Romney: I can bridge the partisan divide

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns in Muskego, Wis., Saturday, March 31, 2012.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns in Muskego, Wis., March 31, 2012.
AP Photo/Steven Senne

(CBS News) MUSKEGO, Wis. - Mitt Romney said on Saturday that he will work to end the political polarization that has stymied policymaking in Washington - remarks that echoed then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's promises in 2008.

In response to a question at a town hall meeting here about the partisan divide in Congress, Romney said that as governor of Massachusetts, he was able to pass legislation even though the Legislature was overwhelmingly Democratic.

"I didn't criticize in a public and personal way the Senate president or the speaker of the House," he GOP presidential front-runner said. "They would attack me because that's what Republicans and Democrats do to each other. At one point, one of the two of them -- I won't mention which one -- sent me a note. And he said, 'I've noticed that you don't respond to my attacks, I'm going to stop attacking you.' And there began a better relationship."

Romney suggested that politicians have to stop thinking only in terms of being Republicans or Democrats, a theme reminiscent of President Obama's 2008 comments that there was no red America or blue America, just a United States of America.

But there's still a campaign going on, and Romney, despite his talk of partisan cooperation, harshly criticized Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday for his comments about the administration's proposed global minimum tax.

"If you're here as an American company, well we're going to tax you for enterprises wherever they are in the world," Romney told an audience at the Faith and Family forum in Pewaukee. "Doesn't he understand that just means that our enterprises will leave and go somewhere else? They just kill economic freedom. They make it harder and harder for our economy to grow and put people back to work."

Biden on Wednesday said at a manufacturing plant in Davenport, Iowa that the Obama administration wants to cut tax rates on manufacturers by 20 percent, and cut them even more for high-tech manufacturing, although he did not specify a rate. "We want to create (what's called) a global minimum tax, because American taxpayers shouldn't be providing a larger subsidy for investing abroad than investing at home," Biden also said.

Several conservative commentators and bloggers took the remarks to mean that the vice president was describing a tax increase on some corporations. The White House has said that the goal of the proposal, called the international minimum tax, is "to eliminate tax incentives to ship jobs offshore by ensuring that all American companies pay a minimum tax on their overseas profits, preventing other countries from attracting American business through unusually low tax rates."

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    Sarah Huisenga is covering the Mitt Romney campaign for CBS News and National Journal.