Does tax return issue still hurt Romney?
August 17th, 2012
05:33 PM ET
2 years ago

Does tax return issue still hurt Romney?

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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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. gosto

    Which is it?
    1. Mitt and Ann value their privacy more than they value the Presidency.
    2. Mitt's tax returns will cost him votes because:
    __a. Mitt's extraordinary and obsessive use of tax-avoidance practices only available to the rich will turn off voters.
    __b. Mitt's amending his tax returns to make him "retroactively eligible" to have run for Governor of Massachusetts will demonstrate his arrogance and sleaze, and indicts him as a possible felon.
    __c. Mitt's "never paid less than 13%" includes amended returns that were originally zero taxes or even refunds.
    __d. Mitt's returns did not stand up to IRS audits.
    __e. Mitt took advantage of an IRS amnesty program (another sleaze factor).
    3. All of the above

    August 17, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Namemonzell

    The box has nothing in it, its fool gold

    August 17, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Mark

    He needs to release them and take the hit.

    I don't think Mitt is a leader...at all. He is flip-flopped on too many issues to be a leader.

    I'm not sure if Obama is a leader on an idealist. They are two different things.

    What NEEDS to happen is Obama's tax plan and Ryan's medicare plan. But neither side will budge....so...let the mudslinging continue.

    August 17, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. desiderada

    Is it Mr. Romney's contention that dialogue is pointless? Not exactly a ringing endorsement of democracy for someone aspiring to be its leader.

    August 17, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain: Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    Mittens is running on his "record" as a "businessman" and says things like "I want everyone to be rich" (Sept. 22, 201; check it out on YouTube).

    So, release your tax records, so we can all benefit from your expertise on making money!

    Unless, of course, you have something to hide ....

    August 17, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. Namejkane fl SEND THE THREE TIME LOSER romney HOME AND MAKE IT FOUR.

    How can you vote for someone runing for president of the USA ,who won't even show you his tax returns ?????and anyway ,its not a request ,its a demand ,where's your tax returns romney the clowns and queen Ann?????????

    August 17, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. RocketV

    No one is "small minded" in seeking this information from someone who wants to run the most powerful country in the world. Romney says he is a job creator through his wealth and the tax system he wants to adopt. If he is sending his money to off shore accounts, then he needs to explain how that creates jobs in the U.S. because it does not. Why should anyone trust him since he has lied and lied about every single issue so far. And, for every comment made about him, he whines like a baby or more likely a privileged business executive who is not allowed to be criticized. We don't trust you and never will and the solution is simple – - release the information and either gain trust or be made out as the liar we think you are.

    August 17, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. PJ

    Romney does enough to hurt himself. The tax issue justs adds to his "penchant for secrecy" and that makes me
    nervous. Another "closed fund raiser" planned, more "we will look into that" and never does, "a budget policy
    will be revealed when there is a Romney administration". This looks like he doesn't know how to be a diplomat,
    a "decider", a leader, or anything that gives the voter confidence in his ability to lead. He hasn't shown it yet.
    As for those beating the 'Obama release your transcripts drums and saying they are "sealed", should know
    they are not sealed. That takes a Court Order and none has been issued. He just hasn't given permission,
    and guess what – neither did GW BUsh! Bush's grades were leaked............... moving on.

    August 17, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. John

    It would only interest you if you were interested in knowing all of the background details of the person running for the most powerful position on planet earth, and you were the one deciding on whether or not to hire him........Is there anyone out there that would not be interested if you were the only one making the decision (if it is a close race, you might be)

    August 17, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. desiderada

    It is not exactly a ringing endorsement of democracy by a man aspiring to be its leader for him to state that dialogue is pointless. With 90 days until the final ballot, whatever small percentage of us that exists who are still persuadable deserves all the information we can get to make an informed decision. In addition, those whose minds are seemingly made up deserve the opportunity to test their conviction against information that does not confirm their original thinking. Mr. Romney would know that if he had spent more time studying John Stuart Mill rather than the NYSE.

    August 17, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Reality Checker

    Show us the Birth Certificate... I mean TAX RETURNS!

    I can only gather that Romney is AFRAID to reveal his tax returns. WHY? If saying you paid a 13% tax rate is the good news from Romney, what is the bad.

    I think there is some information that would sink public opinion of him as a leader who has the best interest of the people in mind.
    I suspect it will reveal the extent that Romney has gone to avoid paying taxes, probably using some VERY questionable tactics.

    August 17, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. Jim Hahn

    This issue will dog him until December or longer. Unless he releases his tax returns and gets past whatever trouble is hiding in them (no doubt about that!) he will not win and the Republican party will be on his case way past November for betraying their trust. Mitt, you get to vet your Vice Presidential candidate while the American people get to vet you and you are flunking the test.

