DES MOINES – During a sometimes-raucous stump speech at the Iowa State Fair, 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly pledged he would not raise taxes if elected president and he predicted Democrat Barack Obama will not win a majority of Iowa votes next year in a quest to be re-elected.
Romney persevered through a shouting match with several fair-goers who challenged him on Social Security, Medicare and other policy areas, telling the throng who gathered for his speech on the fair concourse “my guess is they won’t be voting for me” but he urged others who had not come with preconceived notion to consider sending someone to the White House who has had previous business experience and economic expertise.
“I believe the reason that this recession was deeper than it could have been and the recovery is more tepid than it should have been is because the president just doesn’t understand that his policies did the exact opposite of what the nation needed,” Romney told scores of onlookers and assembled media.
“On every dimension you can think of in this president’s first two and a half years in office, the actions he took made it harder for entrepreneurs to build businesses, for banks to loan money and for big businesses to invest in capital and people,” he added.
Romney said his approach would be to restrain government growth and reduce the federal deficit, ease the regulatory climate that’s impeding job growth, expand trade opportunities, and establish tax rates that are comparable with U.S. competitors.
“I’m not going to raise taxes,” he told the sometimes boisterous crowd. “If you want someone who’s going to raise taxes, you can vote for Barack Obama.”
Romney’s state fair “soap-box” appearance turned into a heated, back-and-forth argument with several people who placed themselves at the front of the crowd to confront the GOP front-runner during a question-and-answer session. The questioning turned to heckling at times with some crowd members chanting “Wall Street Greed” and shouting over Romney’s answers, prompting him to tell those shouting “If you want to speak, you can. But it’s my turn.”
Romney closed by telling the crowd — many of whom applauded Romney’s answers and his handling of the situation – by telling the onlookers “I appreciate the chance to be with you. We’ve got a few folks up front who got here early to make sure that they could make their voice could be heard. My guess is they won’t be voting for me. That’s fine. We have a lot of people running for office. They won’t be voting for any of the Republicans. They can vote for President Obama.”
One point in the proceedings where Romney deflected criticisms of big corporations who one questioner said don’t pay their fair share of taxes by responding that “corporations are people, my friend,” later drew a strong rebuke from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
“Mitt Romney’s comment today that ‘corporations are people’ is one more indication that Romney and the Republicans on the campaign trail and in Washington have misplaced priorities,” she said in a statement. “It is a shocking admission from a candidate—and a party—that shamelessly puts forward policies to help large corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class, seniors, and students.”
Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said she was surprised that Romney’s handlers would allow him to get caught up in shouting match after months of steering clear of the state that kicks of the 2012 presidential nominating process. She called his remark about corporations “just absolutely a tone deaf response.”
However, Jim and Susan Rohden, a Republican couple from Clive, came away with a positive impression and new-found support for the former Massachusetts governor.
“I thought he was excellent. I was impressed with his passion. I was impressed that he’s willing to stand up and say here are my solutions instead of trying to pawn it off on someone else. We’re not getting that today, in my opinion,” Jim Rohden said. “That was the best I’ve heard him. He’s got some solutions.”
Mike Curtis, a Des Moines president, said he was impressed by Romney’s style and thought “he looks like a president” during an Iowa State Fair appearance that also include the presidential contender taking a turn cooking pork chops with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at the pork producers’ fair stand.
“He’s certainly worthy of consideration,” Curtis said. “I think he’s the one, at least of the ones that are currently running. He’s got a business background and he’s been successful in everything he’s done.”
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