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. bcm

    If he has nothing to hide, he should just return them like everyone else has. McCain doesn't care as long as someone (anyone) beats Obama. He never like him before he lost the election to him (his own fault partly because of the idiot Palin whom he chose over Romney) and he has hated him ever since. McCain should just go away instead of continuing to make himself look foolish.

    July 19, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. jane

    Regardless of who wins the presidency....God knows we need campaign finance reform...The White House is being sold to the highest bidder....unless you have mega bucks you're merely a thought

    July 19, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Jeff A

    Sentor John McCain congratulations for taking a stand and doing the right thing. Michele Bachman is ignorant and her words are hurtful and distgusting. What do her views say about those who elected her, very scary. With a mind so small I am surprised that she can tie her own shoes.

    July 19, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. Mark

    Nothing that will disqualify him as a candidate? Romney may have skirted by all these years with his taxes but there must be something the campaign does not want America to know about them. There is no rational reason otherwise not to release this information...the longer this goes on the worse he will look. If there is something bad in those filings and he has to admit it later it looks all the worse for hiding it in the first place. Whatever your affiliation you have to admit this is brilliant political strategy.

    July 19, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Coflyboy

    Riiiight! Although McCain is one of the few Republicans I (kinda) like, I still don't trust Republicans. 99% of what Republicans say is gibberish to the educated American. 98% of what they say is stretching the truth.

    July 19, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. jane

    To Ed1.....How ironic, it will also be the 99%ers who will be voting Obama back in office!

    July 19, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. The Film Professor

    If that is true, then why on earth is Willard stonewalling like this?

    July 19, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. David in FL

    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 |
    _____________________________________________________________
    If I had orchestrated a 4+ Trillion dollar spending plan promising a world full of hope and change and getting 8.3% unemployment because of my failed policies I would doing the same thing... avoid talking about it at all costs and try to charm my way out of it. And then I'd get everyone of my minions to do the same and repeat it over and over and over until we'd brainwashed as many people as we could. Exhibit A: Sniffit , Rudy NYC and the other regulars that have time to post 20 times a day on CNN boards.

    July 19, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Keith

    McCain. Your judgement and "vetting skills" lack a lot. After all, after all of your wisdom and judgement was applied, Sarah Palin was your choice. I don't think you know your hand from your foot.

    July 19, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. DB

    keep in mind when the president had a democratic controlled congress, he got us out of a recesssion, saved big banks, save the auto industry...got us out of Iraq aaaaaaaaaand passed a healthcare reform and consumer protection act...to name a few!!!!
    things we really turning around...thats why the stocks went from 8500 to now 13000, we are gaining measily 85K jobs now, but its better than losing 700K jobs a month...

    And you american people are asking why is the economy so sluggish now, why are we not creating more jobs, why is the GDP so low, why is the housing stuck......BECAUSE YOUR REPUBLICAN MORONS WHO TOOK OVER IN 2010 HAVE PUT A HALT ON EVERYTHING...WE HAVEN"T PASSED ANYTHING SINCE THEY GOT THERE!!!!! AND YOU WONDER WHY NOTHING IS GETTING DONE NOW???? ARE YOU SCRATCHING YOUR HEAD TO FIGURE THAT OUT....NO JOBS BILL PASS, NO TAX REFORM PASS, NO INFRUSTRUCTURE BILLS PASS, NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING...THEY ARE PULLING TEETH JUST TO GET THEM TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING ,UNEMPLOYMENT....BUT THE REPUBLICANS HAVE PASSED 33 TIMES TO REPEAL OBAMACARE, THAT THEY KNOW IS DEAD ON ARRIVAL!!!!!!! WHY OH WHY DON't YOU REPUBLICAN SUPPORTERS RECOGNIZE THIS...You are saying obama is taking our country over the cliff, but you have to admit you haven't seen the needle move ever since the republicans took over the house....THANKS FOR VOTING FOR OBSTRUCTION!!!!!!!

    July 19, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    Here's the real question: How many did McCain originally ask for? Why did Willard release over 20? Was it because McCain saw trouble (with maybe the first 10) and asked for a lot more? Someone please explain this to me.

