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Forbes Talks Taxes at Hometown Rally

February 5, 1996

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) _ Steve Forbes is a well-known name around here, but his message beyond the flat tax is still a mystery to many of the people who consider him their neighbor.

``You get bits and pieces from the media, but I’d like to hear a little more than just catch words,″ said Judy Fitzpatrick of Somerset. ``There are other things beside the flat tax.″

Forbes spent about an hour Sunday at the Somerset County Administration Building where he picked up endorsements from county Republicans and talked to about 400 people crammed into the lobby.

Janice Reitman of Somerville stood beside Fitzpatrick wearing a small, blue ``Forbes For President″ button, looking over the crowd and eagerly awaiting the GOP presidential hopeful’s arrival.

``He’s refreshing, a breath of fresh air,″ Reitman said of the multimillionaire heir to the Forbes publishing business, who lives in nearby Bedminster.

She said she wanted to hear more about Forbes’ proposals. ``It’s not the usual political rhetoric. He came from just being a private citizen to somebody who’s running for president. It will be interesting to actually see the man and hear what he has to say.″

Forbes defended his flat tax proposal, arguing that it would eliminate taxes on savings, pensions, social security, inheritance and capital gains, and ``would rip away barriers to job-creating investments, so we not only create more jobs but better-paying jobs as well.″

Forbes proposed establishing Medicare savings accounts, reducing the size of government, setting congressional term limits and lowering interest rates by placing the dollar on a fixed measure of value.

Joan Vossen of Bridgewater, who said she is an independent, said Forbes has been ``portrayed unfairly ... as being an egghead.″ She said she was impressed, but not yet ready to vote for him.

``Change has to occur in Washington and it’s not occurring,″ she said. ``My concern is, that the flat tax is intelligent, he’s thought it out very carefully as have the other candidates, but will it happen?″

It was Forbes’ first political rally in New Jersey, a brief respite from a week of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire where he has emerged as a strong contender to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.

``All the polls show Steve gaining and that’s no surprise to us in Somerset County,″ said county Freeholder Director Peter Biondi.

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