VOTE 2012

Mitt Romney $10,000 bet fallout features criticism from both sides

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HUDSON, N.H. (AP) — Democrats and Republicans alike are accusing Mitt Romney of being out of touch after he said during this weekend'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 has faced widespread criticism after his $10,000 bet proposal on Saturday night. (Photo: Associated Press)

Romney shrugged off 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 two months' salary for Americans with mid-range incomes —has ignited a discussion about whether Romney, a wealthy businessman whose 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 in 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.

The remark is likely to become an issue in a general election campaign that President Barack Obama has begun to define as a fundamental philosophical struggle between fighting for shared sacrifice and curtailing government to let people fend for themselves.

"Their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules," Obama said of the GOP at a major speech in Osawatomie, Kan., last week, invoking former President Teddy Roosevelt. "I'm here to say they are wrong."

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