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RUSH: We have Romney dredging up here a whole brand-new negative advertising campaign against Newt. We have the mainstream media going after Romney, Mr. 15%, talking about how much money he makes from speeches and so forth, conveniently ignoring how wealthy the Clintons are because of speeches and how often they brag about it. Brian Ross, who has yet to investigate Obama for anything, is now out with a story on how much money Romney has given to the Mormon church.

Do you realize that Bain Capital, when Romney was there, a certain portion of Bain Capital was pledged to the Mormon church? I’m surprised they’re doing this now, before Romney has secured the nomination. We all knew it was coming. We all knew the Mormon angle was coming. We’ve been surprised where it’s been up till now. The conventional wisdom is, hey, Romney weathered that storm in 2008. I thought giving to a charity was a good thing. But now it’s not. Now, Romney, I’ll tell you, there’s a better way to have done this 15% tax business. He did not have a good debate Monday night compared to the others. Romney did not have a particularly good debate, which is a little curious ’cause he been doing this longer than any of the others on the stage. You have his experience in 2008 and the experience this year, some answers ought to just roll off your tongue. Some answers ought to now just be automatic coming out of the oral cavity.

But Mitt appeared to be stumbling and unsure of some things when this income tax challenge came up. “Release your income taxes,” Rick Perry up there. “I think that you should release your taxes.” What Romney shoulda said, “Okay, I’ll release my income tax as soon as Obama releases his college transcripts.” And he could have said, “Okay, here’s the amount of money I’ve paid in taxes.” But he went the percentage route. He was clearly on defense about this, and he went the 15% defense route. What he left out is that he probably paid a lot higher tax rate on the income prior to reporting the capital gains rate on it.

Now, Newt, God bless him, is now telling Santorum and Paul to scram. And Santorum is saying, “Newt Gingrich cannot bully me out of this race.” And Romney is now preparing a whole new negative series of attack ads on Gingrich. Sarah Palin was on Fox last night, and she went rogue. She said if she lived in South Carolina, she would vote Newt on Saturday. Now, she didn’t say that she was endorsing Newt. She just said if she lived in South Carolina, she’d vote Newt. And the presumption there is that she’s doing her own version of Operation Chaos, keeping this thing going. No sense in wrapping this up after Florida. Why is it magic that our race has to be wrapped up after Florida or this soon?


RUSH: “Republican Mitt Romney acknowledged Tuesday that his income tax rate is ‘probably closer to 15 percent than anything,’ suggesting that one of the wealthiest people to ever run for US president pays a much lower rate than most Americans.” This is Reuters’ Sam Youngman. It is an outrageous story.

Okay. Just look at this lede. “Republican Mitt Romney acknowledged Tuesday that his income tax rate is ‘probably closer to 15 percent than anything,’ suggesting that one of the wealthiest people to ever run for US president pays a much lower rate than most Americans.” Remember how Reuters said that about John Kerry (who served in Vietnam)? Do you remember that? John Kerry was almost certainly the richest man to ever run for the presidency. He married it, but still. He had access to it. He was the wealthiest man to ever run for the president and we never heard a word about it. It was covered up; it was not mentioned. Now, John Kerry got his money the good old-fashioned way: He married it. Ms. Heinz is “estimated to be worth between $750 million and $1.2 billion.

“According to her most recently released income tax of 2003, the Kerry and Heinz paid an effective federal income tax rate of 12%.” Now is anybody suggesting Romney isn’t paying a legal rate? Is anybody suggesting Romney’s breaking the law? Is anybody suggesting that Romney’s cheating the tax code? Then, what’s the story here? Well, we all know what the story is. It fits the template. The frustrating thing is that we know they’re gonna trot this out every year, we know it’s coming, and there’s never any preparation for it! There’s never any. All we do is end up defending — and I’m telling you: Nobody ever won anything defending it. Now, I can sit here and I can give you facts and figures about Democrats and wealth and tax rates and so forth, and it won’t matter.

