UPDATE: He was for rolling down airplane windows before he was against it.
Mitt Romney gave the Internet -- and Rachel Maddow -- a chuckle Monday after post-fundraiser comments that appeared to show the candidate has a tenuous grasp on the physics of flight.
But after Mitt Romney was quoted as saying that airplane windows "don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that," a campaign pool reporter says the candidate was joking.
Ashley Parker, a New York Times reporter who filed on the comments, tells New York magazine that "it was clear from the context that he was not being serious."
Never mind Romney's general track record with humor, as Tim Stanley writes in The Telegraph: "It's worth noting that Romney has a habit of throw away lines that suggest a barbed sense of humour that no one else quite gets."
PREVIOUSLY: Making post-fundraiser comments this weekend, presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed a tenuous grip on the science of aviation, despite the fact that he and his wife, Ann, have been flying around the country this summer on the campaign trail.
After his wife's plane was forced to make an emergency landing this weekend, Romney told the Los Angeles Times, he was worried for her safety. The candidate then continued on a bizarre tangent that showed just how little the Republican nominee understands about flight.
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney told the paper. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly."
Romney said the biggest problem in a distressed aircraft is that "the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous."
The main reason airplane windows don't open is because there isn't enough oxygen at cruising altitude to keep passengers alive. (The fear of window or cabin failures, which would lead to potentially fatal hypoxia, is why many planes are equipped with emergency oxygen masks.)
"You can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open," Romney told the Times, suggesting that additional oxygen in the cabin during the electrical malfunction could've alleviated the problem. In fact, if there were an electrical fire on board, additional oxygen would have fed the flames.
Strangely, Romney seemed to acknowledge the importance of oxygen later in his comments. "Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver," he said.
Hypoxia aboard aircraft has led to many fatalities over the years, including the 1999 crash that killed golfer Payne Stewart. In 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 crashed, killing all 121 aboard after the crew was incapacitated.