Did Romney's $10,000 Bet Hurt His Chances With Iowa Voters?

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

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By Jaime Sharer

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Political analysts say former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made a big mistake during a GOP debate in Des Moines Saturday night.

Romney was fielding attacks from Rick Perry over healthcare policy. In an effort to stop the criticism, Romney challenged Perry to a 10,000 dollar bet on Romney’s position on the individual mandate in the nation’s new health insurance law.

Experts say the comment makes Romney appear disconnected with middle-class Americans, other’s suggest the candidate was just trying to make a joke to change the subject. Either way the backlash could not come at a worse time for Romney. With the caucuses less than a month away, TV9 spoke with Iowa voters to get their reaction to the remarks.

“Just the fact that he would throw that out there shows how they’re not living in the real world of the tax payer,” said Bill Meeks of Cedar Rapids. “It’s kind of odd and a cavalier comment to throw out there jesting or otherwise.”

Romney came into Saturday’s debate already behind in the national polls and here in Iowa with Newt Gingrich pulling ahead in early primary states. People say the 10,000 dollar wager shows how out-of-touch the candidate is with everyday Americans.

"That's a large sum of money to talk about with people losing their jobs people struggling in this economy,” said Ellery Smith also from Cedar Rapids. “To them it's not a lot of money but to us...yeah, it is.”

The average median income in an Iowa household is around 50,000 dollars. Voters tell us candidates should never remind the public of their wealth. It might bankrupt their support with caucus-goers.

"I think it hurt him for the most part,” said Kurt Bachert from Cedar Rapids.

Bachert watched the entire televised debate on Saturday, including Romney’s so-called gaffe. He says the remark is definitely not going to impress Iowans, and Romney is already making up for short-falls with conservative voters concerned he is too left-leaning.

“Iowa's strong neck people around here. We'll give you one chance, maybe two if you need it,” said Bachert, “I don't think it's going to help him out at all."

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