Campaign advisers Robert Gibbs, Dan Senor battle over Romney’s taxes

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Robert Gibbs, senior adviser to the Obama re-election campaign and his former White House press secretary, kept up the pressure on Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns during a feisty exchange on Morning Joe Monday.

“The next four years we’re going to have to undergo comprehensive tax reform. Is someone who has sheltered their income taxes in Switzerland, the Caymans, and Bermuda, really someone who’s going to get under the hood and get us to a place of tax fairness?” Gibbs said. “We need to know why he’s got that money there. The American people deserve to know if he’s sheltering this money somewhere, or quite frankly, if he’s not paying the taxes he owes and the only way to do that is to release more tax returns.”

Dan Senor, a senior adviser to the Romney presidential campaign who earlier on the show defended low tax rates for the wealthy based on their charitable giving, reiterated the Romney camp’s statement that this line of attack from the Obama campaign is nothing more than a “character assault.”

“There’s nothing secretive about these accounts,” Senor said. “Are you suggesting that Mitt Romney is guilty of some kind of felony here?”

“Dan, what I’m suggesting is that nobody has any idea because the only person with the tax returns are Mitt Romney,” Gibbs replied.

 

Senor countered that Romney had released some tax returns, which is from where much of the information on the candidate’s finances has derived. Recent reports from the AP and Vanity Fair resurfaced questions over how much is—and is not—revealed by those tax returns.

The exchange got more heated with Gibbs at one point taking a jab at the fact that the John McCain presidential campaign vetted Romney, alongside other candidates for his 2008 running mate, but ultimately chose Sarah Palin. Both advisers accused the other of stretching the facts.

“The notion that somehow Mitt Romney has somehow been transparent about the fact that he has off-shored money all over this world is patently ridiculous,” concluded Gibbs. “Release the tax forms—put all this to rest.”

Campaign advisers Robert Gibbs, Dan Senor battle over Romney's taxes

Updated