Washington (CNN) – A top Mitt Romney strategist insisted Friday the debate over whether the GOP contender should release more of his tax information has "stopped hurting." But a new report from a recent Wisconsin focus group comes to a different conclusion – suggesting his refusal to shed more light on his finances raises trust issues with pivotal voters.
"It's not new information," was the case made by the senior Romney strategist, who discussed the issue only on condition of anonymity. His take: that voters who are going to be moved by the tax debate have already moved to the Obama column.
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But veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart's take on his latest Annenberg Center focus group suggest there are still potential downsides for Governor Romney.
Hart's discussion was with 12 suburban women in the Milwaukee area; eight of the 12 were undecided voters, the others split evenly between President Obama and Governor Romney.
Interestingly, Hart said the women had deep respect for the tough choices made by their Republican Gov. Scott Walker – even if they didn't necessarily agree with all of his solutions. Hart wrote most of the women felt Walker "is providing strong leadership and hard choices that these women feel President Obama is failing to make."
But he also said they were not big personal fans of Romney - "suffers from John Kerryitis: he is distant, rich, elite and somebody who makes people feel uncomfortable."
On the tax issue, Romney's refusal to release more information "creates a sense of suspicion and doubt," Hart wrote. "For most of these women the question is, 'what is he hiding, why is he not more forthcoming?"
Other responses: "I look at a president as a leader. This is not how I view a leader.' Others are unconcerned and say, "I don't care.' "
Hart's conclusion on the tax debate: "If voters knew or related to him, this might be less of an issue."
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