(CNN) – Republican Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that Mitt Romney's tax returns in the 2008 vice presidential vetting process did not factor into the senator's decision to pick Sarah Palin instead.
Romney, who had ended his own presidential campaign in the 2008 GOP primary, reportedly provided McCain's team with more than 20 years of tax returns, significantly more than the amount of information Romney has made public this time around.
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Democrats, in their full-court press urging Romney to release more tax returns, now ask why Romney was willing to give so many documents to McCain, but won't do the same publicly this year. Some have questioned whether McCain saw something in Romney's tax information four years ago that discouraged him from picking Romney as his running mate.
"Of course not," McCain told Politico on Tuesday. "I don't know what depths these people won't reach. Obviously, it's just outrageous. That's just outrageous. It shows the – it's so disgraceful for them to allege something that they have absolutely no knowledge of."
McCain maintained his campaign selected Palin, who was a first-term governor of Alaska at the time, "because we thought that Sarah Palin was the better candidate."
He continued: "Why did we not take [Tim] Pawlenty, why did we not take any of the other 10 other people. Why didn't I? Because we had a better candidate, the same way with all the others. ... Come on, why? That's a stupid question."
Romney has released his 2010 tax returns and an estimate for 2011, with a promise to release the official documents for last year once they're ready. He filed an extension with the Internal Revenue Service, meaning he may not put out his returns until the October filing deadline.
McCain has consistently stood by his pick in Palin, saying she was the most qualified person and most capable of energizing the Republican Party.
"I admire and respect her and I'm proud of our campaign," McCain said on Fox News in March, answering questions about a recent HBO film about the McCain-Palin ticket. "I'm grateful she ran with me."
McCain, who endorsed Romney this cycle one day after the Iowa caucuses, took issue with reports of his comments on Tuesday.
"Some in the media have chosen to take my answer today, in response to the question of why I did not select Governor Romney as my vice presidential nominee, out of context. I selected Sarah Palin because she was the best fit for my campaign, and my decision had nothing to do with the bogus tax return attacks currently being waged by the Obama campaign. I have the highest respect for Governor Romney and his record of public service, and he will make an outstanding president," McCain said in a statement.
– CNN's Robert Yoon contributed to this report.
Considering what John McCain was looking for in a Vice Presidential Candidate, for him Sarah Palin was indeed a better candidate. He was looking for a puppet, someone who wouldn't get in his way and challenge him for leadership. He was simply looking for a show piece who would do exactly as told. Though Romney definitely demonstrates he is a puppet, McCain didn't know that at the time he was making his VP choice. The only thing I don't understand is what in all of the world made him think Sarah Palin was a puppet. Though she was far away in Alaska, she was creating quite a stir and name for herself over there. What on earth made John McCain think that Sarah Palin would actually come to the main land and submit herself to his every direction and command. WHAT AN INSULTING VIEW JOHN McCAIN AND HIS CAMPAIGN MANAGERS HAD FOR WOMEN. WHAT AN INSULTING VIEW THEY HAD OF SARAH PALIN! And this is coming from a Democrat!!!
Palin would be a better choice for President than Romney in 2012. That's how much trouble the GOP is in now.
Question is, is anybody with a brain in the GOP going to do anything about it?
Howard, what's a "bafoon"?
OH MY GAWD!!! What does that tell you about Romney? All you need to know. Dumber than dumb Palin was a better choice to be one step away from the Oval Office than Mitt Romney.
i don't know what that makes Mitt, but it made my day. Make for a great campaign ad if you ask me. Thanks again, John.
The fact that McCain is still defending the pick of Sarah Palin pretty much speaks for itself. He will never admit that picking her was a mistake.
And here I thought all comedy would be over till the debates. Boy, was I wrong.
So Romney didn't just lose his presidential runs, he even lost his VP run. To Sarah Palin. That's like losing a kickball game to a paraplegic.
The president may not have to wait another month. He now has enough ammo to run a new ad ever week on what republicans are saying right now till Nov.
Maybe if conservatives didn't lock Ron Paul out of the convention.
The Repugnants continue to dig their hole deeper. Look at the stupid way they've tried to explain the "was at Bain/was not at Bain" problem by coming up with the ludicrous idea of "retroactive retirement". Then they trot out McSame to shore up the "there's nothing amiss in Rob-money's taxes" argument, and what does Johnny OverTheHill do? He insults Rob-money some more by calling him less qualified than Sarah Palin, who is universally understood to have been the least qualified VP candidate in the history of the universe. By November, I expect there won't be a single person in the non-Fox News world who believes that Mittler is either honest or competent.
Does this mean Romney is looking for a game changer now? Uh oh.....
I see Crazy Eyes Bachmann on the short list. Short bus list.
Well, I guess he had to say something – but not that!
Tax returns aside, McCain is saying that Romney is not as good a choice as Palin!!?? Really? Ouch.