It won’t matter at all. The Clintons brag… They’re saying Romney made $375,000 speaking. Clinton has made $80 million speaking over something like eight years! Eighty million. Furthermore, the Clintons brag about it every day. (Clinton impression) “Yeah, I have so much money now, you know, I don’t need these tax cuts that they’re talking about. I’m in the highest bracket, Hillary and I together. Huh huh. We don’t need tax cuts. We’re rich people now. We have more money than you do!” That’s their daily, weekly message. Mitt Romney is a piker compared to the Clintons — and John Kerry pays a 12% tax rate! Reuters insists that Romney’s wealth shows that he’s out of touch, is out of touch with the experiences and concerns of typical Americans.

All right. Well, let’s compare. For the record, the Obamas’ tax return for 2010 showed that they earned $1,728,096. Are they out of touch? And forget what the Obamas earned. Look how they live! There’s a reason she is called “Michelle Antoinette.” She takes her own separate jets to Spain with 35 people. You and I are paying for it. She takes her own separate jet to Hawaii. Barack and Michelle Obama are living like kings! They are not living on their income, they are so far above their income, and yet it is never said about the Obamas that they are “out of touch with the experiences and concerns of typical Americans.” So they earn $1.7 million.

In April of 2008, the Hillary campaign released their 2000-2006 joint tax returns, which showed that the Clintons had made more than $110 million in those seven years. Were they ever called out of touch? No, and it’s not possible for them to be out of touch, because they’re Democrats. They’re good liberals, big hearts of gold. They don’t give anything to charity to speak of. That’s documented. Gore? Kerry? Zip! Biden one year gave $235 to charity or maybe that was Gore, I forget which. They’re pikers! They’re tightwads. They don’t use their own money for anything. They use as little of their own money for anything, as little of their own as they can get away with. Bill Clinton, $82 million in speaking fees over six years: 2000 to 2006. He probably gets more now.

The Clintons hide their money in family foundations, in the Clinton Global Initiative; trying to rebuild and restructure a tainted, blown reputation because of the whole impeachment, Monica Lewinsky thing, and there’s the press and Reuters and all the rest of the media-industrial complex doing their best to cover it all up and rebuild a tattered reputation. Reuters also chides Romney for saying he gets speakers’ fees from time to time “but not very much.” Romney’s speaking fees total around $375,000 last year. Maybe Romney is not very much compared to Bill Clinton, who again $82 million in six years for his speaking fees.

Now, the news media, the rest of the Democrats — even Perry and Newt — are pretending that Romney’s breaking some time-honored rule in not returning his tax returns earlier than April. Releasing tax returns is a relatively new position for presidential candidates. It started after Watergate. Lastly, Reuters reports the lie that Romney is paying a lower rate than Warren Buffett’s secretary. As we’ve noted before, Romney’s dividend income, like Warren Buffett’s, has already been taxed once, at the 35% rate via the corporate income tax. So the 15% tax is likely on top of that 35% tax, the capital gains on it all. But none of it matters. It’s the image that must be fed.


RUSH: For what it’s worth I’m just gonna give you a little information here. The facts are these. A presidential candidate is not required by election law to disclose tax returns. Most of them voluntarily do, but it’s not required. During the 2008 Republican presidential primary, Romney did not release a tax return. It was never a problem. In 2008, McCain released his tax information in mid-April, long after he had wrapped up the nomination. Obama released his 2000 through 2006 tax returns in late March. Hillary Clinton released hers in mid-April. Kerry, in 2004, also released his in mid-April.

Now, one of the things we learned from Kerry’s tax return is that he paid zero to charity. He donated zero to charity the year before he ran for the presidency. Zero. And he is the wealthiest guy in the modern era to ever run for president, and he paid a tax rate of 12%, effective tax rate, he and Countess Teresa filing jointly. Ronald Reagan released his tax returns under protest just a couple weeks before accepting the nomination. It’s not required by law. So Romney said, “I’ll probably release sometime in April. I’m probably paying around 15%.” His net worth, the figure I’ve seen bandied about here is $270 million. I want to know where the crime is here, but it’s being reported as almost a crime that Romney is paying an effective rate of 15%. It’s almost a crime that he has given money to the Mormon church.

