White House sidesteps raging Romney tax returns battle
WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday refused to be drawn into a fierce row involving the top Senate Democrat Harry Reid, branded a “dirty liar” by Republicans for his accusations about Mitt Romney’s tax record.
Senate Majority leader Reid claimed last week that a secret source had told him that the wealthy presumptive Republican presidential nominee had not paid any taxes at all for a decade.
“You can talk to Senator Reid, I’m sure (he) will address this issue if you ask him. He certainly speaks for himself,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, when peppered by questions about the majority leader’s attack.
Carney would not be drawn into answering questions about Reid’s tactics as Republicans claim the Nevada senator is throwing around wild accusations with no evidence. He did not specifically condemn Reid’s approach however.
Carney did however did say that President Barack Obama backed the tradition of White House candidates releasing “multiple” years of tax returns, a step that Romney has declined to take.
“The issue here is one of transparency and again, as the president sees it, with regards to his candidacy … an important tradition that allows the American people to get a sense of a candidate’s background.”
Obama campaign officials have declined to condemn Reid’s approach, and argue that multi-millionaire Romney could simply clear up all questions about his complex financial arrangements by releasing tax returns.
The Republican candidate has so far released his tax returns for 2010 and has pledged to do so for 2011 when they are ready.
But he is refusing to hand out any more information, saying that it would be distorted by the Obama campaign.
The Obama camp has been hammering Romney for his offshore holdings and for paying a tax rate on investment income much lower than the salary-based rates that most Americans must pay.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on the ABC News show “This Week” on Sunday that Reid was a “dirty liar” because of his claims about Romney’s taxes.
Romney has demanded that the top Democrat reveal his source.