After listening to a group of unemployed Floridians in a coffee shop on Thursday, the former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire joked, "I should also tell my story. I'm also unemployed."
Democrats were quick to pounce on it.
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, issued a statement saying Romney's comments were "inappropriate and insensitive to the millions of Americans looking for work."
"This comment shows that Mitt Romney - a man who wants for nothing and whose only occupation for more than four years has been to run for president - is incredibly out of touch with what's going on in our country and around the dinner tables of those who are out of work," she said. "Being unemployed, Mr. Romney, is not a joke."
At a later stop, Romney tried to clarify what he meant, saying his humor was aimed only at himself.
"I'll always make light of myself, and self-deprecating humor is part of who I am. The reality is that we have a president who doesn't understand the plight of the unemployed," Romney said.
Political analysts say Romney is the front runner for the Republican nomination.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.