Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Romney, would not discuss internal debate about strategy but said there is only one opinion that matters in the internal strategy debate.
“The final voice on this is the governor’s, and he’s made it very clear that the two years that he’s provided represent going above and beyond what’s required to be disclosed,” he said.
Asked about his taxes in a telephone interview Tuesday with National Review Online, Romney said: “The opposition research of the Obama campaign is looking for anything they can use to distract from the failure of the president to reignite our economy.”
He added: “And I’m simply not enthusiastic about giving them hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort and lie about.”
Late Tuesday, after the interview with Romney, the editors of the National Review wrote an editorial arguing that the only question for Romney is “whether he releases more returns now, or later — after playing more defense on the issue and sustaining more hits.”
The editorial adds to a growing chorus of Romney allies urging him to make the additional information public. In response to a reporter’s question at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) also urged his former White House rival to be “as transparent as you can be,” although he appeared to stop short of calling on Romney to disclose more information.
The tax issue took center stage Tuesday in a campaign that has grown more acrimonious by the day, and Romney maintained that he would not release more than just the past two years of tax returns because he does not want to give the Obama campaign ammunition to attack him.
One reason for Romney’s reluctance is his belief that he will not be able to provide enough information to satisfy his critics.
“It’ll never be enough,” Madden said. “If you release 10, they’ll want 20. If you release 20, they’ll want 25, and whatever’s in there will be open to their distortions and their dishonest attacks.” The campaign has pointed to the fact that GOP nominee John McCain released only two years of returns during the 2008 campaign; Democrats have countered that McCain was the only one of the past seven White House challengers to release just two years of documents.
Many Republicans say Romney’s refusal to release the tax returns is beginning to cost him politically. “Perception is becoming Romney’s reality, and these issues have now risen above mere distractions,” said GOP consultant John Weaver, a senior adviser for McCain’s 2000 and 2008 bids. “The president has had the worst three months of any incumbent, due to the economy, since George H.W. Bush in 1992, and yet Romney has lost traction among key demographic groups in the vital swing states. He has got to get this behind him or he’s going to face summer definition a la [Bob] Dole and [John] Kerry.”