Ann Romney gets her say Thursday night about the increasingly urgent — or from her perspective, unreasonable — demands for the release of her family’s tax returns.
After briefly dropping off the political radar, questions that have dogged presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney are back: How much has he paid over the last decade in federal taxes? Will he prove it by releasing more than two years of returns?
On the trail Thursday, The Times’ Michael Finnegan reported that Romney swatted down the accusation (as advanced and re-advanced by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid) that he has not paid his fair share. He said his federal tax rate has never dropped below 13% for each of the last 10 years. “And if you add, in addition, the amount that goes to charity,” Romney told reporters, “why the number gets well above 20%.”
Ann Romney’s irritation was apparent in an interview with NBC that took place during a break in the Olympics in Wales, her ancestral home. (Her horse, Rafalca, and trainer, Jan Ebeling, competed for the U.S. Equestrian team in dressage. They did not medal.)
The interview, by correspondent Natalie Morales, is part of a profile of the would-be first lady that will air on Thursday’s edition of “Rock Center With Brian Williams” at 10 p.m. PDT.
Sitting at a table in a cozy pub in Llangynwd in southern Wales’ coal country with a pot of tea and bone china cups between them, Romney’s feelings broke the surface when Morales raised the issue of the Romney tax returns.
“I know it’s not a question that is welcomed, but must be asked,” Morales said. “Why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011?”
Romney was pleasant but fierce: “Have you seen how we’re attacked? Have you seen what’s happened?”
“Are you angry that it’s been in the press?” Morales asked. “I mean should you not be questioned about your finances?”
“We have been transparent to what’s legally required of us,” Romney said. “But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questions, the more we get pushed. We have done what’s legally required, and there’s going to be no more tax releases given. And there’s a reason for that. And that’s because of … what happens as soon as we release anything. Mitt’s financial disclosures when he was governor were huge.
“The other thing you have to understand is that Mitt is honest, his integrity is, is just golden. We pay our taxes .... Beyond paying our taxes, we also give 10% of our income to charity. So we have no issues that way, and the only reason we don’t disclose any more is, you know, we just become a bigger target.”
Morales: “So it’s because you will just continue to face more questions?”
“Well, it will just give them more ammunition,” Romney replied.
Morales: “To the American people though, when they hear about perhaps accounts with your name on it overseas, and tax shelters, they feel like you may be hiding something.”
“There’s nothing we’re hiding,” Romney said. “We’ve had a blind trust for, how many years? We don’t even know what’s in there. We’ve had a blind trust since before Mitt was governor, you know, 2002 forward. And so you know, I’ll be curious to see what’s in there, too.”