DES MOINES, Iowa - Mitt Romney jokingly said the United States needs to do a better job managing debt or it could end up like Greece, or closer to home, California.
The Republican presidential hopeful told an audience in Iowa that he worries the U.S. is on a pathway to crippling debt and is scaring off foreign investors. Romney pointed to problems in Italy and Spain.
He then suggested that Californians know a thing or two about debt.
The state is facing the prospect of tax increases and spending cuts to deal with its budget problems.
Romney aides say he's made the joke before and clearly was kidding.
California wasn't laughing. A spokesman for the state's Democratic governor dismissed Romney's quip as quote, "a paper-thin Republican talking point" that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.