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. CAPUSA

    This is sick with Obama Kool Aid drinkesr suggetsing Romney release more taxes in lets make deal. Well comrade Obaam, release those socilaist ideas sealed records and produce which Africa country you were born. WAKE UP AMERICA, before we all have Cuban flags outside our homes.

    August 17, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  2. dd

    why don't the dems ask for everyone in congress on both sides show their taxes for the last 10 years?....hmmmmm

    August 17, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  3. CAPUSA

    No recors to run on so now Comrade Obaam wants to play let's make a deal, We are DOOMED if Obama Jim Jones wins!

    August 17, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. America

    Obamas college transcripts for Romneys tax records seems like a fair trade off.

    August 17, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. hotairwarrior

    If this election is about the economy. Mr Romney should release at least 10 years of his tax returns like his father did. The American people deserve to see how he handles his own personal economics .

    August 17, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. BHPT

    This is GREAT. His VP pick has now released more tax returns than Romney! Too funny!

    August 17, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. GuyinVA

    "Thanks for the tax returns Governor Romney. Now, let's spend the next 2 months talking about the gay guy whose hair you cut, and the woman you murdered by giving her cancer."

    August 17, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. adrifter

    I oriiginally thought Romney's tax returns issue was not really that big of a deal. However, the more he refuses to release more than two years of tax returns, the more I think he is hiding something really bad. Romney must have made the calculation that the harm from his tax returns would be worse that the political harm from not releasing than. Logically, that means there is something bad in the returns. So he is now leaving it to the imagination of voters to try to guess what that can be.

    August 17, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. normajean @ verizon ,com

    Anyone who has raised children can spot something that is being hidden. In as much as it has been standard procedure for tax returns to be commonly part of the paper work in running for office.....the fact that Romney is making his own life more difficult by refusing to comply....does make one wonder what he is hiding.! "'BIG BIRD.......May I just say that no president has been required to show his academic A's and B"s. Do you want to start a whole new "drag" in the political scene???? Give us a break,,,...There's quite a difference between hiding financial records and whether a candidate got a D in English!!!!

    August 17, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  10. American666

    The Republicans view a tax cheat and a draft dogers as another normal American; but, they are very wrong. One day American citizenship will be earned and not just given away. The immigrants do more for America than Republicans do every day by sacrificing their hard work and sweat.

    August 17, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. john

    Why is everyone so concerned about Romney tax returns? Now I know I'm going to get a bunch of raves, but say things you can't prove. Don't you think, obviously some of you don't, the IRS is capable of checking Romney's returns. Personally what Romney does with his money is not as important to me as the overspending in the government. I am sick of the media being so one sided in politics. Just report the news and let the people sort it out. Lets talk about the economy, the budget, obamacare, medicare, social security and foreign affairs. Are we paying the present to be a travel agent for his wife and children and friends. The best thing he could do is get back to the countries business. He spends to much time campaigning. He only has one speech basically, and it's just telling what Romney's going to do. I want to know what he's going to do. It's going on 4 years, and basically one idea, that didn't work. Mr. President prove your worth. CNN you have ask thousands of times what is Romney hiding in his taxes. How many times have you ask for Obama's birth certificate, his grades, have you ever visited with anyone who ran around with him when he was a child? Who is this Mr Obama? We basically know nothing about his past. Have you found out why his aunt and Uncle are illegal aliens? Why does he care about illegal aliens so much? If they are here illegally, are they breaking a law? What's at stake here? Could it be votes?

    August 17, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. myintx

    The Tax Record garbage started because of a Rumor started by Harry Reid. Since the media is talking about asking for paperwork based on Rumors, then play fair and ask for Obama's college transcripts because there are Rumors that he attended college as an illegal alien and wrote an anti-American thesis... Or, better yet, stick to the issues.. Like how Obama promised not to raise taxes on the middle class but did (via approx 20 taxes in Obamacare).

    August 17, 2012 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  13. John P. Tarver

    Why should Romney make a deal with these fools?

    August 17, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  14. CBR

    Academic political papers do not equate with tax returns. Which candidates have done that. What someone doe3s during their college years does not necessarily translate any usable information. Do these people want to make sure that Mr. Obama really did go to college and to Harvard Law School? Mr. Romney has overseas investments and he has off-shore accounts. He does not want the American people to see that he has put money in Swiss banks. He will have a hard time explaining why he has these accounts and investments while complaining about the number of jobs created or the national debt.

    The best way to hand any unpleasant information is to put it out there and explain your position. It is becoming clear that Mr. Romney does not want to do this.

    August 17, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. BHPT

    Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.
    Isn't this the story of Obama trying to deal with Republicans?

    August 17, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. NoMoBama

    The liberals have ZERO record to run on so they need a distraction. They want to divert attention away from the failed president and Romney isn't going to give them the ammunition they so desperately want. They would keep blabbing as loud as they could that he took advantage of loopholes and shelters. Well, so would anyone else that wanted to keep as much of their earned income as they could. If Romoney did anything illegal the IRS would be screaming LOUD...and they're not LOL Mitt is to smart for this baloney.

    August 17, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. NoMoBama

    The liberals have ZERO record to run on so they need a distraction. They want to divert attention away from the failed president and Romney isn't going to give them the ammunition they so desperately want. They would keep blabbing as loud as they could that he took advantage of loopholes and shelters. Well, so would anyone else that wanted to keep as much of their earned income as they could. If Romney did anything illegal the IRS would be screaming LOUD...and they're not LOL Mitt is to smart for this.

    August 17, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. PaulC

    If his tax returns were favorable he would not hesitate to release them so until then it certainly appears he has something to hide.
    Now, repugs. are demanding Pres. Obama's academic political papers. Why they want to see them only the voices know.

    August 17, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  19. Squigman

    Have half a wit? Vote for Mitt.

    August 17, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. hooligan

    I think a better trade would be Obama's college records for 5 years of Romney's tax returns. The most transparent administration of all time has been pretty shady when it comes to issues relating to the history of the current potus.

    August 17, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  21. jky54

    I am not interested in college records, tax records, status, color or religion. I am interested how much of my money goes into the government coffers, how our government spends my money, the fact that over 40% is taking some kind of government help (that is unsustainable), the fact that the answer from Washington for every ill is spend more money. I dont want to bail out banks, wall street or the auto industry. It angers me that very few are really for the middle class ( including those that say they built the middle class)....bottom line it's the "economy stupid" and President Obama has just made things worste, of course he has had the help Pelosi and Reed it is time for them to go! Any body will be better.

    August 17, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. bm

    Mittens is hiding something.

    August 17, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. glorydays

    Yeah Bigbird, like there's any comparison between grades and taxes...what a buffoon...

    August 17, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Smokey

    How can any American trust this man, who is so plainly and brazenly schooled in the arts of deceit? I understand that Republican voters will vote for the Republican candidate out of loyalty and habit, and those who are dissatisfied with Obama's term will vote for whoever opposes him. But I can't imagine anyone voting for the Republican ticket because they like or trust Mitt Romney. I have to think that the vast majority of GOP voters will be holding their noses while casting their ballots this fall (I'm sure a lot of Democrats will be, too). This Presidential race is not what America needs. Neither candidate has what it takes to solve the problems afflicting your country.

    August 17, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. Leftcoastrocky

    There must be something really terrible in your tax returns, Mitt; otherwise, you would have disclosed them months ago. What other conclusion can we draw?

    And when your wife said that disclosing them would just supply more "ammunition" I think she meant "smoking guns."

    August 17, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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