.

“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,” said DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a written statement.

But hours after the event, Romney tried to explain what he’d meant to reporters, saying that his comment was a self-deprecating attempt intended to poke fun. He said that while he may not have known the “intricacies” that made the programs different, he did understand their contrasting purposes: Medicare is a government health program for the elderly, while Medicaid is a health care program for the poor.

Romney also highlighted his previous experience working for health care consulting firms.

Romney’s campaign spokeswoman added that Friday’s attacks were the “latest chapter in the ‘kill Mitt Romney’ series.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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