The Washington Post

Romney defends his millions

Romney shakes hands in N.H. Saturday. (Reuters)

TILTON, N.H. – Most voters probably know that Mitt Romney is a multi-millionaire. But they don’t usually ask him about it.

 Not so here Friday night.

 A woman stood at a crowded campaign event here and asked Romney to make a personal sacrifice.

 “I’m a middle-class American like a lot of people here and we’re all hurting – we really are,” she said. “It’s a little hard for me because I know you’re a multi-millionaire. I read that you have four houses. Would you be willing to give up some of that so that we middle Americans could get some tax cuts?”

 At first, Romney seemed a bit befuddled by the question. “That’s a good idea,” he replied, laughing.

But quickly, the former Massachusetts governor made a correction. “Let’s see, well, I don’t have four houses, that’s number one, although it’s a good idea.”

 Actually, Romney had four houses the last time he ran for president – in Belmont, Mass., Wolfeboro, N.H., Park City, Utah, and San Diego, Calif. But after the 2008 campaign, he sold the Utah ski home as well as the Belmont mansion where he raised his five sons. He replaced the mansion with a condominium in the same Boston suburb, bringing his property inventory to three.

After clarifying the point, Romney pivoted back to his campaign talking points.

 “I can tell you this: the best way that I can help middle-income Americans is to become president of the United States – to cut taxes for middle-income Americans, which is what my proposal does, and to get jobs for middle- income Americans,” Romney said. “And if we get good jobs for middle-income Americans, then we’re going to be able to have people have more demand to hire people and wages will go up.”

 Romney continued: “I know that there are some who say, `Let’s just get more money from the higher-income people, let’s just tax them some more.’ And I understand that’s popular in a lot of people’s minds. But just don’t forget that old Margaret Thatcher line: ‘Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.’”

Romney’s remarks came at an evening spaghetti dinner in the stately dining hall of the Tilton School. Romney and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a key surrogate, addressed several hundred supporters before he served them spaghetti and Caesar salad for dinner. Scores more waited in an overflow room. Haley plans to campaign with him in New Hampshire on Saturday, as well as do media interviews on his behalf around Saturday night’s debate.

Perhaps worried that his commanding lead in the polls here may make his supporters complacent during Tuesday’s primary, Romney tried to fire them up.

“People in New Hampshire expect you to work hard, to earn it,” Romney said. “And we’re in a real battle right now…Those polls, they can just disappear overnight. What you say to a pollster is a bit like going on a date. It’s like, well I’m going to try this, but getting married, that’s something else.”

“We need to make sure you’re working real hard,” he added, “and I’ll keep working real hard. We’ll go to town meeting after town meeting, and retail events.”


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Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

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The Post's Philip Bump says ...
Since he proclaimed that he'd win New Hampshire last summer, Bernie Sanders has seen a swing of about 50 points in his direction. Impressive. But not as impressive as the guy on the other side of the political aisle. Donald Trump has led the Republican field in New Hampshire for almost 200 days, and has held a lead in 51 straight live-caller polls -- every poll stretching back to last July.
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