Does tax return issue still hurt Romney?
August 17th, 2012
05:33 PM ET
6 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. DW

    Until he releases them, I don't give a crap what he says. His own father set the precedent. If Mitt does not show them, what is he hiding?

    August 17, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. America1st

    Show them Mitt. No one believes a guy who hides money in Swiss Bank Accounts, and notorious tax cheat playgrounds for the filthy rich in the Cayman Islands. No offense, but I believe you are a liar.

    August 17, 2012 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. America1st

    How does this guy get away with writing off that Olumpic prancing, dancing dressage horse as a medical healthcare expense for his wife? HOW!!!

    August 17, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. Bill

    @Four and the Door

    It is called disclosure. People need to provide multiple years of returns to buy a house. This goof wants to be president. He could have saved all of this by simply releasing them. Not to be trusted. Period.

    August 17, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. Bootstomper

    Romney should release his taxes and then come out of the closet.

    August 17, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  6. rs

    I think it does, and for a couple of reasons.

    First, Mr. Romney has not been either forthcoming or truthful whether it be about his role in the Olympics, as Governor of Massa chussetts, or while at his company, Bain Capital. Some of these "errors" of fact are minor, others quite significant- He has proven himself to be, quite simply, untrustworthy. Does anyone really belive him (or have reason to) when he says "trust me".
    2. The very question about how much Mr. Romney pays. Yes, 13% is pathetic compared to the rest of us (it is almost a third of my rate), and sure, yes, it is investment as oppossed to real income and taxed at a lower rate, but against $20 mil. a year, it is just gross to think he gets away so light as oppossed to middle income earners. Never mind his $70k deduction for their "hobby horse".
    3. Mr. Romney has used his political opponent's tax returns in election. When those are unrevealing, he has gone after spouses. This brings up both a trust and a sleaze factor.
    Finally- It is rare when polling reveals numbers like those who want to see Mr. Romney's taxes revealed- 67%. He could theoretically stand to lose that many voters by failing to do what his father did. If he is so willing to throw away votes, he must not be serious about being President. If THAT really is the case what is he doing?

    August 17, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Mitt Romneys Father must think his son is a wimp.

    August 17, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. Sanchez NM

    Romney...Release your tax returns! What are you hiding? You are running for the highest office in the country and the American people deserve to know the kind of person we are being asked to vote for. If you are a tax evader, then we need to know about it.

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. n

    I am always amazed at people mind set and how we all are apart of the same land scape but see our situation in it as different as night and day. Where one care for his fellow man and should, the other could care less and is detached from the mantra, united we stand, divided we fall, thus causing a ripple of chaotic chain of events, an abyss of the division of the damed. Bringing a rainfall of repercussion that will effect a whole nation for generations to come. This president Barack Obama, is needed for these times. The world has changed and our place in it, as well. We are still leading the way, thanks to our president. We are stronger and smarter . The weak and frightened are the ones who reject change and cling to insanity, they keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. That's who the Republican party has become, the personification of Crazy.

    August 17, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  10. Mark

    Four and The Door...what is wrong with you?

    He has already been caught LYING about his taxes regarding his state of residence.

    And as far as we know, he could have taken AMNESTY in 2009...but he won't release the returns.

    August 17, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  11. CanadaONE


    Canada has universal health Care – Romney doesn't like it !

    Canada has more bank regulations – Romney doesn't like it !

    Canada taxes the rich at a higher rate – Romney doesn't like it !

    Canada prefers Obama – Romney doesn't like it !

    Canada thinks Ryan is an idiot – Romney doesn't like it !


    August 17, 2012 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    ""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."

    Know how you know this is another lie? Because repeating lies ad nauseum is part of the Mittens campaign's deepest strategies. You see, it is entirely disingenuous for him to claim that "this is not new information" as if that means "everybody knows this now, so you can stop saying it." People spend all kinds fo time and energy trying to get the truth out and yet we have prime examples of how little that works coming here day in and day out to post debunked myths and conspiracy theory nonsense like they just heard it or have been living in an underground bunker for the past 6 months missing out on all the debunking. Mittens' campaign KNOWS that the American public is VASTLY UNDERINFORMED and tries to take advantage of that on a daily basis by trying to further disinform them. They need to be told things constinuously, constantly...a barrage of redundant corrective information that even then they sometimes won't assimilate because it just doesn't jibe with what they would rather be the truth. So no....don't come to us telling us that "this is old news" as if there's nobody left to convince. There's plenty. Just look at how many jackhholes pop up on this site to claim that they still need to see Obama's birth certificate or that he's a muslim etc. Perhaps some will never be convinced, but there's always some who are blamelessly ingorant as opposed to doing it on purpose.

    August 17, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. PJ

    "Consider the source".................
    The "source" is Romney, and no I won't take his word for anything. Not one person on Earth would be able to get
    a job with this guy by saying "that's all your gettting" of my tax returns. Certainly not one who wants to be his
    VP running mate. We have a President that has led an exemplary life of values, accomplishment and public service,
    so what's your point?

