Romney has an “I paid for this microphone” moment (audio)

Two presidential candidates were on the state fairgrounds this morning.  Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman did a walk-by at the butter cow exhibit.  Former Masschusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke at The Des Moines Register’s Soap Box on the fairgrounds. Listen & read about Romney confronting hecklersAUDIO: Romney at State Fair Soapbox

Below is my live blog of the event. 

At 10 o’clock activity on the fairgrounds halted as a woman sang The National Anthem over the loudspeakers.  The crowd of fair-goers stopped; men took off their hats; and many sang along.  A burst of applause followed.

A huge crowd gathered at Soap Box, almost as large as the crowd that gathered for John McCain’s visit to the Soap Box in August of 2008.  Romney arrived shortly after 10:30 a.m. and began by calling the Soap Box host, The Des Moines Register,  “one of the great papers in America,”

Romney recognized a couple of familiar faces in the crowd. “It’s good to have so many friends here,” Romney said. “…This is a challenging time….Right now most people are concerned about the country and recognize that America’s in crisis…We’re led by a man who’s a fine fella, but he’s out of his depth and doesn’t understand how the economy works.”

Romney hammered away at his biography. “If you want to create jobs, it helps to have had a job and I have spent my life in the private sector,” he said, getting applause. “…If we’re going to turn around the economy…Let’s send some citizens to Washington.”

Romney said the recession was “deeper” and the recovery has been more “tepid” because of Obama.  “His policies did the exact opposite of what the nation needed,” Romney said.

Romney made a point of saying he was governor of Massachusetts for “only” four years.

“I didn’t inhale politics,” Romney told the crowd. “I’m still a business guy and a private citizen.”

Romney got a huge burst of applause by calling for a balanced budget.  He doesn’t use the word “socialist” but Romney said Obama may have gotten “inspiration” for his policies from Europe.

“I believe in freedom and opportunity, American-style,” he said, getting applause.

Romney promised to repeal ObamaCare, based on a 10th Amendment argument.

Romney concluded his remarks and then opened it up to questions. The first came from a woman who asked about the wealthy and Social Security benefits.

“There was a time when we didn’t attack people based on their success,” Romney said in response. A heated exchange ensued.  “…We’re not going to tear down other Americans.”

After a back-and-forth between Romney and a group of folks in the crowd, Romney has a sort of “I paid for this microphone” moment.  “Let ’em talk,” he said.

Romney then forcefully said it was his turn to talk. “If you don’t like my answer, you can vote for someone else,” Romney said, getting applause and cheers from the crowd.

“I’m not going to raise taxes. That’s my answer.  And if you want somebody who will raise taxes, vote for Barack Obama. Barack Obama is killing this economy,” Romney said, getting even more applause.

“Wall Street greed,” the group started chanting.

Romney said he wouldn’t be like other candidates. “They promise all sorts of free stuff,” he said. “It’s time in America to tell the people the truth. We can’t spend more than we earn year after year after year,” Romney said, to applause.

The group of agitators keeps pressing.  Romney repeated his “no new taxes” pledge and asked the crowd if they thought taxes should be raised.

“No,” most of the crowd hooted.

This group of agitators are like the Energizer Bunnies; they won’t give up.  Romney told the entire crowd the small group got to the Soap Box spot early and claimed front-row seats. “My guess is they won’t be voting for me,” Romney quipped, then spoke to the rest of the crowd. …But you guys are going to be voting for the next president of the United States — a person who won’t raise taxes and I’m that person.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. I’m guessing the phrases “Hey Hey Ho Ho somethingsomething has got to go” and “When do we want it? NOW! ” were also heard. Any of these folks ever make a GOTV phone call?