Now, who would you rather have as president? Do you want somebody who earned their money and spent their money legally, invested their money legally, paid their taxes legally. Or, do you want a guy who buys a house at below market price with the help of a guy who later came to be a convicted felon, Tony Rezko? You note none of this attention was ever paid to Barack Obama. And we all know why. First legitimate black presidential contender; history in the making; we can’t do anything to upset the applecart, plus he’s a liberal Democrat, so he’s inoculated against any of this. Because, you see, the template, the narrative is that Republicans equal rich, sleazy businessmen, even though all the rich, sleazy businessmen donate to the Democrats now.

And as I say, the frustrating thing is that you know this stuff is coming. Every election, They know it’s coming, yet there has not been a defense prepared for it. There doesn’t seem to be anybody on the Republican side prepared to deal with this, even though everybody knows it’s coming. What would have been wrong with the answer, “It’s none of your business. I’ll release it when I’m ready to. I’ll release it when I see Obama’s transcripts from college.” Throw it back at them. I don’t know. It’s just me.


RUSH: Now, one of the reasons… Look, I’m not here trying to offer excuses or explanations — well, maybe explanations, certainly not excuses. We all admit that Romney did not have the best debate Monday night. You don’t know, Snerdley. You didn’t see it. It’s true. I said it, and of all the people, you would think he’d roll. This is his second campaign. Some of the answers to some of the allegations, questions, just ought to roll out of his mouth, off his tongue, but they don’t yet. Remember, his father, George Romney, got into trouble; had a huge big mouth. George Romney… Mitt maybe, obviously, learned from this and doesn’t want to make the same mistake or experience.

George Romney said that he was brainwashed when he went to South Vietnam — by us, by our side, by the Americans! He was brainwashed when he went over there. That sank his presidential campaign overnight. The American advisers brainwashed him. Well, I mean, it was over. He was totally finished. When something like that happens to your dad, it’s obviously a formative experience, and so you’re going to be very guarded. His dad shot from the hip frequently. Mitt doesn’t, and it’s very obvious. Now, you may have heard a 200-page document that appears to be from McCain’s 2008 opposition research on Romney has been put up on the Internet.

“The biggest portion consists of a detailed and heavily sourced exploration of RomneyÂ’s evolving positions on social issues (22 pages), economic issues (21 pages) and domestic policy (48 pages). A 33-page section details his business record at Bain Capital, and 16 pages cover political issues that the authors believed can be exploited against Romney. Another 11 pages are devoted to his ‘flip-flops.'” So there’s 200 pages of op research ostensibly from the McCain campaign in 2008 — and yet, despite all that, McCain has endorsed Romney (and that’s just plain old party politics). My point in bringing this up is that our last caller is getting upset at all these attacks on Romney.

There are all these attacks on everybody, and this is chump change compared to what’s coming in the general election once we have a nominee, whoever it is. Now, there are some theories out there who will be less affected by Democrat attacks, and there’s a popular conventional wisdom that Romney will be the least affected, that they will be able to do the least damage to Romney, that it’s tough to make fun of him, that all these attacks have already been leveled against him back in 2008, but that it’s easy to make fun of and parody Newt and make a joke of him and ridicule him. Ridiculing Romney very hard to do, ridiculing Newt easy. Ridiculing Santorum, relatively easy. Ridiculing Perry, relatively easy. Ridiculing Ron Paul — ha-ha-ha-ha — easiest thing in the world.

Well, this is just the conventional wisdom that’s out there, but all of this that’s going on is called “vetting,” and we say we want vetting. To those of you who say, “Yeah, but, Rush, some of these allegations that Newt’s making about Mitt and some of the allegations Mitt’s making about Newt, they’re not true.” I know, and what do you think’s coming? In a way this is all useful to find out how these guys are gonna deal with it. Because once one of them is chosen as the nominee, it’s gonna be intensified far above what it is now once the Democrats and the media join forces and get in gear on this. So proving ground, training school, training wheels, however you want to look at it.

