Romney camp rejects Obama campaign’s bargaining chip on taxes

Updated
 

In rapid succession the presidential campaign managers exchanged notes Friday morning over Mitt Romney’s tax returns. 

President Obama’s campaign manager offered to scale back the campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s taxes if he would agree to release at least five years of returns. The Romney campaign didn’t take the bait.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina promised 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,” if the businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts would release the complete returns for 2007-2012.

Earlier this week, Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican candidate, echoed her husband’s defense in saying that they would not release any more tax returns for fear of it being used as ammunition by the opposition. The campaign has released one full year of tax returns and one estimate. 

Notice he doesn’t promise to avoid criticism of what is found in those returns.

The Romney campaign’s Matt Rhoades did not respond with an outright “No,” but made it clear it was uninterested in the negotiation tactic. 

“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.

Read each campaign manager’s letter after the jump.

 

Jim Messina’s initial message:

August 17, 2012

Matt Rhoades 
585 Commercial Street 
Boston, Massachusetts  02109

Dear Matt:

I am writing to ask again that the Governor release multiple years of tax returns, but also to make an offer that should address his concerns about the additional disclosures. Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide. So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: 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.

This request for the release of five years, covering the complete returns for 2007-2012, is surely not unreasonable. Other Presidential candidates have released more, including the Governor’s father who provided 12 years 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.  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.

To provide these five years, the Governor would have to release only three more sets of returns in addition to the 2010 return he has released and the 2011 return he has pledged to provide.  And, I repeat, the Governor and his campaign can expect in return that we will refrain from questioning whether he has released enough or pressing for more.

I look forward to your reply.

Jim Messina
Obama for America
Campaign Manager 

Matt Rhoades’ response:

Hey Jim,

Thanks for the note. 

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.

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.

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.

See you in Denver.

Thanks,

Matt Rhoades
Romney for President
Campaign Manager

 

Romney camp rejects Obama campaign's bargaining chip on taxes

Updated