WASHINGTON -- Small business owners received two seemingly contradictory messages on Wednesday from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, campaigning in Ohio.
The first message, delivered early in the day in Westerville, was that small business owners should "not be expecting a huge cut in taxes." The second message, delivered later in Shaker Heights, was that "small business is crushed by taxes," and that Romney plans to bring "tax rates down for small business."
The discrepancy illustrates a conundrum facing the Romney campaign as it barnstorms through a state many Republicans view as a "must-win:" How to sell an economic plan built upon income tax cuts for wealthy Americans and business owners as a way to spur hiring to voters who are more likely to work for businesses than to own them.
Small business owners are a major component of Romney's campaign message -- examples are present in nearly every stump speech -- where they help illustrate who stands to benefit from his proposed foreign policy, economic plans, and regulatory reforms.
Romney's small business-focused pitch started off fine Wednesday morning, according to The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, who reported that Romney told the crowd, "We have got to reform our tax system. Small businesses most typically pay taxes at the individual tax rate. And so our individual income taxes are the ones I want to reform. Make them simpler. I want to bring the rates down."
But then he switched his message. "By the way, don't be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I'm also going to lower deductions and exemptions," Romney said. "But by bringing rates down we will be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people."
By the afternoon, however, the line about how people shouldn't expect "a huge cut in taxes," was gone, replaced with a story of an unnamed owner of an unidentified small business in St. Louis, who Romney said, "calculated how much of what his business makes goes to taxes every year. Federal income taxes, federal payroll taxes, state income taxes, state sales taxes, highway taxes -- gasoline taxes, that is -- and the like. He added it all up, and it was over half of what he made was going to tax."
Shortly after the event, the Romney campaign issued a press release highlighting this section of his remarks.
Romney argued that President Barack Obama's plan to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for people with more than $250,000 in annual income would hurt small business owners. The Internal Revenue Service, however, reported that only about 3 percent of small business owners would be adversely affected if the tax cuts expire.
Romney's argument appeared geared toward convincing voters that taxes would increase on small business revenues, leaving them less money to invest in new employees. But that's not what's being proposed. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would affect only those business owners, and others, who make more than $250,000 in take-home pay.
Nevertheless, Romney's argument is appealing to some Ohio voters, like Cynthia Beitman of Westerville. "People run small businesses," Beitmann said to HuffPost, explaining that she doesn't mind if middle-class Americans like her get fewer deductions and exemptions on their taxes, as long as Romney lowers tax rates for small businesses.
Also on HuffPost:
Romney Staff at Iowa Cafe: "Stuff Got Broke"
A campaign stop by Mitt Romney and his staffers at an Iowa cafe left Dianne Bauer, owner of Main Street Cafe, fuming: She <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/romney-leaves-mess-at-local-cafe_n_1597257.html" target="_hplink">complained</a> about damaged property, Secret Service blocking bathroom access and Romney not introducing himself to the cafe's staff. "Stuff got broke," Bauer said.
Obama vs. Ohio Deli Owner
While most small businesses like free advertising, Debra Krause-McDonnell, the owner of Krause's grocery store in Cincinnati <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/debra-krause-mcdonnell_n_1773149.html?utm_hp_ref=small-business" target="_hplink">had a bone to pick with President Obama after his ad featured her storefront without her consent</a>.
Romney Can't Identify a Donut
In <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/mitt-romney-struggles-to-identify-a-donut" target="_hplink">video obtained by BuzzFeed</a>, Romney attempts to identify a donut but after a few stammers says "Can you see that one of those chocolate, um, uh, chocolate goodies finds its way to our ride?"
Hermain Cain and the Dead Small Business Rabbit
With several <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/30/herman-cain-smoking-ad-bob-schieffer_n_1066039.html" target="_hplink">strange advertisements</a> during his campaign, it seems fitting that former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain would continue the trend after his campaign's suspension. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/herman-cain-new-ad_n_1379583.html" target="_hplink">The "Rabbit" ad</a> for Cain's <a href="http://SickOfStimulus.com" target="_hplink">SickOfStimulus.com</a> features a young girl placing a rabbit into a catapult while saying "This is small business under the current tax code." The rabbit is then launched from the catapult and "killed" in mid-air by a man holding a rifle. Another Cain ad used a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYN-Awrq3og&context=C4830a86ADvjVQa1PpcFN1bXIVcqsE-PGGTXrjsiOg2M7br15eYTI=" target="_hplink">flopping, out-of-water goldfish</a> to represent the economy after the stimulus.
John Kerry's Cheesesteak Order
Pat's King Of Steaks in Philadelphia is famous along with rival Geno's Steaks for strict ordering rules, complete with commandments on their window that read "If you make a mistake, don't panic, just go to the back of the line and start over." John Kerry should have paid closer attention. During a July 2009 visit, <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/restaurants/Photo_oop_Kerry_eats_a_cheesesteak_hoagie__with_Swiss.html" target="_hplink">Kerry ordered Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak</a> which isn't an option at Pat's, where cheez whiz, Provolone and American are offered. Pat's claimed that if Kerry were elected, Swiss would be added to the menu. We know how that worked out.
Newt Gingrich Stiffs Small Businesses
After a debt laden campaign, some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/gingrich-campaign-vendors-paid_n_1416084.html" target="_hplink">small businesses are still waiting for payment</a> from former Republican candidate and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. These debts include $7,439.62 of printed campaign materials from Las Vegas Color Graphics, $5,000 for signs from Florida's Insite Political and $24,000 for ad productions from Florida's Noiseworks.
Gary Bauer's Botched Pancake Flip
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 2000, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer participated in the Bisquick Pancake-Flipping Contest. As Bauer tracked his high flying pancake after the flip, he managed to take a tumble off the stage, causing the crowd to gasp.
Palin and the Turkey
(Interview at 2:50) In November 2008 Sarah Palin visited Triple D farm near her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska to <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/11/sarah-palin-pardons-a-turkey.html" target="_hplink">grant the traditional Thanksgiving pardon to one turkey</a>. Shortly after the pardon however, Palin took questions from reporters with a farmer in the background clearly slaughtering other turkeys and birds. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow described the device being used behind Palin as a "grinder" for slaughtering poultry. That was incorrect.
Romney's Lemonade Gaffe
While celebrating July 4 in New Hampshire, Romney took a break to guzzle lemonade. When asked how it tasted <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/romneys-lemonade-gaffe-what-was-he-thinking_n_1652138.html" target="_hplink">Romney replied</a> "Lemon. Wet. Good."
Romney and "CookieGate"
Business surged for Pennsylvania's Bethel Bakery after Romney joked about its cookies: "I'm not sure about these cookies," Romney told a woman at the table. "They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the 7-11 bakery, or whatever." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/cookiegate-romney-cookie_n_1449848.html" target="_hplink">"CookieGate"</a> was great publicity for Bethel, in business since 1955.