July 19th, 2012
04:08 PM ET
2 years ago

McCain again in spotlight over Romney tax returns, Bachmann

(CNN) – Sen. John McCain seems to be confirming his "maverick" nickname this week.

The Vietnam war hero, longtime Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee made headlines in recent days both for bucking members of his own party and for staunchly defending the current GOP nominee against attacks. And Thursday, he pushed back against both parties for their reliance on big dollar donors who he says are corrupting the American political system.

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"I promise you there will be scandals, and there will be major scandals," McCain told CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview set to air Thursday at 9 p.m. ET. "There's too much money washing around for there not to be scandals. If you think Watergate was big, if you think Abramoff was big, just wait and you'll see what happens in this thing."

McCain has long advocated campaign finance reform, including sponsoring the McCain-Feingold legislation in 2002 that overhauled campaign spending laws. Since then courts have struck down various aspects of that measure.

Earlier this week McCain voted with fellow Senate Republicans to block the DISCLOSE Act, a piece of Democratic legislation that would require greater transparency into who is behind much of the secretive, often negative campaign advertising filling the airwaves this election season.

McCain said he was opposed to the bill because it had different rules for labor unions, which he said were getting off easy.

Later in the week, however, McCain hit back against members of his own party, including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, for their requests that various government agencies investigate whether the government has been infiltrated by Muslim extremists.

Among the issues they raise is a claim that long-time aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, has three family members connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and is at risk of being influenced by her family members. The members of Congress want to know how she holds a high level security clearance.

McCain made a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday criticizing the call for an investigation and defending Abedin.

Asked by Morgan if the floor speech meant "we've got the real John McCain back," McCain said he'd argue "I never left."

"The point is that I know Huma. I know her from travelling with her, I know of her reputation, I know this great story that we love - the immigrant who comes to, you know, to our country and does so well. And it was really unfair to do what was done to her," McCain said, adding he wasn't only targeting Bachmann in his speech.

"I hope that this sends a message to other people on both right and left that we shouldn't attack people's character unfairly," McCain said.

Bachmann, who refused to answer questions from CNN about the letter on Wednesday, said in a statement that her and her colleagues' request was being "distorted."

"I encourage everyone, including media outlets, to read them in their entirety," Bachmann wrote. "The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and ask for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical group's access to top Obama administration officials."

McCain also finds himself in the unique position of being one of the few Americans who has seen more than two years of Mitt Romney's income tax returns. Romney, who made his own bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, reportedly provided 20 years of tax returns to the team vetting potential vice presidential picks for McCain. That's significantly more than the two years of information Romney has made public this cycle.

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.

Democrats, in their effort to get 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.

McCain says that's not the case.

"I can personally vouch for the fact that there was nothing in his tax return that would in anyway be disqualifying for him to be a candidate. Okay?" McCain said Wednesday.

"We're getting into areas now that are improper for me to talk about," McCain added. "Because when people gave us all those records we agreed to confidentiality. The only reason I'm saying what I'm saying now is because of the scurrilous, scurrilous Chicago style sleaze intimations with no basis in fact that there might have been something wrong with his tax returns, which is disgraceful."

CNN's Ashley Killough and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • John McCain • Michele Bachmann • Mitt Romney • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Marty, FL

    Romney released 23 years of tax returns to Sen. McCain for VP. The American people deserve at least half of those returns for presidential consideration.

    Sorry, don't trust what Romney is hiding.

    July 19, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    McCain has long advocated campaign finance reform, including sponsoring the McCain-Feingold legislation in 2002 that overhauled campaign spending laws.
    ------------------–
    He also voted to repeal it, which eventually gave us Citizens United.

    July 19, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. JPX

    The Republicans hounded Obama for years to release his birth certificate so I don't believe that the requests for Romney's tax returns are unreasonable.

    July 19, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Independent For President Obama

    To Romneynites: You people don't need to see or know anything about me just vote for me and shut up. The rich don't care about you. You are just collateral damage Romney supporters.

    July 19, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    GOP is a plain CULT. Period.

    July 19, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Patriot

    McCain knows more than what he said....otherwise Mitt Romney coukd have released his 20 years tax returns already. Running for President is a very serious matter, it's like putting the nuclear weapon in one's hand and ordering him to blow it up. If McCain is loyal to America he will not allow Romney to run for President. Not releasing his tax returns and offshore bank accounts only translate to one thing he's a traitor to his country. HSBC have shady deals, I wonder what Romney is hiding.

    July 19, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Montykoolaid

    Regardless of his lies at BAIN, regardless of his terrible outsourcing of American jobs to make a quick buck. Regardless of his disgusting tax breaks that BAIN lobbyists fought for in congress that he now takes advantage of (Like the $77,000 deduction for your dancing horse, glad all us middle class tax payers got to pay for your dancing horse). Regardless of all that I am not voting for Mitt because of his platform.

    1) Cut taxes for the rich despite the fact that they are paying the lowest tax rate in decades. Dont cut taxes for the poor and middle class.

    2) Banks and Corporations can regulate themselves and should write their own rules and do what they want. Yeah, that works well. Except for the banks that caused the 2008 economic collapse that brought the world economy to its knees and almost destroyed the U.S. Oh, and Chase losing 7-8 BILLION dollars of customer money, oh, and LIBOR interest rates being manipulated for the greedy profit of bankers and CEOs at the expense of EVERYONE else.

    3) I want Freedom and Liberty for everyone! Now shut up as the GOP runs around and takes everyones freedoms and liberties.

