Mitt Romney’s Middle Class Moment

Sep 22, 2011 6:50am
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Stephen Morton/Getty Images

ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Emily Friedman report:

Mitt Romney may be a multimillionaire, but on Wednesday he set his net worth aside and declared himself a member of “the great middle class.”

“We ought to provide help to the people who have been hurt most by the Obama economy. And that’s the middle class,” Romney said at a town hall meeting in Miami. “It’s not those at the very low end; it’s certainly not those at the very high end. It’s for the great middle class — the 80 to 90 percent of us in this country.”

Although Romney referred to “the 80 to 90 percent of us,” his membership in that group is a matter of some doubt.

Romney’s net worth is somewhere between $190 and $250 million, according to the candidate’s personal financial disclosure filed in August with the Federal Election Commission. His wealth exceeds those of his fellow GOP contenders as well as President Obama. Romney’s vast fortune and his real estate holdings have, at times, been a liability for him.

Last month, his campaign team was put in the awkward position of responding to reports that Romney was quadrupling the size of the $12 million seaside La Jolla, Calif. home. (Turns out he is only doubling its square footage to accommodate his growing family.)

Romney is well aware of what tax bracket he’s in, campaign aides say.

“Today Gov. Romney discussed, as he has many times on the campaign trail, his tax plan which is targeted at providing relief for middle class Americans; he was asserting nothing about himself,” Romney’s spokeswoman Andrea Saul told ABC News. “As president, Gov. Romney will hold the line on individual income tax rates and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains for low- and middle-income taxpayers.”

Nevertheless, the Democratic National Committee seized on the remark, circulating it in an e-mail message to reporters with the subject line: “Us???? Really?”

A tracker with the Democratic Super PAC, American Bridge, captured video of the event:

And his comment — innocuous as it may be — illustrates the challenge Romney faces in casting himself as a fast-food eating, discount airline flying regular guy instead of a former Bain Capital executive with a bulging bank account. Over the past few weeks, Romney has taken to Twitter to post photos of himself digging into Subway sandwiches and with flight attendants on Southwest Airlines.

It’s also not the first time Romney’s attempt to show that he feels voters’ pain has fallen flat. At a campaign stop in Tampa, Fla. in June he joked to a group of Sunshine State residents: “I should tell my story, I’m also unemployed.”

“I have my sight on a particular job,” Romney said to laughter.

In Miami on Wednesday, Romney focused most of his remarks on a contrast between himself and President Obama and how his stance on Social Security differs from rival Rick Perry. The Romney campaign has been trying to paint Perry’s view that the entitlement program is a “Ponzi scheme” as too extreme.

“I think the American people recognize that we’re at a point of crisis and they want to hear the truth,” Romney said at the town hall. “They can tell when people are being phony and are pandering to an audience. You’ll see that in politics. You’re not going to see it in my campaign.”

When asked after the event whether that comment was aimed at Perry, Romney reportedly replied:  ”I have no names for you, sorry.”

ABC’s Alyssa Newcomb contributed reporting to this post.

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