An upbeat crowd of more than a thousand Iowans braved chilly weather and flocked to a farm in Van Meter on Tuesday to hear Mitt Romney’s vision for the future. The GOP nominee focused on taxes, energy, agriculture and jobs, promising that “America’s gonna come roaring back.” Romney, still riding high from a dominant debate performance last week, also slammed President Obama’s campaign for what seems to be their main focus: Big Bird.
“These are tough times with real serious issues, so you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird,” Romney said to applause and laughter from the supportive crowd. “I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future, and also saving the family farm.”
Obama, hoping to distract voters from his debate disaster last week, has even stooped to using Big Bird in an attack ad. In response, Sesame Street asked the campaign to remove the iconic character from any and all advertising. The Obama campaign had yet to do so as of this writing.
While Obama focused on fictional birds, Mitt Romney appealed to America’s farmers by pitching his plan to lower taxes. He also hopes to eliminate the estate tax, aka the death tax.
“The President has this idea that he wants to raise the tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent. And that won’t be good for farms,” Romney said. “My own view is I want to take that tax rate down. I want to take it from 35 percent to 28 percent and help American farmers and small business. He’s planning on raising the death tax pretty significantly. My own view is we ought to kill the death tax. You paid for that farm once. You shouldn’t have to pay for it again.”
The death tax is a major point of contention for farm families. It is sending the current generation of would-be farmers looking for work in other fields, outside of agriculture. Passing the family farm down to the next generation is a longtime Iowa tradition. However, the hefty price tag that comes with President Obama’s plans could render the practice obsolete.
“Now and then a farm is successful enough to save a little money,” Romney said. “And when you do save your money, the president has this idea of raising your taxes a lot on your savings, your interest and dividends and capital gains if you’re lucky enough to have them. My view is that if you’re making $200,000 a year and less, you should pay no tax whatsoever on interest, dividends or capital gains.”
A handful of Iowa Republican heavyweights boosted Romney’s message. Congressmen Steve King and Tom Latham, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and soon-to-be State Senator Jake Chapman warmed up the chilly crowd before Romney took the podium. Latham warned that farmers will suffer under four more years of an Obama administration.
“Never before have we had a Department of Agriculture who doesn’t understand farming, doesn’t understand agriculture,” Congressman Latham said, taking a shot at former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. “This administration, through the EPA, has hundreds of regulations waiting to come out the day after this election.”
Congressman King reiterated the importance of a Republican victory in Iowa. “David Axelrod and Barack Obama know that they’ve got to win here,” King said. “That makes Iowa a must-win state for Mitt Romney, because the path to the White House comes through Iowa again.”
Romney’s speech was relatively brief, but he took the time to share a few personal stories with the crowd, including meeting a U.S. Navy Seal who wound up being one of those killed in the Benghazi attack on the 9/11 anniversary. The former Massachusetts governor also jabbed the president for showing no leadership on bring the U.S House and Senate together to pass a farm bill. Romney also vowed to complete work on the Keystone pipeline.
“There are big differences between the president and me,” Romney said. “He has no plan for rural America, no plan for agriculture, no plan for getting people back to work. And I do. You know I’ve spoken about it all over the country. And I’m going to make sure I help the American farmer and I help our economy and I get America working again.”
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