The Obama campaign made this offer Friday: Release five years of returns and we won't demand more. But that does not address Mitt Romney's concern that he will face more attacks on the content of his returns. Team Obama could face diminishing returns with its tactic.
Following Mitt Romney’s statement Thursday that he “never paid less than 13 percent” in income taxes, the Obama campaign is playing Let’s Make a Deal: Release five years of tax returns, and we’ll stop asking for more.
“Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote to Romney’s campaign manager in a letter Friday.
“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.”
Moments later, Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades shot back a reply that ignored the question:
“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,” Mr. Rhoades said in an e-mail copied to the media.
With its gambit, Team Obama doubled down on its tactic of hounding the wealthy Romney on his tax rate. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid claimed last month that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years, but has refused to provide any evidence or name his source. The issue faded with the naming of Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate last Saturday, but now it’s back – and like a dog with a bone, the Obama campaign won’t let go.
The upside for President Obama is that it reinforces the notion that Romney has something to hide and helps keep him “underwater” on likability in polls. The downside is that the negative approach begins to hurt Mr. Obama more than it helps.