The hits keep coming: Romney demanded Kennedy release tax returns, then backpedaled eight years later


Over the past few months we’ve seen Romney slam Obamacare after promoting an individual mandate as governor of Massachusetts, claim to be a job creator even as reports revealed Bain Capital invested in companies sending jobs overseas, and criticize Obama for supposedly raising taxes even though his own tax plan would do so for 95 percent of Americans, a recent study found.

Now, Rachel Maddow is digging into his latest self-contradiction. On Friday’s TRMS, she recalled Romney’s 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy. It’s been largely forgotten, but in that race, Romney demanded Kennedy release his tax returns, saying the veteran senator needed to “prove he [had] nothing to hide.”

“It’s time the biggest-taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes,” Romney said in April of 1994, as Maddow recounted. 

“Now does this mean Mitt Romney released his tax returns at the same time, that same year? Maddow asked. “Surely, he wouldn’t demand the other guy release his tax returns without releasing his own.” 

Surely he would. Despite his demand to Kennedy, Romney declined to release his own returns, saying he’d do so “the very same day” his opponent did.

Fast forward to 2002, when Romney was running for governor—and singing a different tune. During a gubernatorial debate, a reporter pointed out that all the Democratic candidates in the race—including his eventual opponent Shannon O’Brien—had released their tax returns. The reporter asked Romney if he had something to hide.

Romney replied:

Senator Kennedy, when I was running against him I said, ‘Boy, you gotta release those income tax returns,’ and he said, ‘No, I value my privacy.’ And I think he was right and I was wrong. As a result I do share his view on this. I’m not going to release my income tax returns. And, Shannon O’Brien’s husband, with whom I assume they share expenses, likewise hasn’t released his income taxes.

“He’s not releasing his tax returns,” Maddow summarized. “He was wrong to ever demand that his opponent Senator Kennedy should release his tax returns. But now that his new opponent Shannon O’Brien released her tax returns, well now how come we’re not seeing her husband’s too? It was a weird spot for Mr. Romney to be caught in.”

And in an even weirder response, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom—still a top Romney aide—separately said that, like in 1994, they’d release the returns only when Ted Kennedy did. Even though Kennedy had no connection to the governor’s race.

Maddow said her show asked the Romney campaign Friday if Romney’s offer to release his returns if Kennedy—who died in 2009—does so still stands. They haven’t received an answer.



Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney

The hits keep coming: Romney demanded Kennedy release tax returns, then backpedaled eight years later