(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Mitt Romney suggested Thursday for the first time that he would “probably” release his tax returns not only from 2011 but from previous years as well, but garnered boos from the crowd when he seemed to waver on the decision.
“When my taxes are complete for this year, and I know that if I’m the nominee, the president is going to want to insist that I show what my income was this last year, so when they’re completed this year in April, I will release my returns in April for this year, and probably for other years as well,” said Romney during a GOP debate in Charleston, S.C., sponsored by CNN.
But when pressed if he’d follow the path of his father, George Romney, who released 12 years of taxes during his 1967 presidential bid, arguing that there might be a “fluke” in just one year’s results, Romney responded, “Maybe.”
“I don’t know how many years I’ll release,” said Romney, as the crowd booed. Romney paused and smiled.
“I’ll release multiple years, I don’t know how many years,” said Romney. “But I’ll be happy to do that. I know there are some who are anxious to see if they can make it difficult for a campaign to be successful…I’m not going to apologize for being successful.”
Just two days ago Romney had said he would release only his 2011 returns.
“In prior races for president the tradition has been that the nominee releases his tax returns in tax season, in April,” said Romney. “And I know that if I’m the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year, and see what happened in the most recent year and what things are up to date and so they’ll want to see the tax returns that come out in April, so rather than sort of have multiple releases of tax returns, why, we’ll wait until the tax returns for the most recent year are completed, then release them.”
During the debate Thursday night, former Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that if Romney had nothing to hide, he wouldn’t wait to release his returns.
“He has to decide, if there’s nothing in there, why not release them, and if there is something in them, better to know now,” said Gingrich.
Sen. Rick Santorum said he didn’t think Romney’s returns are a “big deal.”
Romney went on to justify his delay in releasing his returns by suggesting that it would give Democrats fodder for attack.
“Because I want to make sure that I beat President Obama,” said Romney. “And when we release things drip by drip, the Democrats attack. I pay my full taxes, I’m honest with people, I pay a lot of taxes, I’ve been very successful, and when I have my taxes ready for this year, I’ll release them.”
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