ThinkProgress filed this report from the Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.
During a campaign stop at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) vociferously defended tax breaks for corporations by declaring that “corporations are people.” Though Romney’s assertion was widely mocked — corporations cannot vote, cannot be sent to prison, and clearly lack all human anatomy — the former Massachusetts governor has not backed down in the face of withering criticism.
Now, another GOPer says Romney was actually spot on: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
ThinkProgress asked Paul about Romney’s comments prior to the Republican presidential debate in Ames. Paul rushed to the former governor’s defense, arguing that Romney was correct in his equivalency between man and mega-company. “I think we’re all corporations,” Paul said. “All of us are corporations.” The Tea Party senator later went on to blur the lines further between corporations and people by declaring, “They’re us. They’re the middle class”:
KEYES: What did you make of Mitt Romney’s statement today that “corporations are people”?
PAUL: Corporations are collections of people. I think we’re all corporations. To say we’re going to punish corporations like they’re someone else. All of us are corporations.
KEYES: Do you think that was basically in line with what he was saying?
PAUL: You think about, if you own a retirement fund, you have a 401k, everybody who has a 401k has parts of corporations, so in a sense we are.
KEYES: I think people might argue that corporations can’t be sent to jail.
PAUL: I think those arguments can be made, but I think the fact that a lot of times people want to vilify corporations, saying they’re someone else, that they’re these other rich people. They’re us. They’re the middle class. We all own parts of corporations.
It’s unsurprising that Paul would side with corporations. In the past, Paul has expressed his affection for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was quick to defend BP during its high-profile act of corporate irresponsibility, and during the 2010 campaign, complained that disabilities laws are unfair to the business owner.
A quick glance at Paul’s campaign fundraising finds major contributions from corporations like Koch Industries, AT&T;, and Exxon Mobil. Still, as one of the original Tea Party senators, Paul’s defense of corporations flies in the face of the populist movement he purports to represent.
Corporate lobbyists have also played a major role in Romney’s presidential campaign. Indeed, a Huffington Post investigation found that thus far in 2011, Romney has received more campaign cash from lobbyists than the rest of the Republican field combined. As Romney barnstorms the country with his message that “corporations are people,” Paul’s busy watching out for Romney’s flank and making sure people understand that people “are corporations” as well.