Santorum on Romney’s Tax Return: Congratulations on Income, But It May Alienate Him From ‘Average Person’

Jan 24, 2012 2:02pm

OKEECHOBEE, FLA. — After a town hall with Florida voters in a church gymnasium, Rick Santorum congratulated Mitt Romney on the amount of money he made last year, over $21 million in 2010, which was revealed in his tax returns released early Tuesday.

Santorum said he wouldn’t criticize his rival on his wealth but pointed out that other millionaire politicians have struggled to connect with the “average person.”

“Having someone that wealthy–was it an issue? Was it an issue in John Kerry’s campaign? It was,” Santorum said, referring to Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid. “That may be an issue with Governor Romney and his appeal to people. And I think that’s something that should be considered by people as to what kind of appeal do they have, what kind of relationship do they have with the kind of voters we need to be able to be successful.”

But Santorum was careful not to condemn Romney for his financial success.

“We know Mitt Romney is a wealthy man,” Santorum told reporters as he left the event. “I’m not going to be critical of someone because they have been successful.”

The former Pennsylvania senator said the tax code should be reformed so that wealthy people, like Romney, can use their riches to help create jobs, not prop up the federal government.

“We hope we all can be successful and we should have a tax code that people who have that wealth should deploy that wealth to create jobs,” Santorum said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do when looking at it, making sure people deploy that money to create jobs and pay taxes on that money.”

The former Pennsylvania senator said he disagrees with rival Newt Gingrich and would not eliminate taxes on capital gains, because without taxes on such investment income, millionaires like Romney would pay virtually no income tax.

“At least you could say between the three of us, even though Romney made a lot of money, both Romney and I would have had him pay some taxes,” Santorum said. “Gingrich is for eliminating taxing on capital gains … it would be a way of tax avoidance, which I’m not too sure is all that positive.”

Santorum also told reporters that he would be releasing his own taxes soon. With a trip to Virginia, where the Santorum family lives, scheduled for Wednesday that release could come within days.

He said he earned a “small fraction” of what Romney made, but said he has been financially successful recently “better than ever in life” over the “last couple of years.”

“I’m  pretty excited about that for our family, but this past year wasn’t as good and this year isn’t good at all … not making a lot of money right now,” Santorum said referring to running for president instead of working.

During the event, he criticized President Obama and said he “specifically divides people” because he spoke positively about the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Occupy protesters have been a common presence at Santorum campaign events, carrying signs , interrupting his speeches, and even throwing glitter at the candidate and his supporters.

“Mr. President, you are the president of 100 percent of people, not 99 percent,” Santorum said to cheers from the crowd.

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