Obama team offers Romney tax return deal: five years

August 17, 2012

President Obama's campaign is proposing a grand bargain when it comes to Mitt Romney's tax returns.

In a letter to Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades early Friday, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote that if Romney releases five years of returns -- three more than he currently has agreed to -- the Obama campaign will not call on him to release any more.

"Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers, the more our campaign will demand that he provide," Messina wrote. "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."

Romney's campaign has suggested that Democrats will never be pleased with the number of years tax returns they release. But that's not their only stated problem with releasing more; they also say Democrats will take what's in the returns and blow it out of proportion.

Needless to say, Romney's campaign isn't impressed with Messina's offer.

In a letter responding to Messina, Rhoades accused him of trying to distract from the real issues and essentially said, 'Bring it on.'

"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," Rhoades wrote. "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."

To see the complete letters, head on over to our new Election 2012 blog.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · August 17, 2012