CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) issued an ultimatum to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) yesterday, calling on Romney to release his tax returns before tonight’s debate so Americans could examine his personal finances like they have done with every presidential candidate in modern history.
Perry left the Republican presidential primary this morning and endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), who plans to release his own tax returns today. At Perry’s announcement here, former South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson, who had endorsed Perry, also called on Romney to “do the right thing” and make his tax returns public:
KEYES: He’s been pretty vocal about calling on Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
DAWSON: All us politicians have to do it and eventually you do. It’s either pay me now or pay me later. That’s what’s going to happen.
KEYES: So you think Romney is going to have to release them?
DAWSON: You’re not going to run a race without having to do it. It’s going to be a continued question mark. I’m sure that Governor Romney will do the right thing.
Romney has said he may release his tax returns for last year once he files them in April.
The challenges aren’t just coming from Romney’s fellow Republican candidates. Romney also faced a challenge from a questioner at a South Carolina campaign event this morning. When asked why he hadn’t made his returns public, Romney replied, “Yeah, I will actually. You’ll hear more about that. April.”
Calls for the release of Romney’s tax returns have intensified over the last two days after Romney said his tax rate is “closer to 15 percent” — less than many middle class Americans — because most of his income comes from investments. Further questions have resulted regarding the fact that Romney still draws significant income from his former company, Bain Capital, which has often utilized offshore tax havens. ABC News also reported last night that Romney himself holds investments that utilize tax havens in the Cayman Islands.