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

    Seth Sharon

    What a sad sad day for liberals.

    Liberals didn't put Mitt Romney on the ticket, Republicans did.

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

    The wife has spoken. No returns. We know who wears the magic Mormon underpants in the family.

    August 17, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. acky55

    Republican party is a party of liars thieves rapists. If thus is so why are bothering ourselves about Mitt. He is a liar, a tax dodge. He will lose the election come November Americans don't want somebody like him in whitevhiuse.

    August 17, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain: Under the Ryan Plan, Romney Pays 0.87% in taxes

    A Repub saying "No" ... knock me over with a feather ...

    August 17, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. Jim Hahn

    It all comes down to trustworthiness. If there is nothing to hide in the tax returns, release them, take the heat and move on, otherwise, this repeated refusal of his to release his returns makes him an untrustworthy candidate for the highest office in the land and therefore he will not be elected no matter what he has to say. If you are willing to run on your record of success, then your success will come under scrutiny. Not willing to submit, then go find another job. That's what any employer would say and that's that the American people should say to Mitt Romney.

    August 17, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Who cares

    @Ken Margo, I forget did Obama show anything prior to being elected? Pretty sure that came out around June of 2008. So as long as Mitt provides his taxes by June of 2013 all is good right?

    August 17, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. 2020

    Berry Dingle – GET OVER IT? you are either have a pea brain or no brain period.

    A crook is a crook. 13% tax paid for a presidential candidate? the rest of the country paying minimum 30%.

    How nonsense can this be.

    Tell Romney to find another job somewhere no one question about his tax

    August 17, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. GMoney

    Why has the debt climbed? Why is the discussion on the economy being diverted? I want a successful businessman in the oval office who can make tough calls and solid decisions to get this country on track......collective goods is not working–just ask Germany about bailing Greece, France (and most likely Spain) out of debt.
    Romney/Ryan all the way in 12!

    August 17, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. mimia

    Romney is a LIAR!

    August 17, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. sunny5280

    Maybe I'm missing something but I see no deal here. What is Obama giving in return? To stop hounding him about releasing his tax returns if he releases his tax returns? Isn't that what he would do anyway? I see no deal here.

    August 17, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. Independent Voter

    He is going to definitely lose if he doesn't submit at least 5 years worth, which appears he does not want to do so we are left to wonder what he is hiding. He surely is a "core less" candidate.

    August 17, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. Who cares


    Reid says Romney is telling a bit fat lie about his taxes, and Romney says he's paid some. Why won't Romney release the taxes and destroy Reid in the process? Simple, it's because Romney is hiding something from the American people. Reid is either right, or Romney has something very anti-American in his taxes that he doesn't want any of us to see. Either way, it's a valid demand – Romney, release your taxes. Be the man your father was and honor his legacy. Otherwise, you have no honor.


    Because Romney isn't running for President against Paul Reid. Sure he can make Reid look like a tool, but then what? You don't think there isn't anything in there that the Obama camp couldn't spin to their favor? Romney could have paid 13% and if that's true then great, but what if he paid 13% on One Million instead of 10? Personally I don't care because his 13% on one million would be like my 13% for 10 years. So he's already contributing more than I am.

    August 17, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. Dave

    The only deal Mitt should make with Barack is the terms of Barack's resignation from the WH. That's it.

    August 17, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  14. smithdp

    I don't really care about Romneys taxes. I'm more worried about his policies taking us back to the 750,000 jobs a month we were losing when Bush left office. I can't tell any difference between Romneys policies and Bush's.

    August 17, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  15. Beverly - NYC

    There must be something worth hiding in thiose returns for Mitt and company to continue this charade. He knows it because he keeps repeating the mantra that it would give the other side ammunition. Why would he continue the pain otherwise. Release the returns, take your lumps, and have the issue disappear. It seems like he's hanging on until the Convention, the Republicans may be in for an October surprise.

    August 17, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. BigBird Johnson

    That was no deal. Why doesn't Obama offer to release his academic political papers in exchange for more of Romney's tax records?

    August 17, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. NameKC

    Yes it matters! Romney is distorting the truth. He said " he's paid 13% in the last 10 years". That means he paid approximately 1.3% each year for 10 years or maybe "0" (zero) just like Harry Reid said. Depending on the percentages each year it totals 13%. He can not be trusted!!!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  18. Ken Margo

    @ancient texan. I'm assuming you're from Texas. The same people who voted for Rick "OOOPS" Perry. That says it all about the people from Texas.

    August 17, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  19. Omaroak

    Have any of you applied for a Mortgage lately? If you have, surely you know that to get a standard mortgage most banks require you to disclose 3 years of completed, filed Tax Returns. Romney has provided one. Shouldn't a President at least meet the standards of disclosure ordinary Americans need to to get a Mortgae?

    August 17, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  20. Bev Varnado

    If I was Romney, the only way I would make a deal with Obama is if he (Obama) disclosed his college entrance papers. I don't care about his grades although it would be good to see some papers he wrote in college. I do care about what he put as his citizenship and who paid for his college expenses. I would also like to see his visa records from 1981. I would like for him to explain why his publicist wrote in Obama's bio that he was born in Kenya. Why the Harvard Law Review wrote that he was born in Kenya. Why the newspapers and t.v. in Chicago always reported that Obama was born in Kenya. Do you think all those people just made that fact up? Or do you think, could it be, that Obama TOLD them that? True or not.

    August 17, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. Katy

    Why make a deal? Let's see 10 years like every other presidential candidate since Mitten's dad ran.
    whatever.... Mitt is a twit.

    August 17, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Woman In California

    Obviously, the taxes ARE an important issue as this is the top Ticker with over 1,000 responses. Also, notice how upset and nervous both Willard and Ann become when they are asked about them. Ann went so far as to point her finger at the reporter when she was confronted. The Romney's should just fade away and take their tax secrets with them.

    August 17, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  23. Norfolk, VA

    All you tax nuts out there don't know what you are saying. At least Romney paid 13+% whereas 50+% of the population didn't pay anything. Look at Obama's friend the CEO of GE. He is sending jobs overseas and GE didn't
    pay any taxes last year.

    August 17, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Ken Margo

    For the bigots who think Obama didn't go to school. Don't you think Harvard would have put something out by now?

    August 17, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Lamar

    I think if Mr. Romney will relese his income tax returns, that will the end of his candidacy and I would like to see Mr. Santorum to take over.

    August 17, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
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