Commentary Magazine


Romney Rejects Obama Tax Return Request

After accusing Mitt Romney of being a tax cheat failed to get results, the Obama campaign has written an open letter to Mitt Romney asking very nicely to see the last five years of his tax returns. Maybe they should have tried this approach in the first place. At this point, it’s hard to blame the Romney campaign for telling them to take a hike:

“Thanks for the note,” [Romney campaign manager Matt] Rhoades wrote. “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 that Messina and his campaign could continue talking about Romney’s tax returns – but that his team would focus on the economy.

“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,” Rhoades wrote. “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.”

Rhoades’ point about Obama wanting to make the tax returns the top election issue is probably spot-on. Obviously Romney has no intention of releasing his tax returns, or else he would have done it already. The only chance the Obama campaign has of getting those documents is if the media pressure forces Romney into it. But with the media tsk-tsking the Obama campaign’s mudslinging, and the Romney campaign acting righteously indignant over Harry Reid’s accusations, a polite open letter is the only way it can hope to get any results.

Is this a sign the Obama campaign is going to lay low with the over-the-top attacks for a while? Or just a last-ditch effort from a campaign that’s running out of ways to change the subject?