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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney spoke at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, making a classic Freudian slip that was immediately pounced on by his opposition. Speaking to a rowdy crowd on the afternoon of the Republican debate, Romney declared that “corporations are people.”
An audience member asked Romney why he was focusing on entitlement reforms to reduce the deficit instead of asking corporations to share part of the burden. Romney shot back, “Corporations are people, my friend… of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets. Human beings my friend.”
The Democrats wasted no time slamming Romney over the comments. “This is what Mitt Romney is going to run on? Corporations are people? Really?” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. “There’s a great message for people struggling to get by and trying to make ends meet. Don’t complain — corporations are people too!”
Speaking at the Des Moines Register soapbox, Romney was also interrupted by a heckler who asked if he supported “scrapping the Social Security payroll cap so that rich people pay their fair share into the trust fund?”
Romney responded, “There was a time in this country where we didn’t celebrate attacking people based on their success. We didn’t go after people because they were successful. I’ve watched this president go across the country attacking people, and I… and I am… if you want to speak, you can speak. But right now it’s my turn, so let me continue.”
Romney, clearly flustered, continued. “If you don’t like my answer, you can vote for someone else,” he said.
Romney’s attack comes just two days before the Ames straw poll in the state, an important indicator for the primary next year. Although Romney will appear on the ballot in Iowa, he has not been actively campaigning in the conservative state.
“As you know I participated in a major way in a straw poll four years ago,” Romney said in addressing his decision to forego the straw poll during an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday night.
“Some of the benefit I already was able to accrue based upon what happened last time around… I want to use my financial resources and my time this time to actually get delegates, not the straw polls — they are nice but don’t get you delegates — I’m not going to participate in the straw polls anywhere in the country.”