CLEVELAND (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday acknowledged making a gaffe last week when he said the private sector was "doing fine," a remark that created instant fodder for his Republican opponents who painted the Democratic incumbent as being out of touch.
Obama, who is running against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the November 6 presidential election, started an economic speech in the political swing state of Ohio with a nod to his misstep at a White House news conference on Friday.
"Over the next five months, this election will take many twists and many turns. Polls will go up and polls will go down," he told an energized crowd at a community college.
"There will be no shortage of gaffes and controversies that keep both campaigns busy and give the press something to write about. You may have heard, I recently made my own unique contribution to that process," he said to laughter.
"It wasn't the first time. It won't be the last."
Obama tried to clarify his remarks by declaring at a later event that it was clear the U.S. economy was "not doing fine." But his initial comment had already taken off, eventually appearing in Republican campaign emails and ads, overshadowing the president's message at the press conference about the risks of the European debt crisis.
Romney himself has committed several gaffes during the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, including telling voters in economically struggling Michigan that his wife, Ann, drives two luxury Cadillacs.
Another time, the multimillionaire Romney was speaking about healthcare choices when he declared that he liked being able to fire people, a line that played into concerns about his record as a corporate executive. He also said in an interview that he wasn't "concerned about the very poor." Romney said those comments were taken out of context.
(Writing by Jeff Mason; Editing by Doina Chiacu)