Romney Firm On Tax Returns

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CNN — Mitt Romney remained steadfast in his pledge to release only two years of his personal income tax returns Monday following a weekend of increased pressure from Democrats and some Republicans to disclose more of his financial information.

Romney, appearing on Fox News, said his rivals wanted to “make a mountain” out of an issue he regards as inconsequential compared to problems facing many Americans.

“John McCain ran for president and released two years of tax returns. John Kerry ran for president and his wife, who has hundreds of millions of dollars, she never released her tax returns. Somehow this wasn’t an issue,” Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, said in the interview.

“The Obama people keep on wanting more and more and more, more things to pick through, more things for their opposition research to try and make a mountain out of and distort and to be dishonest about,” Romney continued, reissuing his pledge to release two years worth of returns.

Over the weekend, Democrats and some Republicans hit Romney for not releasing more tax information, saying having further documentation of Romney’s financial holdings would shed light on any offshore investments. Romney released tax returns from 2010, and put out an estimate of his 2011 information in April. He filed an extension with the Internal Revenue Service to file after the April deadline, and has vowed to release the official documents when they’re completed by his accountant.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama’s senior campaign adviser David Axelrod said such limited disclosure only raised more questions about Romney’s financial situation.

“His father said if you release one year, it could be a fluke, it could be just for show,” Axelrod said, referring to George Romney, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of the 1968 election.

Axelrod continued, “I can only conclude, with all these Republicans asking him to release these returns, that whatever is in those returns would be more damaging to his campaign than simply not releasing them.”

Some Republicans also began pushing Romney to release for tax information over the weekend, saying it would be politically savvy to release the information to avoid a drawn-out fight with Democrats.

“He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It’s crazy,” conservative columnist Bill 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.”

On ABC, former George W. Bush aide Matthew Dowd made similar remarks, saying of Romney’s tax returns, “There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it.'”

All of this, Romney said Monday, was a distraction from the real issues of the campaign. He said his own campaign was happy to compare itself with Obama’s administration on transparency, citing president’s use of executive privilege to withhold documents related to the botched Fast and Furious program.

“The administration has shown a serious departure from the transparency from which they suggested we had,” Romney said. “And the American people should be calling for that kind transparency.”