Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama's Messina offers Mitt tax return "deal" & Rhoades reply

| No Comments

WASHINGTON--Obama campaign manager Jim Messina--in a bid to create a Friday peg to keep the Mitt Romney income tax return story in the news--made an early morning offer to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades: If Romney releases five year of returns--the Obama team will stop calling for more disclosures.

Messina said release of taxes from 2007 was not "unreasonable." That would mean Romney puts on the table three more years than currently expected. He has released his 2010 return and has pledged to make public his 2011 returns when they are ready--he filed for an extension.

"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," Messina.

On Thursday, Romney said he has paid a tax rate of at least 13 percent for the past ten years. Ann Romney has said the couple will not disclose more returns--all it does is provide ammunition for attacks.

A short time after the Messina "offer," Rhoades said no thanks in a "Hey, Jim" 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," Rhoades wrote.

Rhoades ended with a "see you in Denver." That's a reference to Oct. 3, when Obama and Romney hold the first presidential debate in Colorado.

My column on the Romney federal income tax disclosure issue is HERE

Here's the Messina letter to Rhoades, followed by the Rhoades reply:

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 Manage

RHOADES REPLY

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

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 17, 2012 8:28 AM.

Rahm's Aug. 17 public schedule: Small business boost was the previous entry in this blog.

Toni Preckwinkle poll: High job approval rating is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.