Gilbert, South Carolina (CNN) - Mitt Romney opened up a new line of attack against his main South Carolina rival Newt Gingrich Friday, calling on the former speaker to release the full report from the ethics investigation that led to his downfall in Congress.
"You know it's going to get out before the general election. He ought to get it out now," Romney said on Friday.
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Gingrich was reprimanded by the House and ordered to pay a $300,000 penalty in 1997 for violating an ethics rule. The episode marked the first time in the nation's history a speaker was penalized by Congress.
Romney urged Gingrich to make the full ethics report available to South Carolina voters before Saturday's primary.
"I wouldn't release things piecemeal. Do it all at once," he told reporters after an event in Gilbert, South Carolina.
A Gingrich spokesman brushed off the attack and said the report is already available to read online.
"Mitt should go to Thomas at the Library of Congress website and search 'already been released' and read the report in the Congressional record," R.C. Hammond said.
The report appears on the Library of Congress web site as well as the website of the House Ethics Committee.
Romney's communications director said the governor was calling on Gingrich to release underlying documents he had provided to the ethics committee during the investigation.
"Given Speaker Gingrich's newfound interest in disclosure and transparency, and his concern about an 'October surprise,' he should authorize the release of the complete record of the ethics proceedings against him," Gail Gitcho said.
"We know from Newt's own statements that he turned over a million pages of documents. Nancy Pelosi, who sat on the ethics committee, said that this information contains damaging information. Nancy Pelosi is gleeful over the information she has on Speaker Gingrich, and Speaker Gingrich is concerned enough to threaten her with a rules violation. If Nancy Pelosi has this information, Barack Obama has this information."
The former Massachusetts governor recently faced disclosure questions of his own, as reporters pressed him on his varying responses on when he would release his tax records.
"I've indicated that I will release my tax returns. I'll do so when they're prepared which would be April, first, middle part of April and then they'll all come out at one time," Romney said.
He added that there would be multiple returns released.
"There will be more than one year. I don't know the exact number," Romney said.
One of Romney's top surrogates, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, chastised the news media for repeatedly raising the question this week.
"The people of South Carolina are not talking about tax returns," Haley said.
"I've heard more people wondering about why you people aren't asking about ethics reports and ethics problems with the Gingrich campaign and nobody is talking about tax returns," Haley added.
Romney brushed off the boos he received during Thursday's CNN debate when he suggested that releasing his returns would provide ammunition to his opponents.
"So different campaigns cheer and boo different people based upon the interest of their campaign," Romney said.
Romney dismissed the notion that he mishandled the issue.
"I can't possibly tell you that everything I do in a campaign is perfect," Romney said.
The GOP frontrunner appeared to downplay expectations ahead of Saturday's primary, noting Gingrich's regional advantage as a southerner.
"Speaker Gingrich is from a neighboring state, well-known, popular in the state. And so I knew we'd have a long road ahead of us," Romney said.
"And frankly to be in a neck-and-neck race at this last moment is kind of exciting," he added.
The former Massachusetts governor acknowledged he may not be able wrap up the nomination as quickly as many pundits once predicted.
"We're gonna go on for a long race and I think I've got the staying power and a message that I think connects with people."
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wrong turn - Choosing a MORAL CHARACTER LIKE NEWT is lIKE choosing PALY BOY to run this country!!!
Two words... Bill Clinton. Two more... John Kennedy. Two more: Case closed.
PS...releasing tax returns would make anyone squirm. No one wants to be audited. It's just a pain in the....lower back.
Romney, you need to release your tax return now. What are you actually hiding?
“Poll Newt leads by 6 in South Carolina” Politico
Romney actually made ALL this money on the backs of other American companies (some gone belly up) in the United States of America. Why should he choose to bank it in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes in the United States?
This does not spell one for an aspiring president...who can't clearly see through this logic?
And you release your tax records, you greasy crook.
Romney 2012! Gingrich has too much bagage with his adulterous failed marriages and ethics violations. He is a walking disaster!
Alex ... wake up and understand the facts or stop posting. Having money off-shore does not mean you avoid U.S. taxes. Mitt pay taxes on that money twice. Once as earned income — again a 15% hit on dividends. You're either jealous, stupid, or both.
Mitt Romney is right on track to ask for the ethics report and $310,000.00 fine record on Newt Gingrich. Romney should release his tax returns like his father did decades ago. Romney said he would replace Obama's 100% private national health insurance program with his better plan. The position is more Christian than returning to 40,000,000 American with no health care. The disruption could end in no coverage because Congress decides this as mentioned. Fix-ups might work better. Evangelicals should ask themselves how Christian is violating public trust and denying ill people health care.
"You pull your pants down first!" "NO, you pull yours down first" "No YOU!" "NO YOU!!!" Fact is both of them should just drop drawers and run for cover.
Oh Boy. Newt is going to take Romney and Santorum down with him. That will leave Paul.
That's a weak response from a weak candidate. Thank God neither Newt or Mitt will ever be President.
Vote for Mitt Romney can save America and beat Omaha. Warning Newt is wonderful lairs and dishonest his life and therefore he becomce President get worst lairs and no promise and possible affairs more than image his secret!! What you want Newt as President?? But He cannot beat Omaha. He told gays go vote Omaha???? SC people you are blind and trust him???? Who he is??? Sc people or Christian vote for Mitt Romney his right wait tax on April because of paper work send by company before April he cannot process it the forms. What is wrong with Newt s smart until stupid that question. He will fail as president . Dont vote Newt!!! Vote for Mitt Romney yu will be never wrong one. Mitt can only beat Omaha postive.
"I worry about poster called "Jariv"; he/she is so far up Romney's a** how can he/she keep from tripping over the furniture and injuring something..."
Based on the comments I've seen elsewhere, he is Mr. Jari Valledares and he posts his nonsense all over the web. He's probably a paid troll since he works so hard to spout the same senseless stuff so often.
Truth, Romney's tax issues or his use of offshore accounts is not about "leftists", why do you keep throwing up the same stuff? This is about choosing the right Conservative candidate, you just seem a bit...well obsessed. Time will come soon enough when their big machine kicks into gear....for now I'm more curious to see who the GOP chooses.
If you release your tax return
Let's stop and think about SC. It is like Iowa. FUll of racists and crazy religious zealots - the true Republican party.
Wire Palladin, S. F.
Fair – The point is that your job creating hero, the Caymen Kid, did not create jobs during the best of times. Obama inherited the Bush mess, and has seen the growth of over 3 million jobs.
Wre – according to your post, the "Bush Mess" was a "the best of times". So what is it? You just can't have it both ways.