An exclusive for Larry O’Connor and Breitbart TV. This is the talking point du jour from Team Romney, a heavy-handed attempt to shift attention from Mitt’s tax returns to Newt’s character and electability. (Go figure that they’re pushing this at the same time stories about his ex-wife are in the news.) If you’re unfamiliar with the particulars of Gingrich’s ethics reprimand, this NBC piece will fill you in. The ethics report itself is publicly available, but Team Mitt cares less about what’s in it than making Gingrich look shady for not releasing the background materials. Romney himself pushed for full disclosure at an appearance today with Nikki Haley, taking care (as all primary candidates do) to point to what Democrats might do with the information down the road as a reason for why we need damaging info on his opponent right now. (Sununu refers explicitly to an “October surprise.”) Although, in fairness, Pelosi — who was part of the ethics committee that looked into Gingrich’s ethics problem — has dropped hints about “conversations” she might be willing to have later about the investigation, unethical though that may be. Said Romney’s top advisor of the allegedly one million pages of background material that Newt hasn’t released, “It’s like a ticking time bomb, the ultimate oppo file.”
Newt’s response to Mitt? Bombs away:
He doesn’t release anything, he doesn’t answer anything, and he’s even confused about whether or not he will ever release anything and then he decides to pick a fight over releasing something?
He could have, today, released his tax records so the voters of South Carolina could discover something.
Hs father, by the way, released them a year before the election and released 12 years. His father didn’t stand around going “gee maybe I will, maybe I won’t.’ I think it’s really very confusing , because after, come on give me a break.
I refuse to take seriously any request from the Romney campaign to disclose anything, because they clear do not disclose anything on any level that involves him.
One problem for Romney that Gingrich doesn’t have is that even some of the big names on his own side think he should release his tax returns. Chris Christie, a potential VP, said so a few days ago; today Bob McDonnell, another potential VP, agreed. Even Scott Brown, who wouldn’t be a senator today without Romney’s help, is calling on him to disclose in order to deny Elizabeth Warren an easy class-warfare talking point. I find it hard to believe the ethics report doesn’t contain most of the damaging stuff Democrats learned about Gingrich at the time; they were looking to publicly embarrass the sitting Speaker, so what incentive did they have to bury the juicy stuff? But like I say, pressing Newt on this isn’t really about getting him to turn over mysterious documents. It’s simply an excuse to remind people of his ethics reprimand at a moment when Romney’s desperate for voters to think he’s the only electable candidate in the field.