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. Fair is Fair

    Hehehehehehehe... the Obama campaign – "All Romney's Taxes, All The Time". What a pathetic strategy.

    August 17, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. Disgusted with the Rhetoric

    SO the reason I am out of work is because Romney has not released his tax returns? Whew, I thought it had something to do with the current sad state of our economy under the current administration.

    Interesting correlation, Romney made his fortune by working hard before his candidacy and Obama has made his fortune since being President, hmmm.... How about Obama's transcripts from Columbia and Harvard – oh, that is different. The left believe in free speech as long as it is their speech that you are agreeing with.

    August 17, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  3. linda

    If he has paid 13% and is so sure that he paid at least 13% then SHOW THEM....what is he afraid of....Republicans are the party of NO....just as all the GOP in Washington for the last 4 years have been......NO to anything and everything to help get this country back on it's feet and Americans back to work......we all have paid the price without getting a job because the republicans refuse to do anything bipartican to work with the other side.....all because they don't want Obama to have another 4 years.....what makes you think they are going to work for you if they win the White House.

    August 17, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. SPower


    Where are those O'bama transcripts?

    August 17, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Top_News

    Wow. Obama offering another promise? If you believe that then I've got some ocean front property in Nebraska I'd like to sell ya. LOL

    August 17, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. TC

    I I would rather have a successful businessman run this country, than a Foreigner who has lied about where he is from, how he got into and paid for college ( that could have been your kids college tuition) and has proven that in 4 years he does not know how to run a country except how to run it further into the ground. So even though both candidates have secrets, lets face it; Barack Obama is incapable of running a country; let along running a PENNY CANDY ice cream store.

    MITT 2012

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. degazmatic

    we was the PRESIDENT of the HARVARD LAW REVIEW....

    how many here have gone to HARVARD? let alone any COLLEGE? do you know the REQUIREMENTS to become a MEMBER of the HARVARD LAW REVIEW? let alone PRESIDENT? hahahaha... stupid

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. Emmanuel

    The Obama campaign strategy need to be more direct to the points like how Romney as a bad manager is not fit to be next US president.Mr Romney who ran so many companies to bankruptcy with thousands of Jobs lost with proceeds stashed in Taxe havens across the globe dodging to pay his due Tax that is supposed to help boost the US Economy messed up by Republicans headed by Mr Bush. If Romney was a good manager those companies could have been saved including the jobs.So If he was unable at that time to manage a small firm under his control how can he manage the affairs of Ameican people as commander in chief which we know he is not capable of doing based on his blind policies just like Mr Bush that got America in Economic trouble.

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. Lionel

    It is all about integrity and honesty and right now Romney wants us to believe that he paid a tax rate of 13%.
    Raegan said "trust but verify".

    Well just end the debate and release the returns. What is he hiding? He is a liar and he knows it.

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. Sid

    Is this the best Obama has ??? President Transperancy should move past the tax returns and move on to the important issues like jobs, and the economy !!! Barry Sotoro has spent millions of dollars protecting the documents who expose who he truely is, release your college transcripts Barry !!!! Since you can't run on your record, move on to your next smear campaign. What's next ? When are they going to start calling Romey a racist ? Oh, look Toure on MSNBC is doing that !!!

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  11. BLKMANinAmerica

    Well Romney is a white man so def he will do release his taxies (that not news), why the media in America is not pushing this issue should be news. Romney clearly hasn't paid any tax for 10 years, just like Reid stated, but he a white booie so the media isn't going to press the issue. America's double standard at work again.

    August 17, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. ChuckB

    Obama's team know something that ain't good for Romney.

    August 17, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. Don

    Romney paid more in taxes in one year than most of you free loaders paid in your whole life!

    Yes, he made a lot of money, what's your excuse? It seems the people who doesn't apply themselfs want those who do make up the slack. Socialism at it's finest, but we can expect these type of things from people who read this crap from a source like CNN

    August 17, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. SwissMitt

    Romney is as spineless as a worm with twice the wiggle

    August 17, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Obama has released his income tax records, burth certificate-demanded of no other politician-long and short form and now you want to see his school transcripts-BUT you want to elect a Republican without demanding to see his taxes, birth certificate, or school transcripts and especially one who is a PROVEN llar-YOUR prejudice and ignorance are showing

    August 17, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Hey Mr. 47th in job creation, if you were smart, you'd tell the Democrats you create 47 million jobs oveseas that resulted in lucrative profits in your pocket, oops in the American economy. So how's your running mate Ryan doing nowadays? I heard he's a fiscal hawk with a savy nack for reigning in spending and balancing the budget. However, what I don't understand is why when Mr. Ryan's budgets were put into play during the previous administration in which the GOP controlled both the House and Senate and the Executive branch, they squandered a surplus and we ended up with recod unemployment, a housing crisis, high inflation and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Where did Paul Ryan go wrong?

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. rrd

    8/15 (AP) - The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

    And we are worried about tax returns..

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. UDidntBuildThat

    1) Do u think that Mitt Romney would get away of not paying taxes owned with this Obama IRS?
    1) So we are back to the distraction taxes now. I guess they r really in panic mode now.

    The deal s/b Obama u invoked Executive privileges to prevent the elease the Fast & Furious records fr the Department of Justice. Release all those records, along with your college transcript, college application, college grades and college thesis as have all other Presdients and we have deal.

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. Lizzie

    The Right Left, you can't even ask a applicant how old he is or what his marital status is, or if it is a female if she plans to have kids, and you DARE to ask for taxreturns, you can ask however about his schooling or his former employment.

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  20. fred37ify

    The deal Should be Tax Returns for Barracks school records !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111 Whats Barrack hiding ???

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  21. Walter

    How about this deal. Obama changes his mind on waving his wand and making millions of people in this country illegally legal, and Romney then turns over tax returns for 10 years.

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  22. Graham man

    First of all, it's NOT required that a candidate release his tax returns. Second, if he had paid no taxes, don't you think the IRS would be up his butt already? Third, you people asking for Romneys taxes are just being nosey for his PERSONAL information and are probably the same type of people that follow the kardashians, lohans, and Hilton's. Forth, so he paid thirteen percent, so what? He made 20 million bucks last year, that comes to 2.6 million he paid in taxes. How many of you can sit there and say he didn't pay his fair share? How many of you paid that much last year for the EXACT same goods and services?

    August 17, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. nb123

    Lets make a deal on college transcripts instead... How about that Mr. President ?

    August 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  24. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    I want to see the college transcripts of obama and I want to see his passport!

    August 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  25. Romney walks and talks like a sissy

    If Romney doesn't trust the people to examine his taxes – how are we supposed to trust him to run the free world???

    The man lies and changes his stance more than I change my underwear. Doesn't have a sincere bone in his body. Amazing how he can still manage to get more than 40% support from Americans!!!

    August 17, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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