The defining gaffe of the 2012 presidential race came when Mitt Romney was recorded saying, "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what... These are people who pay no income tax."
Though fact-checkers determined that what Romney said at that May 17, 2012 fundraiser was technically true (most everyone pays some taxes in some form, however, even if they don't pay income taxes), the perception that Romney had essentially written off the poorer half of America was something his campaign was never able to fully recover from once the video hit the internet that September.
Turns out that more than two months before Romney made that infamous comment, Torrey Westrom, a Republican Minnesota state senator representing a west-central part of the state, made essentially the same comment during a town hall meeting, only he didn't single out income taxes as Romney did.
And now that Westrom is a Republican congressional candidate challenging longtime Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is trying to use the clip of him saying that against him.
Here's the clip, followed by a transcript:
Man: [During] the Eisenhower Administration, we built our infrastructure -- our roads, our bridges, our schools, our fire halls -- we built that during that era and the tax rate on the wealthiest people was 60 percent, and it was an honor for them, and society looked up to them -- they were pillars in their community and respected, and we appreciated them. And now all I see is scapegoating on the poor, blaming people on food assistance when they can't even get a part-time job... I'm saying that [rich people] pay less in income tax than poor people do.In response to that clip, the DCCC spokesman Brandon Lorenz sent us this statement:
Westrom: Even though 48 percent of Americans don't pay taxes?
Man: The Bible says, 'To whom much has been given, much shall be required.' Now [the wealthy] built that infrastructure and they did that out of the goodness of their hearts in the '50s and now it's like pulling teeth to get an extra dime out of the wealthiest people in this society, and I'm tired of it.
Westrom: Let me tell you, versus your philosophy, my philosophy is, don't overtax the citizens, let them keep their hard-earned wealth [and] take care of themselves as much as they can and we do for the communities that individually they can't do for themselves. You would rather tax everybody's income, take it away from them, redistribute it, government knows best...
Senator Westrom's claim that 48 percent of people don't pay taxes seems to miss that many of the very people he is targeting are Minnesotans who have worked hard, played by the rules and paid into Social Security and rely on it in their retirement. Senator Westrom's willingness to target seniors who rely on Social Security shows that he can't be trusted to stand up for the middle class Minnesotans who are the backbone of our economy.Though Peterson comfortably won reelection in 2012 with over 60 percent of the vote, he has a target on his back this election cycle because his western Minnesota district leans to the right -- 54 percent of voters there cast their ballots for Mitt Romney.