ABC News’ George Will slammed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for failing to fully release information on his tax returns and offshore accounts, saying Romney “must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd agreed, saying “there’s obviously something there” in Romney’s returns that he doesn’t want public.
“If something’s going to come out, get it out in a hurry,” Will said this morning on the “This Week” roundtable. “I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that [John] 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’s impolitic,” Will added. “And he’s now in the politics business.”
Will said Romney is “losing [the argument] at this point in a big way” in the debate over his tax returns, which the Obama campaign has hammered on in the past week.
“The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,” Will said. “Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”
Romney released his 2010 tax returns earlier this year during the Republican primaries, and has said he plans to release his 2011 returns later this year, after filing for an extension.
But Romney has never publicly released past years of tax returns, either during his 2008 presidential run, while he was governor of Massachusetts, or during his 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. Romney did, however, reportedly provide 23 years of his tax returns to the McCain campaign when they considered him for vice president in 2008.
Political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said “there’s obviously something there” in Romney’s tax returns that he doesn’t want to release publicly, adding that Romney’s refusal to produce his prior returns was a sign of “arrogance.”
“There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it,’” Dowd said. “So there’s obviously something there that compromises what he said in the past about something.”
“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,’” Dowd added. “If he had 20 years of ‘great, clean, everything’s fine,’ it’d all be out there, but it’s arrogance.”
But Republican strategist Mary Matalin said the debate over Romney’s tax returns and offshore accounts is a “distraction, and it’s not what people care about.”
“People don’t care where his bank accounts are. They care that they don’t have much left in their bank accounts,” Matalin said. “They don’t care about his taxes. They care about their own taxes… We could put two decades of tax returns out. Is that going to produce two jobs?”
Dowd agreed with Matalin that the attacks by the Obama campaign on Romney for not releasing his tax returns were an attempt to deflect from President Obama’s economic record.
“To me, the problem is the president is doing exactly what he needs to do because he wants to cover up on a failed record,” Dowd said. “He’s doing exactly what he thinks, the ends justify the means, I’m going to attack this guy, tear him down, and that’s what I need to do, because the direction of the country is bad.”
But Dowd said the Obama campaign’s attacks were “like karma” after Romney attacked the records of his Republican primary opponents.
“This is like karma to me. Mitt Romney did the same exact thing that Barack Obama is doing to him,” Dowd said. “He did it to Newt Gingrich… He did the same thing to Rick Santorum.”
“So now, all of a sudden… in a general election against a very professional group of people, against a very astute politician, against a Chicago machine who’s doing the same thing he did, and now he’s sitting there saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this. I can’t believe you’re doing this,’” Dowd added.