The Huffington Post Sabrina Siddiqui First Posted: 08/17/12 09:49 AM ET Updated: 08/17/12 12:43 PM ET
With the spotlight back on Mitt Romney's tax returns, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina reached out to the Romney campaign on Friday pledging a deal: If Romney releases five more years of tax returns, the Obama campaign will no longer criticize the presumptive GOP presidential nominee for his refusal to disclose more information.
"I am writing to ask again that the Governor release multiple years of tax returns, but also to make an offer that should address his concerns about the additional disclosures," Messina wrote to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades. "Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide. So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: if the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more -- neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign."
But Romney's campaign was unmoved. Rhoades offered the following response:
Thanks for the note.
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.
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.
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.
See you in Denver.
Romney for President
The penning of letters comes a day after Romney sought to put an end to speculation over his taxes by telling reporters he has paid a tax rate of at least 13 percent every year for the past 10 years. His comments marked the first time Romney has directly rebuked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's charge that he didn't pay taxes for a decade, an allegation that placed a renewed focus on the former Massachusetts governor's tax returns. In turn, the Obama campaign had a simple response to Romney's claim: "Prove it."
With only 81 days to go until the election, it is unlikely that Romney will release additional returns to prove his statement. But Democrats will probably continue to press on and perhaps look to seize on the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate. According to the Atlantic, Romney would have paid an effective tax rate of 0.82 percent in 2010 under Ryan's budget proposal, a point the Obama campaign will try to highlight as the race moves forward.
Read the full text of Messina's letter below:
I am writing to ask again that the Governor release multiple years of tax returns, but also to make an offer that should address his concerns about the additional disclosures. Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide. So I am prepared to provide assurances on just that point: if the Governor will release five years of returns, I commit in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more -- neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign.
This request for the release of five years, covering the complete returns for 2007-2012, is surely not unreasonable. Other Presidential candidates have released more, including the Governor's father who provided 12 years of returns. In the Governor's case, a five year release would appropriately span all the years that he has been a candidate for President. It would also help answer outstanding questions raised by the one return he has released to date, such as the range in the effective rates paid, the foreign accounts maintained, the foreign investments made, and the types of tax shelters used.
To provide these five years, the Governor would have to release only three more sets of returns in addition to the 2010 return he has released and the 2011 return he has pledged to provide. And, I repeat, the Governor and his campaign can expect in return that we will refrain from questioning whether he has released enough or pressing for more.
I look forward to your reply.
Obama for America Campaign Manager