But the allegations need to be vetted, too. This whole business “the seriousness of the charge rather than the nature of the evidence,” well, the allegations need to be vetted as well. In the meantime, every day you can find a story like this, sometimes more than one. This is from the Business Insider: “Nearly three million New Yorkers are reporting having difficulty affording food while a growing percentage of college-educated New Yorkers are also reporting higher levels of difficulty, according to a new report from the Food Bank For New York City.

“One in three expressed concerns that they might need” assistance finding food. This is despite all the food stamps out there! “The number of affected residents making between $50,000 and $75,000 — and therefore not eligible for food assistance programs — increased by 6 percent. To cope, they’re cutting back on spending by purchasing fewer essential items like dairy, meat and fresh fruits and turning to soup kitchens and food stamps” which is all part of Obama’s plan: Creating more and more dependency on government for the necessities of life. Now, when will this be called “The Obama Economy”?

When will this proposal be called Obamaville? I don’t know how you blame anything going on in New York on any Republican, unless you want to go back and try to say that this is Giuliani’s mess, but it can’t be and it isn’t. You’ve got a liberal nanny for mayor who now wants to put bars out of business by limiting the number of adult beverages you can have every day. Now, you’ve got food banks reporting increased activity: 2.9 million New Yorkers! The population’s what, 7 million and 2.9 million New Yorkers report having difficult affording food? It’s Obamaville. (interruption) Well, I don’t know if there’s any trans fat foods around. Even if you’re starving and you find some trans fats, I’m sure they’ll charge you. It’s absurd.

Back to the audio sound bites. This is Romney. Now, I wanted to play this. We discussed it earlier, but this was yesterday in Florence, South Carolina. It was a town hall event. During the Q&A, Romney said this about his taxes.

ROMNEY: I’ve been paying, it’s probably closer to the 15% rate than anything because my last ten years I’ve — my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or earned annual income. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away — and then I get speaker’s fees from the time but not very much.

RUSH: So Reuters took this and did a giant story putting dollar figures to it like $372,000 doing speeches. Never mind Bill Clinton: $82 million in speeches, over six years. From 2000 to 2006, Bill Clinton, $82 million! The Clintons are running around bragging about how rich they are. The Clintons run around and brag about how they have so much money, they don’t need a tax cut. The Clintons hide all kinds of their money in the Clinton Family Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative. Romney, $372,000 doing speeches versus $80 million for Clinton over six or seven years. I mean, it’s no contest at all. So the media has now gone nuts over this, and they never cared about John Kerry. John Kerry paid an effective tax rate of 12% the last year that his tax returns were made available. He and Countess Teresa Heinz, combined taxes, they paid an effective tax rate of 12%; and the year before Kerry ran for president, he paid zero to charity. He donated zero to charity. So here’s a montage of the media going nuts over Romney’s tax rate.

JONATHAN KING: Mitt Romney finally tells us how much he pays in taxes! Just wait until you hear his definition of “not very much money.”

ERIN BURNETT: (dramatic music) Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire, pays a lower tax rate than you.

SHEP SMITH: Mitt Romney may pay a lower tax rate than you do.

DANA MILBANK: Mitt Romney, $374,000 isn’t a lot of money.

MARTIN BASHIR: How much is “not that much” to Mitt Romney? More than $374,000!

SGT. SCHULTZ: He admits his effective tax rate is close to 15%!

LARRY O’DONNELL: The speaking fees that he calls, quote, “not very much” are what the rest of the world calls “wicked huge.”

REICH: It is legal, but what is legal is also a scandal. Mitt Romney has a lot of explaining to do.

RUSH: That was former Labor Secretary Robert B. Reichhhh with the final comment there in our montage. Of course, I get speaker’s fees from time to time, not very much, $374,000, not very much. Not very much compared to $82 million for Clinton. Here is Diane Sawyer, she’s so good we separate her out. ABC’s World News Tonight, she’s talking with Senior Political Correspondent, Jon Karl.

KARL: How much is not very much for Mitt Romney? $374,000. ThatÂ’s how much he made last year giving eight speeches, Diane.

SAWYER: Nearly $350,000, Jon?

KARL: $374,000.

SAWYER: Wow. Okay, thanks so much to Jon Karl reporting in tonight.

