The official line from the Romney campaign is that calls to release his tax returns are an Obama attempt to distract from the economy. Well, George Will, Matthew Dowd and Bill Kristol obviously didn't get the memo. They all called for Romney to come clean and release the returns.
On "This Week," Will said that by not releasing his returns, Romney was handing Obama a club to beat him over the head with on this issue.
WILL: Oh, Mitt Romney is losing at this point in a big way. If something's going to come out, get it out in a hurry. I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didn't get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest. He's done nothing illegal, nothing unseemly, nothing improper, but lots that impolitic. And this is -- and he's now in the politics business.Later on, Dowd and Will pressed the point, and almost sounded like Kossacks in the process.
DOWD: I have seen this with candidates. I saw this with the DWI with President Bush that came out late in the campaign. I've seen it with a number of other candidates I worked for. I think it's two things.Earlier, on Fox News Sunday, Kristol said the risk of releasing the returns was far less than the risk of keeping them hidden.
First of all, there's obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, "Have at it." So there's obviously something there that compromises what he said in the past about something. So that's -- but I think the bigger thing is, it's arrogance. These -- many of these politicians think, "I can do this. I can get away with this. I don't need to do this, because I'm going to say something and I don't have to do this." And that in the end is the problem, is that they sort of walk into (inaudible) say, I don't have to do that, I can address it some other way, but he obviously -- if he had 20 years of great, clean, everything's fine, it'd all be out there, but it's arrogance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I -- I want to get to Donna, but you're nodding your head at that.
WILL: Absolutely. Look, what Mitt Romney has said is he has released, and I quote, "all that's necessary for people to understand something about my finances." Now, the something is a pregnant word. And people are going to say there's -- the cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.
KRISTOL: Listen, it's weird for Governor Romney to be saying, hey, I wasn't running Bain as if there's something wrong with running Bain. Governor Romney ran Bain extremely successfully...You've got three prominent Republican bigshots calling for their standard-bearer to release his tax returns--in less than three hours' time. It's a sign that the Republican establishment is clearly worried this could blow up in Romney's face in November.
HUME: Isn't that's what's meant by the trap. That's why it's a trap.
KRISTOL: He needs to defend it. This is what he did for most of his adult life. He is proud of what he did. And here's what he should do, he should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy. You've got to release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two and then make a serious speech on Thursday in which he says OK we've had this ridiculous picayune debate on whether or not I took my leave from Bain and when I didn't and you can now look at my tax returns.