Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.
August 17th, 2012
07:46 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's campaign sought to turn up the pressure Friday on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns, offering to back off on their calls for the release of additional years of returns if he agrees to disclose five years of tax information.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina offered the deal in a letter sent to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. The Obama campaign posted the letter on its web site and emailed it to journalists.

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"If the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more–neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign," Messina wrote. His offer did not include a promise to avoid attacking Romney on the contents of any new returns, or make any commitments for independent third party groups.

A rejection of the Obama team's offer of a deal came from Rhoades came less than two hours later.

"Thanks for the note," Rhoades wrote. "It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters, like putting Americans back to work, fixing the economy and reining in spending."

Rhoades wrote that Messina and his campaign could continue talking about Romney's tax returns - but that his team would focus on the economy.

"If Governor Romney's tax returns are the core message of your campaign, there will be ample time for President Obama to discuss them over the next 81 days," Rhoades wrote. "In the meantime, Governor Romney will continue to lay out his plans for a stronger middle class, to save Medicare, to put work back into welfare, and help the 23 million Americans struggling to find work in the Obama economy."

The "offer" comes one day after Romney told reporters that he paid no less that 13% of his income in taxes for the past decade – a new revelation in a battle over the presumptive GOP nominee's personal tax information. Romney has released his return from 2010 and an estimate from 2011. He has pledged to release the full 2011 return once it's completed by his accountant. He filed for an extension on filing his 2011 return from the Internal Revenue Service in April.

Democrats have criticized Romney for not releasing more information about his taxes, arguing that voters are entitled to a greater amount of disclosure from candidates running for president. Some Republicans have also called on Romney to release more of his returns, saying the political headache could be easily ended by simply putting out additional information.

Romney and his campaign have consistently rebuffed those calls, however, saying the two years they've released go beyond the legal requirement, and offer voters a good perspective into the candidate's financial background.

In his letter Friday, Messina painted Romney's refusal to release more returns as stemming from political trepidation, which he said could be put to rest with his offer.

"This request for the release of five years, covering the complete returns for 2007-2012, is surely not unreasonable," Messina wrote, pointing out that Romney's father George, who ran for the GOP presidential nomination ahead of the 1968 election, released more than a decade's worth of returns.

"In the Governor's case, a five year release would appropriately span all the years that he has been a candidate for President," Messina wrote. "It would also help answer outstanding questions raised by the one return he has released to date, such as the range in the effective rates paid, the foreign accounts maintained, the foreign investments made, and the types of tax shelters used."

A CNN/ORC Poll taken August 7-8 showed 63% of voters thought Romney should release additional years of tax returns. Among independents, 67% said the Republican candidate should release more years of returns.

On Thursday, Romney dismissed the questions on his tax returns as a distraction from bigger issues, and reiterated his refusal to release any additional documents.

"Given the challenges that America faces – 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, 1 out of 6 Americans in poverty – the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face," Romney said in South Carolina.

In declaring he's paid more than 13% in taxes, Romney is describing his effective tax rate, the percentage of his actual income he gave to the federal government. Over the past two years, Romney's effective tax rate was 14.5%, based on the records he's revealed already.

Romney's financial disclosures suggest his net worth is as high as $264 million, making him one of the wealthiest candidates in history to seek the U.S. presidency.

CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Taxes
soundoff (1,465 Responses)
  1. Billy, NYC

    The biggest problem Romney has in his campaign is that he is running with a false character. He is not who he is in this campaign that why he flip flop everything he stood for including his MA Healthcare Plan. When someone has to constantly cover up the true self in the public, it shows dishonestly. How could the American people elect a President openly wearing a mask to lie all the time?

    August 17, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Q

    Romney would rather lose the ellection than embarass himself by releasing his secret tax records. Besides it may very well reveal crimes that could put him in jail. His tax records will NEVER see the light of day.......Party On

    August 17, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. Obummer

    Watch out, the caver-in-chief strikes again! While I do not see why Mitt would need to release tax returns, I'm concerned that the Obama organization cannot even hold their ground on such a simple request from their rival. How embarrassing and not really what I am looking for in a president.

    August 17, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Lisa M

    CARLOS....seriously, talk about distractions. What you birthers seem to not be able to wrap your mind around is that no matter what country President Obama was born in, his mother was American....making him American. There would be no reason for him to lie if he was born elsewhere. Facts are your biggest enemy sweetheart.

    August 17, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. rrd

    August 15 WASHINGTON (AP) - The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

    And all the Obama campaign is worried about is tax returns.

    August 17, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Sniffs S hits

    Desperate campaign from a desperate lying president. The campaign will stop talking about it but you'll just have your lapdog media and super pacs do it.

    August 17, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. American People

    I didn't need to file an extension on my taxes. I knew when they were due. I have nothing to hide. Mitt needs to file an extension because even this last year he has to find some magical accounting before he'll release his returns. Mitt is a liar, tax evader, and a criminal for not disclosing off-shore accounts.