    August 17, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. rs

    Four and The Door-
    This isn't about Reid- he has his own issues though- this IS about Mr. Romney's trustworthiness. He has altered his returns in the past, and has used other candidates' returns as camapign issues. He is not an honest player on this point by any means. His time as Governor has proven to be less than the glossy memory he portrys; his time at Bain while legal is at best ugly. As to him "saving" the Olympics- He didn't "build that". The American tax payer came to the rescue of the most corrupt sprting event of recent time. Even if Mr. Romney was spotless, the GOP (his own party) has let loose the whole birther idiocy (along with a wide array of base-less, fact-less conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama). Mr. Romney HAS to expect the same level of scrutiny.
    Fair is fair, as they say.

    August 17, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. rrd

    You do realize this is based on a conversation with 12 people.

    John Kerry doesn't have the money, his wife does. Did she release 10 years of her tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain: Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    @Four: "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."

    No one is saying what Mittens did was illegal; we're saying that his returns show just how skewed in favor of the rich our tax code has come – and that the LAST thing Mittens and his class need are further tax cuts. How will they justify not investing in OUR country when the whole world sees they have more than enough to do so now?

    August 17, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. beau

    The Ryan choice is EXCELLENT
    Ryan has the courage to challenge Big socialist government programs like Social Security and Medicare.
    Politicians have been deathly afraid to challenge senior citizens on Social Security and Medicare because they are such a powerful voting block
    But Senior Citizens have been feeding at the government trough for too long.
    It's time Seniors learned that nothing is "Free" and that WELFARE FOR THE ELDERLY is no different from welfare for the poor.
    American seniors are just going to have to learn to save their money and rely on themselves in their old age.
    It's time to end the two biggest socialist programs in the federal government....MEDICARE and SOCIAL SECURITY.
    And the Romney/Ryan team is the ones to do it.
    You are going to pay your way now old people, no more free lunch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

    August 17, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Milton K. Wiah

    This man has the audacity to vet the vice president with multiple tax returns but would not like the American
    people to vet him. Let the journalists ask him this; will he appoint a person to a cabinet position who refuses
    to release his tax returns?
    I know from reading every posts from American public, there are many stupid Americans. How did even
    Mitt get the nomination? This kind of man is not even fit to be city major in the Netherlands with such
    tax fraud records.

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

    I used to be a repub till congress was taken over by the tea party and Romney as our candidate.I cannot support a man who is a draft dodger and a tax evader.The repub congress has done nothing for vets,nothing for the middleclass.All of the good repubs have gone or have been forced out by the extremists that care nothing for the average joe or veterans like myself.Until we get real candidates that care for the middleclass and vets I will not vote for the repubs.Honor and respect,and caring for this nation is what the repubs used to stand for ,now we have wackjobs from the tea party holding america hostage and thats as un patriotic as it gets,it is hurting many americans,our economy and soldiers who are looking for work. Romney is not the answer he is the problem with America with his lies and phony religion...Sorry this voter will stay an ex repub till the party becomes honerable again.

    August 17, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. ind2012

    I find it interesting hearing Mr. Romney tout his charitable contributions. Given his out of touch, privileged persona, it seems releasing multiple year taxes would make clear his grand generosity. Would it not further endear him to the American people?: Well a "Trust Me" stance from a secretive politician is good enough for me.

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

    Mr. Romney, where is your 20ll return? I accept your application for an extension on April 15. But, that expired on July 15. Your wife says, "No more tax returns will be given". I take it you are welching on your promise-again.

    August 17, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Manny

    Only deranged Doomocrats care.

    August 17, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. Keeping It Real

    Romney probably should have released the returns, although not required to do so. It has had an effect though on Democrats who have fixated themselves on the returns. Most of the people I know really don't care, as long as he submitted what was required. The whole issue makes Democrats look even worse and completely hypocritical, considering how several Democrats were found to not have paid their taxes. It's obvious that they don't care if democrats pay taxes, and they want to make an issue on Romney, without any proof? It's extremely pathetic.

    August 17, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  24. Justice for America

    For a sensible voter, it should not be an issue, considering the person asking and demanding for the Tax Return. When he himself has not released any of his since he has been in politics. He had his records and credentials sealed. Who is hiding something? Why seal your records, if you have nothing to hide!

    Romney does not owe us an explanation of what he does with his money because he works hard for his money, Obama on the other hand does. Because he made his money for politics and tax payers. He owes it to tell us, give us an explanation, he should show us and let us know, if he has been paying his taxes like all of us. He should and must release his own Tax Return from the time he has been in politics as a Chicago congressman.

    August 17, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. josephine

    Would you apply for a job and tell the interviewer that you don't want to show him your resume? Just trust me and hire me. And one thing too, this may not be that important. Actually , its kinda funny. It's the way this guy Romney walks. Watch and observe. It's kinda weird.

    August 17, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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