Mitt Romney’s Latest Dumb Response On The Tax Return Question

Inexplicably, Mitt Romney’s campaign still can’t seem to come up with a coherent response on the tax return question. More importantly, though, you would think that after a week of bad press, they’d have  something better than this latest statement on the subject, which  pretty much makes no sense whatsoever:

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Mitt Romney called on Newt Gingrich to release all correspondence he’d had with mortgage giant Freddie Mac on Saturday morning, the day of South Carolina’s primary, while meeting with supporters at his Upstate South Carolina campaign headquarters.

“I’d like to see the report,” he told reporters. “I’d like to see what he actually told Freddie Mac. Don’t you think? This is a big issue. We’ve got a Washington insider talking about Freddie Mac. Let’s see what his report was to Freddie Mac, what he said to them, what advice he gave them.”

Gingrich worked for Freddie Mac in the mid-2000s, but has said he served as a “historian” and never lobbied on Freddie’s behalf.

Romney has been criticized for having not yet released his tax returns, which he said will come out in April. In recent days he’s sought to turn the tables on Gingrich on the issue — he asked yesterday for him to release the House Ethics Committee report that led to a reprimand from the full House. Gingrich pointed out that the report was already public.

Seriously? This is how they’re going to try and turn this issue to their advantage? I honestly don’t care about Mitt Romney’s tax returns, but even I’m not convinced by this argument. More importantly, though, at this point the tax returns are turning into something of an albatross around the neck of the campaign. Romney has had two opportunities over the past week to get the issue behind him and he’s totally failed to do so. Trying to divert attention by bringing up Freddie Mac, which is a four month old story at this point, or Gingrich’s ethics issues from 1997, simply isn’t going to work at this point. Romney needs to come up with a clear plan for how and when he’s going to release his returns, make a clear public statement regarding that plan, and get the issue behind him. The more time he spends doing anything else with regard to this issue, the worse it will get for him.

This issue is going to come up again Monday night in the first Florida debate of the week. Either Romney will have an answer, or he won’t.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This issue is going to come up again Monday night in the first Florida debate of the week. Either Romney will have an answer, or he won’t.

    The issue is no longer Mitt’s tax returns. The issue is now his refusal to release them.

    The only way for him to “get the issue behind him” is to just release them… like 2 weeks ago. Too late for that, so maybe the Friday evening news dump? Nope, missed that too. Today? Naw, than it is all they talk about Sunday morn along with how the Newt destroyed him in SC… Sunday evening? What? And start another news cycle with this?

    Really, their incompetence on this issue just screams at me.

  2. The issue is no longer Mitt’s tax returns. The issue is now his refusal to release them.

    Exactly. This was a process issue —- “when is Romney going to release his returns?” — that has become a campaign issue — “why hasn’t Romney released his returns?” —- all because of the Keystone Kops manner in which the campaign has handled it.

  3. So how long until some birther style conspiracy forms about Mitt Romney’s tax returns? One that is both utterly ridiculously and that refuses to go away even after they are released and utterly refute it?

  4. michael reynolds says:

    The problem is not just his tax returns, or his increasingly evident dickishness, or the fact that he’s unloved by voters, or that he stands for nothing but the betterment of his own privileged class. There’s the fact that he can’t go off-script:

    Ingraham pointed out that the President and Treasury Secretary have said the economy is getting better, with more job being created on a monthly basis. Romney himself, she added, has said there are signs improvement on the horizon. So, “how do you answer the President’s argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign if you yourself are saying that it’s getting better?”

    “Well, of course it’s getting better,” said Romney. “The economy always gets better after a recession.” The question, he continued, is whether it’s getting better because of something the President has done, or whether he’s delaying that inevitable recovery. You can guess which side of the fence Romney falls on.

    “Isn’t that a hard argument to make?” asked Ingraham.

    Romney didn’t flinch: “Do you have a better one, Laura?”

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Is Romney really going to take this beating until April…and then endure the inevitable prolonged analysis of what’s in them?
    Or will he release them now…and look weak because he gave in to the pressure?
    Obama ignored the Birthers…then used his long-form birth certificate to make a fool of Trump. Can Romney do something similar? Probably not. Hard to see how this is ever gets a positive spin for Romney in the OWS era.

  6. The Gingrich correspondence would be fun to see.

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    My thought is the returns must really be toxic.

  8. Gustopher says:

    If the contents of his returns really are that toxic, what is to prevent him from releasing false returns? How would people know? I’m pretty sure the IRS can’t come out and say “Um, guys, that’s not what he filed…”

    Also, if his father was born in Mexico, is he really a natural born citizen?

  9. Fiona says:

    The longer he waits, the more it looks like he has something to hide. At this point, releasing his 2010 return won’t be enough. As his dad said, it’s easy enough to game one year’s return, which is why you need to release several years.

    This whole tax return thing and his response to him does indeed make him look wormy and “dickish,” even more so than usual and could well cost him Florida (and perhaps the nomination) if he doesn’t get out ahead of it.

  10. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I’m not so sure they are terribly toxic. However, as the saying goes, “I don’t have any facts to back that up.”

    My speculation rests entirely on the mans abject fear of being perceived as rich.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    So how long until some birther style conspiracy forms about Mitt Romney’s tax returns?

    Probably never…there is quite a difference between proving that the President was actually born in this country and seeing what Romney’s tax rate is, perhaps lower than many other Americans who have a significanty lower income than he does…

  12. Kylopod says:

    I admit I’ve been indulging in conspiracy fantasies about his tax returns over the last few days. What sorts of massively damaging revelations could be contained in them I haven’t the foggiest clue, but the prospect, however unlikely, of a looming scandal that would knock off the only candidate who could plausibly take on Obama in the fall, is just too good for this partisan Dem to pass up.

  13. deathcar2000 says:

    Mitt Romney is just John Kerry in drag, or is it the other way around. either way they are just really plastic and poor imitations of how humans act. their electoral chances will line up just about the same.

    The Republican 1% goes blah, blah,blah, but the Democrat 1% goes blah, blah, blah!

    eat the rich, i hear they tast like real fancy chicken!

    Mmmmmmmmm, chicken.

  14. mattb says:

    Man, first Bachmann, then Perry, then Romney… Man these GOP folks need telepromters…