RUSH: “Wow.” “Wow.” So $374,000, eight speeches. During the early 1990s, with no apparent presidential perspirations, John Kerry contributed the following amounts to charity: Zero in 1991, $820 in 1992, $175 to charity in 1993, $2,039 in 1994. Zero dollars to charity in 1995. In 2003, once he began to run for the presidency, he gave $43,735. Diane Sawyer belongs to the Speakers Bureau. I wonder how much she gets for her speeches. Diane Sawyer’s worth $40 million according to CelebrityNetWorth.com. I wonder if $300,000 is a big deal to her. Divide 374,000 by eight. What does that come out to per speech? Should be able to do this in two seconds. Have to call up the calculator and open the calculator, input the numbers. What is the number? You know, with five seconds of dead air I coulda gone to my computer and done this myself. Forty-six thousand a speech, $46,000 a speech. Clinton doesn’t speak for less than $110,000. And Romney does eight of ’em.

I don’t charge for speeches. I don’t even charge for expenses for speeches. And the money generated when I do one, most of it, goes to charity. I don’t get a dime. I’m not part of a Speakers Bureau, I don’t have an agent, and I’m fine. I think the most I’ve been offered is a million dollars to do a speech. Yeah, it was in Texas and it was sometime back in the nineties.

You know what I did last night, by the way? I got the final installment of all the Columbo mystery movies from 1993 to 2001, the last seven or eight of ’em, and I remembered there was a Columbo that bounced off of me in 1993. The character was a talk show host, a pompous, arrogant talk show host who was the murderer. I’d forgotten, I watched a little bit of it last night. William Shatner portrayed Fielding Chase, that was his name, and I remember at the time NBC, with their little promo announcements during the week, promoing the up-and-coming Columbo, kept talking about, “Don’t miss the rush, Sunday night’s Columbo!” In 1993 we were five years into this, and the media still hadn’t figured out what this was all about. We were skyrocketing. We were on our way to 600 stations. It was the fun phase; you can never repeat it, you know, the growth phase, and then you finally get there and the hard work begins of staying there.

But I got the DVDs yesterday and I decided to watch this, from 1993, William Shatner. I’ve been to Shatner’s house. I’ve watched Monday Night Football at Shatner’s house and I’ve been interviewed by him on that show of his, and he’s a funny-as-heck guy. And his character was perfectly pompous and arrogant in this Columbo that I watched.


RUSH: Okay. By the way, Bill Clinton averaged $181,000 per speech, and in two instances, June, 2008, Clinton got $525,000 for a speech at a motivational speaking conference in Edmonton, Canada, and $500,000 for a speech in Moscow in June of 2010, another $500,000 for a speech at the United Arab Emirates in December of 2010. And of course that’s never, ever reported, and Clinton brags about how rich he is. But see, Clinton says, (imitating Clinton) “Hey, I’m all for a tax increase. Hillary and I, we don’t need all this money, ha-ha, we don’t need it.” All they do is shelter as much of it as they can.

RUSH: Let’s go back to Joe Scarborough this morning on MSNBC. They’re talking about Romney and his taxes. Get this.

SCARBOROUGH: This is a problem on a lot of levels. Campaigns are sometimes defined in a moment that the candidate doesn’t realize. Uh, we can go back to Michael Dukakis and the tank, we can go back to 1980 and Ronald Reagan saying, “Mr. Green, I paid for this mic” in Nashua. In this case you got a guy worth $250 million talking about how he’s paying a lower tax rate than most secretaries. Yesterday is a day that I suspect the Romney campaign is going to be regretting for some time.

RUSH: How is this Dukakis in the tank? Dukakis was a joke. Dukakis was a failure. Dukakis was a loser. Romney was and is a success. Achievement is a scandal! Fifteen percent tax rate. He explained it. Sad thing is, few people understand it. They don’t know what “earned income” is versus “capital gains.” Well, half the people don’t pay income taxes, what do they care? You know the class envy thing, you know what the Democrats are trying here. Romney did step in it. I have to tell you something, there are better ways for Romney to have done this. This is one of my points when I said that he didn’t have a good debate on Monday night, this is one of the things I mean. Frankly, he shoulda said, “I’ll show you what my taxes are when Obama releases his academic records,” or do what Boone Pickens did.

