Romney digs in: I will not be releasing more tax returns

posted at 4:41 pm on July 17, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

There’s a growing chorus insisting that Mitt Romney needs to release his tax returns, because otherwise, he’s the most secretive candidate since “Richard Nixon,” or something — but it isn’t just Democrats clamoring for him to do so, either. There’s a cadre of conservatives urging him to just bite the bullet and get it over with, too:

“He ought to release his returns,” former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, another prominent Republican, told conservative National Review Online. “Any time this campaign’s conversation is not about President Obama’s failed policies…then the [Romney] campaign isn’t talking about the right thing.”

Last week Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Mr. Romney’s personal finances were “fair game.”

And:

Strategic “advice” has been offered up on The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and in a series of high-profile tweets from NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch. …

On “Fox News Sunday” this week, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol called Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of tax returns “crazy.”

“He should release the tax returns tomorrow,” Mr. Kristol said. “You’ve got to release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns.”

Over on ABC’s “This Week,” conservative columnist George Will chimed in by observing that Romney was “losing at this point in a big way.” Mr. Will added: “I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didn’t get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest.”

It seems that Mitt Romney, however, is not to be persuaded. On Tuesday, he reiterated to the NJ that he is set on this point and will not be releasing any more of his personal tax returns:

“In the political environment that exists today, the opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy,” Romney said in an interview with National Review Online. “And I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.” …

Asked by the interviewer why he didn’t get rid of the off-shore tax accounts that have also become the subject of Obama campaign ads, Romney declined to offer a detailed explanation. He said only, “The world of finance is not as simple as some would have you believe.”

Allright, I’m gonna’ just ponder this out: I’m all about shutting down the Obama campaign’s bullying tactics and refusing to play the game on their terms; but then again, when it comes to the cheap populist appeals, Team Barack Obama has been known to play a damn good game.

Mitt Romney is a pretty judicious, pros-and-cons type of dude — while I highly doubt he did anything at all approaching illegality, he must think that his tax returns would provide Team Obama with more fodder for the anti-free enterprise, populist attacks. As legal and prudent as they can be, the general public probably wouldn’t be too receptive to “unpatriotic” offshore bank accounts or whatever else right now — the world of finance is a complex and tricky thing, and maybe it’s just not a good use of Mitt Romney’s time to be trying to explain hedge funds and whatnot when we need to be talking about broad economic solutions for our national economy.

Is it more worthwhile to let Team Obama keep harping on the “Romney is super-secretive meme,” which will eventually get put on the back-burner and with which they’ve already jumped the shark at least once, or to just let it all hang out and clear the air now while we still have months left to tinker with messaging? Even if Romney’s tax returns contain nothing at all untoward, I doubt they’d be able to tell Team Obama to stick that in their pipe and smoke it — Team Obama would find some way to hype their proffered image of Romney as a dastardly capitalist.

I honestly don’t know — Guy Benson and Conn Carroll offer two thorough, dissenting opinions if you’re looking for a little more analysis. So, what do you think? Should Mitt keep telling Team Obama to get lost, or just have out and be done with it?

So go the latest campaign shenanigans. Meanwhile, back at the ranch


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