The Washington Times - December 11, 2011, 01:52PM

“Maybe you’ve sat around with your friends before. You bet an argument and you say, ‘Oh I bet you million dollars….’,” said Erich Fehrnstrom, Romney campaign adviser to reporters on Saturday after the GOP presidential candidates debated at Drake University in Des Moines.

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Fehrnstrom defended former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s $10,000 wager remark to Rick Perry over a passage in Mr. Romney’s book regarding the Massachusetts health care plan authored by Mr. Romney. Perry cited the passage as saying that Mr. Romney advocated that MassCare become the model for a federal health care law. Romney called the allegation false. 

“Usually the sum of the bet depends on how strongly you feel about the rightness of your position,” Fehrnstrom noted.

Ferhnstrom said that “fact checking organizations” show that Romney was right in this case. “So, when Mitt Romney made that bet,” Fehrnstrom explained, “he did so knowing Rick Perry wouldn’t take it. And by backing down, Rick Perry looked weak.”

The book passage Perry cited was removed in a later edition of the Romney book. Politifact rates Perry’s claim “mostly false.”

However, Perry later told Sunday shows that the fact Governor Romney made a $10,000 bet showed how “out of touch” Mr. Romney is.

Mr. Fehrnstrom spoke with media after the Iowa debate in Des Moines at Drake University on Saturday night and responded to my questions regarding former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich saying that Mr. Romney would have been a “career politician” if he had not lost to Senator Ted Kennedy in the 1994 U.S. Senate race.

“I thought Governor Romney did a good job responding himself, when he said, as a young boy, [he wanted] to go to the NFL, but he didn’t do that either. He went into business instead. We don’t live in some parallel universe. There’s not some alternative reality where Mitt Romney won that election and became some career politician,” Fehrnstrom pointed out.

“I was in Massachusetts in 1994 when Mitt Romney took on Ted Kennedy and very few people were willing to step up and challenge his failed liberal social programs of the sixties. Mitt Romney did that. He ran his campaign based on getting tough on taxes, getting tough on welfare, and the rampant crime that was occurring as partly a result of these failed social programs. That’s what Mitt did,” Fehrnstrom said. 

Fehrnstrom reminded reporters that Mr. Gingrich was a big supporter of Romney in 1994, when the Massachusetts Republican ran for senate.

“In fact, Newt Gingrich came to the convention and spoke at that same convention and endorsed Mitt Romney for U.S. Senate in 1994. So this mythology that has grown up that somehow he was running to the left of Ted Kennedy is just absolutely ridiculous.”

“He was denounced by the DNC as an extreme right-winger. Mitt was running because he believed someone needed to stand up to Ted Kennedy and his flawed view of liberalism and what it has done to America. And he may not have won that election, but he forced Ted Kennedy to take out a mortgage on his house to keep his seat,” Fehrnstrom said.