Friday night, during his five-interview media blitz on the subject of his departure from Bain Capital, Mitt Romney once again said that he did not intend to release his personal tax returns beyond the two-years' worth he's already made available. In Mitt's estimation, his 2010 and 2011 returns are "all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances." The Obama campaign has long disagreed with him on that, and they've now found an unlikely ally in conservative pundit Bill Kristol.
"He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy," Kristol said on "Fox News Sunday." "You gotta release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two."
The conservative commentator said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee then should give a speech on Thursday calling for a "serious" debate with President Barack Obama on capitalism, allowing the campaign to turn the page and put the focus back on the president's record.
Meanwhile, Romney adviser Ed Gillespie told CNN's State of the Union that two-years' worth of returns met the "relevant standard" set by John McCain in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004. While he's right about McCain, it's not really accurate to say the same of Kerry. As has been pointed out in the past, Kerry released his returns to the Massachusetts press during all of his Senate campaigns, which means that twenty-years' worth had been made public by the time he ran for president. As a Kerry spokesperson put it to Talking Points Memo this morning, "Ed Gillespie should know better."
Update: Rahm Emanuel seized on the McCain theme during an appearance on ABC's This Week, pointing out that the people responsible for vetting Romney for the 2008 Republican veepstakes saw 23 years'-worth of his tax returns: "John McCain’s campaign looked at it and went, 'Let’s go with Sarah Palin.' So whatever’s in there is far worse than just the first year." Conservative columnist George Will, who appeared alongside Emanuel, echoed that idea, saying, "The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them." Their fellow guest, Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, concurred: "There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it.''"