    August 17, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. badmoonrising

    Romney should offer a new deal, Obama's college records for Romney's tax returns. Romney has been in the public eye for years as a governor and as a former presidential candidate. If there were really anything illegal about his taxes it most likely would have already been discovered. If you disagree with Romney's policies that's fine, but don't hate the guy just because he's rich and had to make tough choices about businesses that were already failing. Obama isn't hurting for money either.

    August 17, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Ram Riva

    Democrats....do not make a deal....stay in course.....that's why you lose so many followers.....you lack discipline.....

    August 17, 2012 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Dominicant Whale 4 Nobama

    Obama can try and sling all the mud at Romney, but nothing has stuck, just like during the primary. He's just afraid if people don't pay attention to the distractions, they might start looking at his failure of a presidency.

    August 17, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. ST

    Those who are asking for the President to release his school records is totally NONSENSE. Mr. Obama is already sworn in as President of The United States of America. What are you going to do with his records?? Will you offset that he hasn't been President for the past three years and half now???? Please give yourself a thought first before trying to ask for something which will not do neither yourself nor others any good.

    August 17, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. RealityBites

    Meanwhile.., out here in reality..

    366,000 Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits this week. Obama's 44th week in office.
    1,455,000 filing for the first time in the last four weeks
    Adding up to 17,460,000 Americans who filed in Obama's fourth year in office.

    Still wondering why Obama and his lamestream media want to talk about Romney's taxes??

    August 17, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens needs to explain how he managed to get over $100 million in his IRA. At $5000 a year, that woud take him 2000 years to do that. He is a tax cheat as well.

    August 17, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. W.G.

    Romney won´t go for the dal because he´s a tax cheat . Republicans are always talking about they are
    the right choice for America and they started 2 wars for greed and they protect the 1% and call the
    99% bums and lowlifes . I think the Republican party and their racist veiws and antquated policies
    have no place in a modern society .

    August 17, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Should we call him Spiro Romney?

    Curt

    Anybody wonder why a man who is insisting he is such a good businessman and how he is so organized needs an extension to file his income tax ? Its not like he didn't know when taxes were due. If he can't even file his taxes on time how does he expect he can run a country ?

    ***************************

    To be fair (cause I'n not a Romney fan) when you have a complicated return you are often dependent on getting information about your investments which are not always completed in time to file by April 15. That's one of the reasons that all you need to get an extension is to ask.

    August 17, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  16. Pete

    Republicans think by that the president only has his tax returns to focus on but they're wrong there are multitudes of info that can be used,Romneys past taxes,Medicare reform,SocialSecurity and its restructuring,Romney,AynRand surrogate Ryans tax reform,all these and more plus the inherient misquotes,gaffs and inuendoes that go along with it!!Wait till the debates,you hypocritical republicans think you dispise this team now ,wait till after they're over then you'll have something to really howl about.Romney,Ryan the wealthy elists are in a class that's historic with your republicans,all losers from Hoover to Bush 43 and ya can't deny it,have fun you picked em,you go down with them too like all the rest.We got our choice and we're happy with them,see ya after November!!!

    August 17, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  17. anoel2005

    I want to see Romney's tax returns in exchange for Obama's college papers........ Then "we the people" can decide.

    August 17, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  18. NO ROBME 2012!

    Who is Mitt Robmehood and what is he hiding?

    You would have to be a complete remedial demi-human to even consider voting for someone as dishonest as this empty suit.

    August 17, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. dodgedart66

    What kind of offer is that??? "Release 5 years and we won't ask for more. Not saying we won't make up lies about the content of those 5 years, but we won't ask for any more."
    The Pres. has spent over $4mill hiding his transcripts, how about showing them??

    August 17, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Candy Taylor

    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that there is something in those returns which will cost him the election. Show the returns!

    August 17, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. love344@tiscali.it

    be relentless Mr President... go after them like they go after you...

    the problem the GOP has is that more people are paying attention.... this is not the Ward Clever generation.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 17, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Bill

    Goes to the disclosure issue. Simply put, Romney can not be trusted or believed. And this clown wants to president? Not.

    August 17, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  23. Sanity

    Romney should agree if Obama releases the Fast and Furious documents he's hiding. Deal, Obama?

    August 17, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  24. Should we call him Spiro Romney?

    DJ

    The economy is so bad, people are still struggling to keep their homes and find work, and yet his opponents tax returns are more important?? Another distraction, this is going to far time to focus on the important issues!!!!

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Yes there are many important issues, and they ARE being addressed.

    However, the tax issue is one that would help define Romney's character, and character is an important issue.

    BTW, on the other important issues – why is MItt unwilling to give any specifics on what his plans are?

    August 17, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  25. CT voter

    I am a lifelong Republican. I'm a librarian; my husband is in sales. For the past decade, we have not paid less than 25% in taxes. I'm one of those 'small minded' people that want to see Romney's returns. Ann Romney is worried about the "ammunition" that is in the tax returns that could be used against the Romney campaign – does that make them a smoking gun? The longer they continue to refuse to prove their detractors wrong, the more it looks like they are trying to get away with something.

    Just release the taxes – the voters want them.

    August 17, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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