Appearing on Wednesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza warned Mitt Romney that he would suffer "a death by a thousand political cuts" if he does not release more tax returns. Cillizza further proclaimed: "...every day we talk about tax returns. Why hasn't he released them? What's in them?...the current position he has is untenable politically."
Continuing to push for Romney to release more, Cillizza predicted: "...what we don't know is how much tax he did pay. And until he releases more...the Obama team, at least, is not going to let this go away." He then concluded: "...all this stuff gets them [Republicans] away from talking about what they want to talk about, which is why I think he [Romney] needs to lance the boil, politically, sooner rather than later."
Host Andrea Mitchell opened the discussion by happily touting: "...the Romney offensive still hasn't quieted a growing chorus of Republicans calling on Romney to release his tax returns." After reading several excerpts from a National Review editorial demanding more Romney tax information, Mitchell declared: "...we're talking about...a conservative magazine, just piercingly tearing through the Romney campaign point-by-point defense of them not releasing more tax returns."
How many National Review articles critical of President Obama does Mitchell read on air?
Here is a transcript of the July 18 exchange:
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good day, I'm Andrea Mitchell, live in New York today. In our Daily Fix, the Romney campaign is escalating its attacks on President Obama with a new ad, and in Ohio, where the candidate will be campaigning later today. But the Romney offensive still hasn't quieted a growing chorus of Republicans calling on Romney to release his tax returns.
Chris Cillizza is an MSNBC contributor and managing editor of PostPolitics.com, Mr. Fix. Well, this whole tax return issue is not going away. Mitt Romney has tried to change the subject but we are seeing increasingly conservative calls. Let's take a look at the National Review, Chris. The National Review editorial said release the returns and it went on to say, "John Kerry actually released returns from 1999 through 2003 and also released tax returns during his Senate runs. As for Theresa Hines," that's an issue that Romney had raised, "Romney isn't the wealthy spouse of a candidate but the candidate himself. In 2008, John McCain released two years of returns, but he had been filling out financial disclosure forms for decades, every year as a senator."
So we're talking about, you know, the National Review, a conservative magazine, just piercingly tearing through the Romney campaign point-by-point defense of them not releasing more tax returns. They also said, "In all likelihood he won't be able to maintain a position that looks secretive and is a departure from campaign conventions. The only question is whether he releases more returns now or later." Chris, will it be now, later or never?
CILLIZZA: Well, I think they're right, Andrea. It just seems to me this is setting up Romney for a death by a thousand political cuts, which is every day we talk about tax returns. Why hasn't he released them? What's in them? You know, what's keeping him from releasing them? I just think I agree with the National Review here. I just think that the current position he has is untenable politically.
Legally, he's fine. We know Mitt Romney didn't break any laws. We know all those things. But what we don't know is how much tax he did pay. And until he releases more – now, depends on how you define more, I don't think he's going to release 20 years' worth, but something that provides a fuller picture of his financial background – the Obama team, at least, is not going to let this go away.
And I would say that most Republicans I talk to, here's what they say, Andrea, "Look, this is an election still about the economy. We need to get back to talking about the economy and what they believe to be Barack Obama's poor performance in making the economy better. The longer we spend talking about how much tax Mitt Romney paid, when he paid it, how wealthy he is, the Cayman Islands, Swiss bank accounts" – all this stuff gets them away from talking about what they want to talk about, which is why I think he needs to lance the boil, politically, sooner rather than later.