Pickens said, “I have paid $600-some-odd million since I turned 70. Is that not enough?” Remember what the media said? “Well, it doesn’t count ’til you tell us what you earned. But Mitt should have translated the 15% into dollars, what dollars he’s paid, and then had the ammo: “John Kerry paid 12%.” You know, this is what I mean. Our party, if you will, has this tendency to always be defensive about success. You know, the Wall Street Journal has a great piece on this. It’s here somewhere. I ought to find that right now. It’s all about how Romney could have turned this thing into a great teaching moment, and they say at the Wall Street Journal in this piece that Romney came by and talked to them at their editorial meeting and said that he didn’t think that he, as president, could spearhead a program of tax cuts.

Because of his own wealth, he wouldn’t have the credibility to be able to pull it off. Let’s see. I’m having trouble finding it. I guess I ought to wait ’til the break to find it because I know I’ve got it. Chris Christie. Chris Christie is calling for 10% income tax cut in New Jersey, and of course the Democrats are saying, “Well, that’s $7,266 a year for somebody earning a million dollars, and it’s only $275 for somebody earning $100,000. That’s not even a grocery bill for a family of five!” So here’s a 10% across-the-board tax cut and the Democrats in New Jersey automatically oppose it because of the dollar amounts involved. This is pure demagoguery. This is how it happens. All Christie is trying to do is take the next step in economic growth for New Jersey.

He wants that money kept in the private sector. That $7,000 that that millionaire will not have to give to government is gonna be put to use somewhere in the private sector, and the Democrats just can’t stand that. But it’s gonna be put to use somewhere in the private sector and it might be spent on hiring somebody. What did I do with this thing? I know I had it here. Don’t tell me I put it aside. I couldn’t-a put it aside. It’s gotta be here. I’ll have to find it during the break. I know I can find it ’cause it’s really small font, it printed very small, which ticked me off. Maybe I made other adjustments for it. But they did say that Romney has and I’m gonna find it because there’s a way here to have turned this into a great, great teachable moment.

It’s not there. This is entirely frustrating. I had it, now all the… I’m not gonna waste your time looking for it in a different stack. I promise I’ll find this. (interruption) Well, I know. He paid his taxes, unlike Tim Geithner. Of course. There’s all kinds of ways to have done this, and he just came across as defensive. Here, this is MSNBC, Sergeant Schultz speaking to somebody named Joy-Ann Reid. I have no clue who “Joy-Ann Reid” is, I don’t know why she’s on television, but she is, and Sergeant Schultz said, “Do you think the president would beat Mitt Romney in the Rust Belt states today — Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois — because the economy is so terribly important.”

REID: Talk radio is a tiny sliver of the universe of the 300-and-plus (gasp) million American people. (gasp) So Mitt Romney, I think, has made an error trying to run to right-wing talk radio, (gasp) which really isn’t a majority view. (gasp) So I think the president has that advantage. Number two, (gasp) the Occupy movement has really done one great thing: It’s focused people on inequality —


REID: — (gasp) and if anybody represents the 1%, it’s Mitt Romney. So I think that the president is looking pretty good going into 2012.

RUSH: The Occupy movement is a dismal failure (even Pelosi’s running away from it), but you see here that she’s out there saying that that he’s making a mistake trying to impress us as though that’s what’s Romney’s trying to do. Is Romney trying to impress talk radio? Does anybody get the idea that’s what he’s trying to do? Here’s Chris Christie (by the way, who has endorsed Romney) with some advice. This was on MSNBC this morning. Bob Woodward, the Washington Post, was on there, and asked Chris Cristie: “What’s your reaction to Governor Romney saying he paid only 15% effective tax rate?”

CHRISTIE: I’ve released all of my tax returns, and I did it during the campaign. I went back a number of years and released my tax returns, and I released them every year after I filed them — right after I filed them — to the public in New Jersey so they can see everything. So let’s get all the facts out there, see what the tax returns say, and then I think everybody will know that this story’s really probably much ado about nothing.

RUSH: Quick time-out.

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