MANCHESTER, N. H. — Mitt Romney on Monday dismissed his offer to make a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry as merely "an outrageous number to answer an outrageous charge" — namely, Perry's claim that Romney made changes to parts of his book.
Romney told Fox News he made the bet offer in the weekend GOP presidential debate because of Perry's erroneous claim that he deleted parts of his book, "No Apology," that referred to Romney's support for a health care mandate. Romney said his bet offer was simply meaningless hyperbole.
"This was an outrageous number to answer an outrageous charge from him and it's been proven wrong time and time again," Romney said. "He keeps raising it and I said OK, let's put something outrageous out there. It's like saying, Hey, I'll bet you a million bucks."
The bet sparked charges that Romney, a wealthy businessman, is out of step with economic challenges facing ordinary Americans.
Romney said what the American people are tired of is President Barack Obama deflecting blame for his failed economic policies.
Romney also took aim at Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who has surged ahead of him in several polls. Romney said Gingrich should return the estimated $1.6 million he received for providing strategic advice to Freddie Mac, the quasi-government agency that guarantees home mortgages.
"One of the things that I think people recognize in Washington is that people go there to serve the people and then they stay there to serve themselves," Romney said.
Romney said the $1.6 million figure is much higher than the $300,000 figure Gingrich was asked about at a debate in Michigan in November. At the time, Gingrich said he acted as an historian and did not do any lobbying for Freddie Mac.
"That would make him the highest paid historian in history," Romney said.