Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Friday refused to explain why presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would not release his tax returns, calling the request a “distraction” that was bad as so-called “birthers” who believe that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
During an interview on CNN, host Brooke Baldwin pointed out that a recent CNN poll found that 63 percent of voters wanted Romney to diclose more than the two years of tax returns he had already released.
“Come on, Reince,” Baldwin pleaded with Priebus. “It’s a perfectly valid question. If American say — if they say they want to see tax returns, why shouldn’t — they deserve to see them. Tranparency.”
“I can think of a million interesting questions,” Priebus replied.
“How about the answer though?” Baldwin pressed.
“It’s ridiculous,” the RNC chairman insisted. “I mean, he’s released two years of taxes, he’s releasing 2011, he released 500 pages of documents. This is — the fact of the matter is any second that we spend not talking the fact that this president failed in his mission — the mission to fix this economy. He campaigned on this economy. He hasn’t accomplished a darn thing. We’re worse off. That’s the issue. And I’m not spending any more time talking about this issue.”
Changing the subject, guest host John Berman noted that his sources had confirmed that billionaire birther Donald Trump claimed he would have a “major role” at this month’s Republican National Convention.
“Donald Trump is a good friend of our party,” Priebus explained. “And I’m thankful to Donald Trump for all the work that he’s done for us and for Gov. Romney. So, I do agree that he’s been a very good friend of ours, but I don’t know right now what he’s going to do at the convention.”
“But I do know that he’s important to us, and I know that he’s somebody that we appreciate,” he added. “Because he’s telling the truth as far as where we’re at in this economy.”
“Is it a good message to send for a guy who’s still a birther, still calling for the president to release his college transcripts?” Berman wondered. “Is that the kind of guy you want on the podium during the Republican convention?”
“I have been, from the very moment that I have been chairman of this party, very clear as far as where I stand on that issue,” Priebus remarked. “And it’s just as much a distraction as it is for people to ask for more, more tax returns and all of these other issues.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Starting Point via Think Progress, broadcast Aug. 8, 2012.