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Mitt Romney: 'Hang' President Obama With ‘Misery Index’

James Devaney/WireImage(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stumbled into controversial territory Friday night at a forum for potential presidential candidates in New Hampshire, suggesting that Republicans “hang” President Obama with a so-called “Misery Index.”

Romney, an all-but-declared presidential contender, was answering a question at an Americans For Prosperity event about what he would do to curb rising gas prices when he suddenly found his way into -- and then quickly out of -- the verbal gaffe.

“We’re going to hang the Obama Misery Index around his neck,” Romney told a crowd of conservative activists, before saying: “We’re going to hang him with that, so to speak.”

Apparently realizing his choice of words, Romney paused, and added “metaphorically.”

“You have to be careful these days,” he said.

Romney's reference to the “Misery Index,” was, as he acknowledged, a throwback to a term that then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan used to describe public discontent about economic conditions during debates with incumbent President Jimmy Carter during the 1980 election.

"It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he actually said," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told ABC News.

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