DES MOINES -- Mitt Romney took the soap box at the Iowa State Fair and quickly had to confront -- what else? -- liberal hecklers. Twelve people from/volunteers with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a liberal think tank, positioned themselved in the front of the crowd and got four questions in to the former governor.
Romney got annoyed, and fast, as the activists interrupted him to follow up. "Do you want to let me talk? You let me talk and I'll let you talk... there was a time in this country when we didn't attack people based on what they earn."
One of the questions dealt with the news that Romney had included a defense of Massachusetts's tax hikes in his 2004 pitch to S&P. Romney deftly elided the question, explaining what tax loopholes were. "We had banks that classified themselves as real estate companies to get tax breaks," he said. He was open, he said, to closing loopholes. Just not raising taxes.
Cheri Mortice, a retired teacher with ICCI, asked Romney if he'd raise taxes on wealthier people to fund Social Security. Romney talked over the shouters and straddled a bale of hay sitting in front of him.
"I will not raise taxes!" he said. "If you want to vote for someone who'll raise taxes, vote for President Obama." To silence the small number of hecklers, he appealed to the crowd. "We've got some people who want to raise taxes," he said. "How many people here agree with that?"
I taped the last Q&A, in which Dan Symmonds, who'd come along with a friend who worked at ICCI, asked Romney the tax question again, and Romney aggresively attacked the idea that taxing corporations was not akin to taxing people.