You have to wonder just what Mitt Romney was thinking this morning when he told CNN host Soledad O’Brien that he’s “not concerned about the very poor” because, he said, they’re protected by “a safety net.”

Romney was, by all appearances, trying to portray himself as a champion of the middle class — “the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling,” as he put it. And, to be fair, he also said he’s “not concerned about the very rich.” But the statement still, O’Brien pointed out, might sound “odd” to poor Americans who are also struggling.

“Finish the sentence, Soledad,” Romney responded. “I said I’m not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net. But if it has holes in it, I will repair them.”

“We will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor,” he said. “And there’s no question it’s not good being poor and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused on middle income Americans…We have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor.”

Romney’s comments recalled another puzzling remark he made on NBC last month, when he told Matt Laurer that any questions about Wall Street and economic inequality were driven by “the politics of envy.”