Romney Says He Might Release Tax Returns, but Not Yet

The very wealthy former Massachusetts governor suggested he'd release his returns in April if he's in line for the nomination.

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Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said Monday he might release his tax returns -- but not before South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

Romney, who has said previously he had no intention of releasing tax returns, said if he becomes the nominee he may release them in mid-April. Romney said he would follow the tradition established by former President George W. Bush when he ran for office in 2000 and Arizona Sen. John McCain when he became the nominee in 2008.

"You know, I looked at what has been done in campaigns in the past with Sen. McCain and President Bush and others," Romney said at the Fox News Channel/Wall Street Journal debate. "They have tended to release tax records in April or around tax season. If that's the tradition, I'm not opposed to doing that. Time will tell. But I anticipate that most likely I am going to get asked to do that around the April time period and I'll keep that open."

Romney's personal wealth has been estimated at between $190 million and $250 million, and he may be taking advantage of controversial tax breaks and rates. The tax records would underscore his wealth and could reinforce perceptions that he's out of touch with Americans' daily economic struggles. This has already been a Democratic charge and his wealth in general terms is no mystery to voters. Specifics, however, could give the issue new bite.

Not surprisingly, Romney's rivals are putting the pressure on him to release the forms. "My income taxes have been out every year," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said to thundering applause. "Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your made your money. I think that's a fair thing. As Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now. So I hope you'll put your tax records out there this week so the people of South Carolina can take a  look and decide if we have a flawed candidate or not."

Romney ignored Perry's request entirely. He later was pinned down on the issue by a question from the Fox panel. Romney's schedule of releasing tax records similarly ignores Perry demand the voters in South Carolina learn the details of Romney's tax records before voting.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, now running a close second to Romney in South Carolina, plans to release his tax forms on Thursday.

Image credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed


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Major Garrett is a congressional correspondent for National Journal.

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