'This Week' Transcript: GOP Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

And, Amy, this gets to the question I think a lot of us were mystified. You knew this question was coming all year long, yet you've seen a series of four or five different answers from Mitt Romney. Now we know we're going to see two years on Tuesday.

WALTER: That's right. And he has to be able to answer for them confidently. I mean, that seems to be the bigger issue here, which is, he puts it out there and then he backs up a little bit. And that goes to the heart of the problem, I think, we're all getting at, whether it's his Mitt-ness or his Romney-ness, the sense that there is not a core there and people can't hold onto it.

Listen, I think that -- that he can defend himself and his record and his wealth and his -- his record on Wall Street, but he has to look confident doing it. And he has to look as if he can do that with Barack Obama, not just in a Republican debate.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But last night, Mitt Romney abandoned the job-creation argument. It was really an argument for success and the ability to make wealth in this country. His job-creation numbers have been repudiated. His tax figures will now be raked over. He has offshore banking accounts via Bain. This is a moment not of populism in this country...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... pays a full U.S. tax on.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But he has -- but he has now entered a moment which I think his team never anticipated. There was a smugness and arrogance about being the inevitable candidate that led them to sort of be unaware of the mood in this country at this moment, which is about a view that the elites -- there are elites in this country, that the government is rigged against you and that you need to find a way to open it up out of the special interest money.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain why Mitt Romney is having so much difficulty with this issue? What is it that he's trying to hide? Where does the discomfort come from?

WILL: You mean on the taxes?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah.

WILL: I don't know. We'll know when we get, perhaps, more than two years, because once you start from, "Maybe I'll release one year," then you say, "I'm going to release two," the call will now go up, "What's in the third year?" And if you release the third, what's in the fourth? So he's going to have to have a large...

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: I don't think -- I don't think it has anything -- I've been with enough candidates, George, and you've been with enough candidates, and we've all been with enough candidates -- I don't think it's that he has something to hide. I don't think that's it at all. I don't think there's like, whoa, what's -- what's all this?

What I think it is, is a typical candidate that decides they don't think they need to do it. And in 1994, he said I'm not doing it, he never released them. In 2002 running for governor, he never released them. As governor, he never released them. He runs for president, never released them. He gets in his head, "I don't need to release them," and no matter what anybody tells him, that's the problem.

BROWNSTEIN: Here's where -- I have to give an anonymous shoutout to one senior Romney supporter in South Carolina who said to me Friday, "He can release his taxes before or after he loses the South Carolina primary," that basically, that once he lost, they were going to come out, and why not release them beforehand to give yourself a better chance to win?

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