The chorus of conservatives calling for Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns has grown from being mostly those with an ax to grind to elected officials and the conservative establishment. Here's who's on the record wanting Romney's taxes on the record so far:
- Rick Perry. The Texas governor told the Associated Press on Tuesday, "I’m a big believer that no matter who you are, or what office you’re running for, you should be as transparent as you can be with your tax returns and other aspects of your life so that people have the appropriate ability to judge your background and what have you.... I think anyone running for office, if they get asked within reason to give people background about what they have been doing, including tax returns, should do that."
- Ron Paul. "Politically, I think that would help him.... In the scheme of things politically, you know, it looks like releasing tax returns is what the people want," the former presidential candidate told Politico on Tuesday.
- Brit Hume. "Anytime it’s an issue between disclosure and nondisclosure, you always wonder whether it’s better just to put it out there," the Fox News commentator told Bill O'Reilly on Monday night.
- The editors of National Review. On Tuesday afternoon, the conservative magazine called on Romney to release the returns, deal with the media headache, and then move on. "Romney may feel impatience with requirements that the political culture imposes on a presidential candidate that he feels are pointless (and inconvenient). But he’s a politician running for the highest office in the land, and his current posture is probably unsustainable. In all likelihood, he won’t be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits. There will surely be a press feeding frenzy over new returns, but better to weather it in the middle of July."
- Robert Bentley. The governor of Alabama told ABC News on Monday, "I just believe in total transparency.... In fact, I was asked today that question — do you think that Governor Romney should release his tax returns? And I said I do. I said, I release my tax returns. I may be the only public official in Alabama that does, but I release mine every year and I just believe that people should release their tax returns. And if you get them out and just get past that, it just makes it so much easier."
- Haley Barbour. The former governor of Mississippi told National Review on Monday, "He ought to release his returns.... Any time this campaign’s conversation is not about President Obama’s failed policies... then the [Romney] campaign isn’t talking about the right thing.... You would think this is the only thing happening in the campaign, which is why Romney needs to put it behind him. It’s a distraction and he needs to get back to what matters."
- Bill Kristol. The editor of The Weekly Standard said on Fox News Sunday, "He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy. You got to release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two. Then give a serious speech on Thursday... about capitalism."
- Matthew Dowd. The former adviser to George W. Bush said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "I think the bigger thing is, it's arrogance. 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.' And that in the end is the problem...." When conservative commentator Mary Matalin disagreed, Dowd said to her, "Mary, you know, if that was you, [if] I said that's truth serum in that cup, and you were advising a candidate like Mitt Romney in this instance, you would say, 'We've got to get this out there.' You would say, 'We've got to get this out there to deal with this.'"
- George Will. The conservative Washington Post columnist said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "Mitt Romney has said he has released all that’s necessary for people to understand 'something' about my finances. Now 'something' is a pregnant word.... The costs of not releasing the returns are clear, therefore he must have calculated there are higher costs to releasing them." He also addressed Matalin: "But, Mary, is it not what you call a 'real fact' that Mitt Romney gave to the [John] McCain campaign, when it was considering him as a running mate, 23 years of tax returns?"
- John Weaver. The Republican consultant who worked for Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign told USA Today on Saturday, "Stop demanding an apology, release your tax returns."
- Rick Tyler. The aide to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign told Politico on Thursday night that Romney needed to release his tax returns so people could see if he was being paid by Bain Capital past 1999, when he quit. "Or we’ll just have drip, drip, drip to November."
- Rep. Walter Jones. The North Carolina Republican told CNN on Thursday, "I think he should release his financial records, and I think if he does it in July it would be a lot better than in October."
- Rep. Pete Sessions. The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee told CNN on Thursday, "His personal finances, the way he does things, his record, are fair game."
- Michael Steele. The former chair of the Republican National Committee said on MSNBC July 10, "Look, if there's nothing there, there's no there there, don't create a there.... In other words, put out as much information as you can. Even if you don't release 12 years' worth of tax returns, at least three, four, five. You begin that drip back the other way. And it helps to offset some of the noise and the bleeding, if you will, from the cuts that you're getting."
While we're getting Republicans who want to see Romney's taxes on the record, we're hunting for those precious few who've already seen the things IRL. On July 13, Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler suggested Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's 2008 campaign, which vetted Romney and others as potential running mates and eventually picked Sarah Palin. Three days later, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell asked Schmidt what was in the files, but alas, Schmidt didn't know. "I never saw the tax returns," Schmidt said. "They would have been seen by A.B. Culvahouse and Rick Davis, who ran the vetting operation for Sen. McCain in that campaign." Curses! What have Davis and Culvahouse said?! So far, not much.