    July 19, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. David in FL

    rd
    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 |
    _____________________________________________________________
    If I had orchestrated a 4+ Trillion dollar spending plan promising a world full of hope and change and getting 8.3% unemployment because of my failed policies I would doing the same thing... avoid talking about it at all costs and try to charm my way out of it. And then I'd get everyone of my minions to do the same and repeat it over and over and over until we'd brainwashed as many people as we could. Exhibit A: Sniffit , Rudy NYC and the other regulars that have time to post 20 times a day on CNN boards.

    July 19, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Robert

    I propose a trade: All of Romney's tax records for all of Obama's college transcripts. Fair enough?

    July 19, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. MikeL

    Bachmann is acting on information supplied by FBI and CIA agents that say their training manuals are being scrubbed of information on radical Islam in a dangerous way. Muslim brotherhood has been hired into homeland security to consult, and shortly after that is when the training manual were edited. Libraries at the intelligence agencies with books on radical Islam have been removed. All Bachmann is doing is asking for an investigation based on concerned raised by intelligence experts. She is not just making this up off the top of her head.

    July 19, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. MIttens Rmoney

    There is nothing in my returns that will affect my chances of becoming Lord Ruler over all you poor peons, uh, I mean President. You are all just unworthy to even see my finances and how many millions I have in secret bank accounts. I, King Romney of Golub, paid puppet of our Supreme Rulers the Koch Brothers have spoken.

    July 19, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. justwonderingwhy

    Romney doesn't want to release 20 years of tax returns. Obama didn't want to show his birth certificate. Both sides mak a big ruckus over these things. And it always sems to be when they don't want to talk about real issues, like how to fix this country for everyone. And we spend our time arguing among ourselves about these stupid things (just like they want us to) instead of asking the tough questions of both parties . Shame on us.

    July 19, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. SokrMom

    Nothing that would disqualify him as a candidate in McCain's opinion, perhaps. I would prefer the opinion of someone who is not a Republican, based on returns that are made public. Republicans never hold other Republicans responsible for anything. You would think that after electing George W. Bush, who ran the Country into the ground with huge deficits and a meritless war while at the same time giving Wall Street bankers and traders free reign to bring us right to the brink of another great depression, Republicans would be ashamed of themselves, but instead the GOP is pulling out all the stops to elect a one-percenter who wants to return us to the nonsense trickle-down policies that have destroyed the middle class.

    July 19, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Marty, FL

    MEWoof,
    The concept of Romney's tax reruns could very well create jobs. He invests in foreign countries instead of America, and Romney refuses to close loopholes that send American jobs overseas.

    Pres. Obama wants to close these loopholes and insourced jobs back to America. Let's have an intelligent debate and see Romney's returns if he has nothing to hide.

    July 19, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. Debby

    Well McCain is a straight shooter thats good enough for me.

    July 19, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. okc

    Why doesn't Obuma show a birth certificate.....a certified state one....not the uncertified hospital one..................and not just tell us it has been certified by the Republican Govenor. JUST PRODUCE IT, then I too will call for 12 years of taxes................

    July 19, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Ed1

    Jane

    Only if you continue to vote stupid like I did the first time will not happen again.

    You need to put the Kool Aid down and see the snake oil salesman Obama is I was fooled once will not happen again.

    July 19, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Pot calling the kettle .......

    Romney is bought and paid for by the Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers and everyone knows it, he's a tool for big money. At least the current pres has been for the middle class from day one, and has not deviated. He's fighting for the little guy, going after terrorists who seek to harm America and he's called an anti American foreigner?? Glen Beck and Limbaugh are the nut job antiAmericans. Keep the lies going nut jobs its funny, I love the new one about the villain in Batman named Bain.

    July 19, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. AgeofInsanity

    McCain is eminently qualified to speak of political scandals especially where big donors are concerned. We remember all too well the Keating Five Savings and Loan scandal where John Sidney McCain III was implicated. He is certainly speaking from experience and this is one time the old fool should be heeded.

    Only the rich and ignorant vote Republican.

    July 19, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Lew

    Thank-you Mr McCain, for your unbiased opinion.

    July 19, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. Zil Zerimar

    Personally vouch? You are a senator not a tax expert.

    July 19, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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