Des Moines, Iowa — If Mitt Romney was counting on a visit to the Iowa State Fair being a peaceful outing before the high-stakes debate tonight, he bet wrong. Instead, he landed in the epicenter of the debate over entitlement reform vs. tax hikes.
After delivering a ten-minute speech to a packed crowd at the Iowa State Fair, he opened the floor to questions. Right away, a woman angrily asked if he would support eliminating the cap on the income eligible for Social Security taxes.
“You know, there was a time in this country when we didn’t support attacking people for their success,” Romney responded.
When a member of the crowd began shouting as he continued his answer, a flustered Romney replied, “If you want to speak, you can speak. But right now, it’s my turn.”
“We want to make sure people do pay their fair share,” Romney said, after criticizing those who tear down Wall Street. “Half the people in this country pay no income tax at all.”
“I’m not going to raise taxes, that’s my answer,” he told a heckler at one point, after telling the person not to vote for him if he disagreed.
In response to a question about how he had hiked taxes on banks as governor of Massachussets, Romney said it was ending a tax “loophole.”
When an angry-sounding 23-year-old male urged Romney to support raising corporate taxes, Romney responded, “Corporations are people, my friend. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”
At certain points, Romney appealed to the friendly portion of the crowd (which significantly outnumbered the hecklers). “How many people think we should raise taxes to pay for their benefits?” he asked.
That was met with “boos” from most of the crowd.
During the speech itself, Romney stressed that he had only been a politician for four years, and considered himself to be primarily be a private citizen. “I didn’t inhale politics,” he said.
He also took on Obamacare, saying it would ultimately be repealed because of how it “tramples” on the Tenth Amendment.
Romney greets audience members before beginning his speech.
UPDATE: C-Span video of the approximately 10-minute Q & A: