Really? Mitt Romney released tax information last night and didn't immediately post it online, or make it available to be posted?
The Romney campaign leaked out portions of his tax returns to selected news outlets tonight....
And this on top of the fact that it was a limited release of information, which also suggests shame:
The release of his taxes is unlikely to satisfy Democrats, who said they will continue to push for more transparency -- particularly if Republicans select Romney to face Obama in November. Democratic strategist Paul Begala called on Romney to release 12 years of returns -- just as his father did when he ran for president in 1968.
"If you release one year, you can pretty it up," Begala said. "He's got to go back a dozen years and really show us -- or a lot of fair-minded people are going to conclude that he probably skated with paying less, or maybe even zero, for some of those years."
This is Romney's big problem, at least during GOP primary season. It's not that he's rich. It's not the he pays a lower tax rate than whoever prepared his taxes pays (and it's not that, under certain GOP tax proposals, he'll pay a lower rate than the people who clean his toilets pay). It's that he's embarrassed. Republicans want a proud class warrior fighting on the side of the rich. And, for the general election, I still say that swing voters are (depressingly) not very class-conscious, and would let him slide if he weren't furtive about his wealth.
Regarding last night's debate, I think Gingrich needs to keep making the rubes pump their fists to stay in the lead, and his fatigue and failure to land any blows means that Romney effectively won -- tie goes to the plodder. But I also think we got a sense of Romney's shame, as Charles Blow notes:
And Gingrich knows Romney's weakness. He squirms like a worm on a hook whenever someone points out his wealth.
In the middle of Romney's attack, Gingrich went right for it:
Gingrich: What's the gross revenue of Bain in the years you were associated with it? What's the gross revenue?"Very substantial" is just the kind of non-answer answer that makes people suspicious. It's not that he doesn't know, but that he doesn't want to tell.
Romney, stammering a bit: Very substantial. But I think it's irrelevant compared with the fact you were working for Freddie Mac.
Gingrich, to audible chuckles from the otherwise quiet crowd: Wait a minute. Very substantial?
The Washington Post report on the Romney tax release practically hands Romney a talking point:
The couple gave away $7 million in charitable contributions over the past two years, including at least $4.1 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints....
The Romneys sent somewhat less to Washington over that period, paying an estimated $6.2 million in federal income taxes.
Can't you imagine how a proud right-winger would use this in a GOP debate? "I'm not going to apologize for the fact that we give more money to charity than we give to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.!" C'mon, Mitt, this is easy!
I know, I know: Southern Bible-thumpers won't like the fact that Mitt gave so much to the Mormon church. Well, Southern Bible-thumpers used to be taught to distrust Catholics, and Mitt's two chief rivals are Catholic.
And yes, I know that Romney's tax rate is awfully low. But I don't think most Americans even know what their own tax rate is.
I still think a Mitt Romney with a swaggering personality could get away with a lot of what he's acknowledging with great reluctance. I got a Swiss bank account, tax shelters in the Caymans -- it sounds like rap lyric circa 1987. Just go for it, Mitt. Own it.