MANCHESTER, N.H. Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney tread on socially dangerous ground last night as he talked about the need to "hang" a misery index around the neck of Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.
Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.
Romney said: "You remember during the Ronald Reagan/Jimmy Carter debates? That Ronald Reagan came up with this great thing about the 'misery index,' and that he hung that around Jimmy Carter's neck, and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing. Well, we're going to have to hang the 'Obama Misery Index' around his neck. And, I'll tell you, the fact that you've got people in this country, really squeezed, with gasoline getting so expensive, with commodities getting so expensive, families are having a hard time making ends meet. So, we're going to have to talk about that, and housing foreclosures and bankruptcies and higher taxation. We're going to hang him uh, so to speak, metaphorically with, uh, with, uh you have to be careful these days, I've learned that, with an Obama Misery Index."
A video of the remarks posted on YouTube cuts off at, "you have to be careful," without the final 10 words.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.