    July 19, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  8. Thomas

    @Critical Thinking
    Once Mitt Romney picks Condi Rice as his VP, it will be; GAME, SET, MATCH...

    It's time: BO MUST GO!

    Critical Thinking ? You must have received your PHD from " What'saMattaU " , Rice was GW Bush's National Security Adviser when 911 happened , she should have been replaced immediately , The only reason she stayed was she was of political use for the look see show Media . She took her eye off the ball , please !

    She said she had no intention of being a VP , thats see if she keeps her word .

    July 19, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Obama 2012: More American than Mittens' bank accounts.

    WHERE ARE YOUR FBARs FROM 2010 MITTENS?????

    July 19, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. rrd

    Why isn't Obama running on his record instead of running on Romney's tax returns? Talk about diversions.

    July 19, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Oh John , It's Geritol time !

    YOU SUPPORTED CITIZENS UNITED REMEMBER ?

    July 19, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Rednip

    Nice choice of words, as even a felony wouldn't 'disqualify' him from running for office. Morgan's follow up question should have been "did he have any years in which he didn't pay any taxes?' or 'did he take a amnesty program from the IRS or pay a penalty?'

    July 19, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. AgrippaMT

    Romney's rrogance with regard to his tax returns is truly frightening and bodes ill for our nation if he is elected. The recent comment by his wife on the same issue sounds just like Marie Antoinette's "let the eat cake" remark.

    July 19, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. California Gary

    Nice to see those occasional glimpses of the integrity I thought McCain had until he sold his soul to run in 2008. He, and a few others in the GOP, must be appalled at what they see their party becoming. GOP moderate? On the verge of extinction.

    July 19, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Joi Gibson

    Speaking of unfair character attacks, what is with this "Chicago-style" tactics that is always attributed to President Obama. A few bad apples in Chicago does not mean the President employs those tactics. In fact, Karl Rove is the worst of the worst when it comes to sleezy. Just look at the nasty things he said about McCain's adopted daughter when he was running against GWB.

    And if Romney can release 20 years of tax returns to McCain, he can release them to the American public. His arrogance (and his wife's) is very distasteful. I guess it's okay between two rich guys, but us little people have no right to see his tax returns even though he is asking folks to trust him to be the president. Humph!!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN/FIRST LADY MICHELLE 2012!!!

    July 19, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Darryl

    There's 1 thing about John Mc Cain, He is very loyal to the Country first. So im sure he knows plenty about Romney. If the biggest scandel hits this country with Romneys Taxes being totally bad news, it could totally destroy the Republican Party not to mention the whole political system of Transparancy & Trust with the American people. And if the world gets news of it, it could destroy the United States Honor as other people around the world see us.Romney beeter do something real quick and get this out of the way befor it gets any worse. Now that this has come up with John Mc Cain ? It's going to end real, real quick.

    July 19, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Laverne

    This man is applying for the highest job of the land and thinks he should not have to disclose his financial records is just crazy. Obama was demanded to show his birth certificate and many thought that was okay when other presidents was not required to show theirs. Some Americans should be ashamed of themselves for the right out bigotry and double standards. John McCain is full of crap in the sense he has voted with the republicans with some of the most devisive legislation to date and yet try to portray himself as an independent thinker. He is not!

    July 19, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    OBummer is such a con, and all you trolls wont research what he is doing.

    July 19, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. vic , nashville ,tn

    I like Mc Cain , 2010 reelection he really scared us

    July 19, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Veteran from New York

    Running for the Presidency of the United States is nothing like a job interview. As a prospect, you don't set the rules the employer which the people set the rules. It dosen't have to be a legal requirement but if the people ask for it, you release it provided that you do not have anything to hide. If that President Obama that carries all this offshore accounts, he will be labeled as Un-American, Foreign, Un-Patriotic etc. The headlines will read that he has no interest in the affairs of this great country, he has no trust in American businesses that's the reason he invested all his monies overseas.
    Fair is Fair. Romney is not a regular citizen engolfed by greed, trying to miximize his profits, he's running for the President of the United States, that's why his taxes are relevant. I understand there are a few blind that will vote for Romney not because he has anything to offer but because he's not black and I understand that, that's what democracy is all about. It's nothing tricky about being transparent. He needs to release his taxes go to jail or not release them and lose the election. It's a simple choice!

    July 19, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Dan

    Since Senator McCain says there is nothing in Romney's tax returns, then Romney should release them so Americans can make an informed decision.

    July 19, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Nice to see those occasional glimpses of the integrity I thought McCain had until he sold his soul to run in 2008."

    Well, even when they're deep into the dementia and winding down phase of life, they still exhibit rare moments of clarity.

    July 19, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Jen

    All politicians are corrupt, I just want to one that can fix the economy in the country!

    July 19, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. MEWoof

    What does Romney's tax returns have to do with our country falling apart. Will his tax returns create jobs? Will his tax returns take the U.S. out of debt? Let us see Obama's college transcripts, better yet, his official birth certificate. Quit the smoke and mirrors, Mr. President, and stick with the issues. Oh I forgot, you cannot run on your record. The Democrats are bullies, plain and simple.

    July 19, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Ed1

    What we should be asking for is our Congress and Senate returns for the past three years they will not do that. I would love to see Reids and Nancy returns but they will not give them along with just about every person in the Senate and Congress talk about calling the kettle black.

    I would say 99% of the people couldn't even understand a tax return that voted for Obama.

    July 19, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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