FORT MYERS, Fla. — At an event designed to highlight President Obama’s failure to end the foreclosure crisis, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said banks that foreclose on homes aren’t “bad people.”

“Now, the banks aren’t bad people,” Romney said. “They’re just overwhelmed right now. They’re overwhelmed with a lot of things. One is a lot of homes coming in right now that are in foreclosure or in trouble and the other is with a massive new pile of regulations.”

(David Zalubowski/AP)

Romney’s meaning was clear—that the people who run banks are not bad people. But the comment was reminiscent of his remark over the summer that “corporations are people,” which Democrats have seized on to paint Romney as too friendly to the interests of big business.

The comment came during an event held in front of foreclosed house in a residential neighborhood in Fort Myers. He said the couple who owned the home both had jobs and had made their bank payments but were facing foreclosure through a bank mix-up.

“Banks are scared to death to write down the loans, for fear that it will make them go insolvent. At the very time we wanted banks to be more flexible and creative and help people stay in their homes, banks become less flexible, less creative, more insistent on foreclosure,” he said, blaming what he said was increased Washington regulation.

”But the the right course for America is to have a president who understands how to help our lending institutions be creative and find ways to keep people who meet their payments stay in their homes.”

The event also allowed him to press an attack against chief rival former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was paid $1.6 million to act as a consultant to Freddie Mac.

“You get paid, and then you go out and say things that influence other people. That’s the nature of what’s been going on in this country. It is wrong. We can’t have influence peddlers leading our party,” he said.