Protesters interrupted a Mitt Romney campaign stop outside Des Moines, Iowa last night, chanting that the former Massachusetts governor is “of the corporate one percent” and admonishing him to “stop the war on the poor.” The protestors were quickly shouted down by Romney supporters.
ThinkProgress spoke with Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a prominent Romney endorser, after the event to get his take on the dust-up. Thune disagreed with the protesters, saying there is “no” merit to the idea that Romney, whose net worth is estimated at $250 million, is part of the corporate 1 percent.
KEYES: Do you think there is any merit, they’re charging that he’s of the corporate 1 percent?
THUNE: No. I think that this is somebody, if I’m somebody in this country who is worried about my job or is looking for a job, I want somebody out there who knows how to create jobs. […] Obviously tonight these are people who are going to protest, that’s fine. That’s a democracy, we welcome that. I thought he handled it well.
KEYES: The charges are off-base though?
THUNE: They are. I think it’s all what you’d expect from a campaign like this. The other side’s got their people out there. I’m very happy with where his campaign is, with how he’s addressing the issues, and what I think he can do to get people back to work.
Listen to it:
The cut-off to be in the top 1 percent of the American income spectrum, according to the New York Times, is an income of $506,553 per year. If Romney were to put his entire $250 million fortune in a typical Nationwide Bank savings account, for instance, at a 0.95 percent rate, the interest alone would put him in the top 0.1 percentile with $2,375,000 per year. Meanwhile, his retirement package from Bain Capital is likely taxed at a far lower rate than what average Americans pay on their salaries, but Romney has thus far stonewalled on releasing his tax returns.
Romney’s wealth came in large part from Bain, a private equity firm he founded in the 1980s. Bain made enormous amounts of money by, as the Los Angeles Times noted, “firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping companies quickly for large profits.”
Though his 1 percent credentials are beyond reproach, it is also worth noting that Romney has built his campaign relying on the support of Wall Street bankers and billionaires. In fact, 10 percent of all the billionaires in America have donated to Romney, and the candidate himself has called for allowing them to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, including his own. Romney’s economic agenda, in turn, is tailor-made for the wealthiest 1 percent.
Still, despite his enormous personal wealth, billionaire-backing, and one-percent economic agenda, Romney has tried to reach out to average people by pointing out that, like many Americans, he’s “also unemployed.”