President Obama's campaign is offering Mitt Romney a deal: Release five years of tax returns, and we'll stop demanding more.
"Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide," wrote Obama
campaign manager Jim Messina in a letter today to Romney
counterpart Matt Rhoades.
"So," Messina added, "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."
The offer comes a day after Romney said he has paid a tax rate of at least 13% per year over the past decade
In his letter, Messina wrote that other candidates have released more that five years of returns. He said a Romney release would "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."
Also from Messina:
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.
Demands for tax returns have dogged Romney throughout the Republican primaries and the general election.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, amped up the issue by claiming that a "source" told him that Romney has paid no taxes at all in some years.
Romney said, "Harry Reid's charge is totally false," and he doubts anyone told Reid that.
In divulging the 13% figure, the Republican candidate also told reporters that the tax issue is being used to distract people.
"I have to say, given the challenges America faces -- 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty -- the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small minded compared to the broad issues that we face," Romney said.