Mitt Romney continues to resist pressure to turn over more tax returns. In an interview today he said he is “simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.”
The call for more information about Romney’s financial past, however, is bipartisan. A poll released today found fifty six percent of all voters, including sixty one percent of independents, think that Romney should release twelve years of returns.
These fifteen prominent Republicans are calling on Romney to release more tax returns, now:
1. George Will. On ABC’s “This Week,” Will, a long-time conservative commentator and Washington Post columnist, said, “The costs of not releasing the returns are clear, therefore he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” At one point, he even played devil’s advocate to Republican consultant Mary Matalin, who was defending Romney.
2. Bill Kristol. “Here’s what he should do,” said Kristol, another conservative commentator, on Fox News. “He should release the tax returns tomorrow. This is crazy… you’ve got to release 6, 8, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two. Then give a serious speech on Thursday.”
3. Ron Paul. Unitl just days ago, Paul was the other Republican presidential candidate. He is also one of those calling for Romney to release the returns. Paul told Politico today, “Politically, I think that would help him. …In the scheme of things politically, you know, it looks like releasing tax returns is what the people want.”
4. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. The Alabama Governor actually went further than others in suggesting that perhaps Romney is hiding something by not releasing his tax returns. “If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong,” he told the AP. “I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.“
5. Michael Steele. The former chair of the Republican National Committee is pushing for release. He claims it will help voters trust Romney, especially since he claims there is nothing to see in the returns: “If there’s nothing there, there’s no ‘there’ there, don’t create a ‘there.’ Put out as much information as you can. Even if you don’t release 12 years worth of tax returns, at least three, four, five.”
6. Rep. Walter Jones. In an interview with CNN, the Republican Congressman from North Carolina said, “I think he should release his financial records and I think if he does it in July it would be a lot better than in October. …whenever you are asking for the vote of the American people you need to fully disclose what your holdings are, if you have any.”
7. Ana Navarro. “He should just release the stupid taxes and eliminate the Obama campaign tactic of insinuating he’s got something to hide,” the former adviser to John McCain said. “The Obama people are going to keep the issue alive and it has the potential of mushrooming into a bigger issue. …It’s time to just pull off the band-aid.”
8. Rep. Pete Sessions. Sessions (R-TX) leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, and even he called Romney’s tax returns “fair game” and a “legitimate question.” In an interview with CNN, Sessions said that “[Romney's] personal finances, the way he does things, his record, are fair game.”
9. Gov. Haley Barbour. The Mississippi Governor has been outspoken about the need for Romney to hand over the documents. “The advice I would give Romney is: Who cares about your tax returns? Release ’em!” Barbour said in a phone interview. “We need for this campaign to be about Obama’s record.” Earlier this week, Barbour also called for Romney to release the returns on CNN.
10. Matthew Dowd. This conservative commentator called it “arrogance” that Romney was not releasing his returns. Joining forced with Bill Kristol, Dowd spoke candidly about his doubts around Romney’s tax returns: “There is obviously something because if there was nothing there he would say have it…But I think the bigger thing is, it’s arrogance. Many of these politicians think I can do this, I can get away with this.”
11. Rick Tyler. Republican strategist and former adviser to Newt Gingrich’s campaign had this to say about Romney’s returns: “Mitt Romney had an opportunity to answer these questions during the primary. …He did not answer these questions and now they’re coming up again. …Only [Romney] can provide that information. …Or we’ll just have drip, drip, drip to November.”
12. John Weaver. This Republican strategist had a straightforward message that got picked up as a quote-of-the day. In regard to Romney releasing his returns, he said, “There is no whining in politics. …Stop demanding an apology, release your tax returns.”
13. Brit Hume. The conservative Fox News commentator told fellow Fox man Bill O’Reilly, “Any time it’s disclosure versus non-disclosure, you always wonder whether it isn’t better to put it out there. And if it turns out that if people get to hear once again that Mitt Romney is a very very rich man. …I guess the Obama team would have some sport with that for a couple days.”
14. David Frum. The conservative journalist David Frum Tweeted his opinion on the tax release controversy. “Tax returns the next problem. Releasing returns under pressure: more weakness, more pain,” he wrote in one tweet. “Do promptly and cheerfully what you will eventually have to do anyway,” he added.
15. John Feehery. This Republican strategist joined the growing list of Republicans asking Romney to release the returns when speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. “Might as well get it over with,” he told her, “Couple of years, get it over with.”
16. Gov. Rick Perry Texas Governor and former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry (R) has come out and urged Romney to release his returns. According to the AP, “Perry said that anyone running for office should give people what he called ‘backgrounds,’ including tax returns, if asked and if the requests are within reason.” When Perry was running for President, he released 10 years of returns.
17. Sen. Chuck Grassley The Iowa Republican joins the fray, The Hill reports: “”I don’t think he should be called on to do anything extraordinary other than what other presidential candidates have done.’ When asked if he thought Romney should do as much as prior presidential nominees have, meaning release more returns, Grassley said, ‘based upon my comment, I’d have to say yes.’”
18. Sen. Dick Lugar In an interview with CBS, Lugar, who himself ran for president in 1998, said it would be smart for Romney to release more returns. “‘It was quite a number which we released.’ …He added it would be “prudent” for Romney to release more years of his tax returns. ‘I have no idea on why he has restricted the number to this point,’ Lugar said.”
19. Wayne MacDonald The chair of the New Hampshire GOP came out and told the Washington Post in a phone interview that Romney should probably just release the returns. “Certainly, I don’t think Mitt Romney has anything to hide, and probably the best thing to do is to eliminate any chance for (the Democrats) to make this an issue,” he said. New Hampshire will be an important state in the election.
20. Mike Murphy The Daily Beast adds another person, long-time GOP consultant and former Romney employee, to the ever-growing list: “‘Why they didn’t release more of this material a year ago is confusing to me,’ says Mike Murphy, a veteran GOP consultant who has worked for Romney in the past.”
While these Republicans have downplayed the effects of Romney releasing his returns, the tax information may not be so innocuous to the campaign after all. Several experts have said they believe Romney could have paid little to no taxes at all in past years (particularly 2009).
National Review, the conservative publication whose interview is quoted in the first paragraph of this post, has just come out and asked Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. National Review are long-time Romney supporters; they endorsed him in 2008. Here is National Review’s editorial:
The Romney campaign says he has released as many returns as candidate John Kerry did in 2004, and cites Teresa Heinz Kerry’s refusal to release any of her tax returns. Neither is an apt comparison [...]
Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July.