    August 17, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  13. Fuller Suppend

    I am much better than him!!! Huh!!! I pay tax, save money to survive, stretch the dollar so I will not go on begging for help, while here he is not paying tax? Huh, why should I vote for him, I am not crazy like hi supporters who do not think about him not paying tax. That is simple stupidity!!!

    August 17, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. The Middle Class American

    No, sorry. I do not and cannot trust Super Rich Mitt Romney. He does not represent me. He does not understand what the average American goes through and how we struggle.

    August 17, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  15. Tyrone

    So the guy got BUSTED cheating on where he lived & got away with a Crime & settled up The IRS & they accepted. He is a total Dirtbag & whats in his past 10 years of Tax evasion will come out somehow.

    August 17, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. drake mallard

    To romney You have refused to release your income tax forms even though others, including Governor William Weld, U.S. Senator John Kerry, and your opponent, Shannon O'Brien, released theirs. Do you have something to hide?

    Mitt Romney has been dancing around releasing his income taxes since that 1994 race.

    Democrats have hit Romney repeatedly on the tax issue, using it as an illustration for their argument that the Republican presidential candidate's tax policies would favor the wealthy, like himself, over the middle class. They have said he pays a lower effective tax rate than many middle-class families. And they've said his refusal to publicly release more than two years of records shows he has something to hide about his personal finances.

    romney could make this entire fiasco dissapear by simpley releasing his taxes. But he refuses to do so.

    Anyone in their right mind can't vote Romney.

    George Romney resisted releasing a single year of taxes, arguing that it wouldn't present an accurate picture...but then he made a surprising offer: He would release the past 12 years of tax returns...That way, it wouldn't look like a stunt

    August 17, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  17. Four and The Door

    So even though the IRS accepts Mitt Romney's tax returns ( ...and certainly you can imagine they are looked at closely ), people suspect he is doing something wrong. This man had led an exemplary life of values, accomplishment and public service. But look at the accusers. Harry Reid was dead wrong with what he said on the Senate Floor. They are desperate. They are about to be shellacked and they know it. Consider the source.

    August 17, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  18. Taxpayer

    Of course... it does, big time.

    August 17, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. 1twinswin

    Sure, McCain only released two years for his run in 08. But he'd been releasing them for years while in the Senate. Therea Heinz Kerry didn't release her returns, either. But she wasn't running for the presidency.

    August 17, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Tree

    Yea, he needs to put out his FED Tax returns. People he is running for the higest office in the land. What makes him think that he is better than the others. That is one of the reason why I don't like him, he thinks that he is better than most. Romney and his wife can not see beyond their nose. If my friends think that Romney and Ryan is for the middle class, or the people think again my friend . He is not fit to run the country, he is acting like a CEO not a President. Wake Up my friends he is a business thug. People think that he is smart, yea he is to take jobs away from people and line his pockets how smart is that ?. I just can't connect with the cat. Something is wrong and more will be reveal.

    August 17, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    It simply doesn't hurt Romney. Most of us know that it is just a distraction to the actual issues.

    August 17, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. kenneypco

    For me the issue of Romney not relasing his tax record is not as big of an issue as that the tax system we all live under has allowed someone who makes 20 million dollars to pay as little as 14% in taxes while a middle class family making 45k – 60k pays between 20 to 25% in taxes. Romney trying to claim that when he adds the 'charity' donations he contributes he is somehow paying over 20% in taxes is outrages. Donations are NOT taxes and does nothing to bring down the federal debt nor pay for the federal services that ALL American citizens benifit from.

    How can Romney justifiy him making 20 million and ONLY paying 14% in taxes while the average middle class family pay a WHOLE BUNCH more in taxes, besides what they contibute to charities? Why do wealthy people need to continue to get a tax break if they are paying so little in federal taxes? Why aren't the middle class getting a larger tax break at a time when they need it and wouldn't giving the middle class a larger tax break lift the faulting economy more than giving it to wealthy people who apparently don't really need it?

    August 17, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  23. RSK KAS

    If Mitt with his wealth worth $234 millions is paying 13% and middle class worh is put at less than one million is paying 5% of hisnet profit where will this country be. Will i she be great as it is. Mr. Romney you are wrong you lose my vote.

    August 17, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  24. America1st

    Well, a quarter billionaire pays a lower tax rate than me under the Bush Tax code. And why? Because he has a special sweetheart tax rate for corporate hedge fund raiding. Crazy. Lest we forget, this guy paid ZERO social security taxes, ZERO state income taxes, and that rate doesn't include his kickbacks and rebates. Most americans, counting all taxes, pay a higher rate than a guy who hid money in the Cayman Islands, and Swiss bank accounts. And lest we forget, that 13% doesn't include thos overseas income. The rate is much closer to 5%>

    August 17, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  25. America1st

    He is doing something wrong. When you close your Swiss account during an amnesty program, the returns locked and sealed by confessing yuor sins, you did something wrong. If that were a middle class person, their would be NO amnesty, only JAIL.

    August 17, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
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