President Obama's re-election campaign is opening a new front against Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, arguing that the wealthy former investor is hiding the size and sources of his income and claiming that Romney may be avoiding "paying his fair share of taxes."
"Mitt Romney has asked Americans to elect him president based on his experience as a corporate buyout specialist," says Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in an E-mail to reporters. "Each week, new questions are raised about whether he took unusual steps to avoid paying his fair share in taxes." Messina cites a Washington Post report that Romney "has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings."
The goal of the Obama campaign is to pigeonhole Romney, a founder of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, as a rich elitist who is benefiting from the financial system in ways that are not available to everyday Americans.
Adds Messina: "Mitt Romney has put his personal financial assets in a black box and hid the key, attempting to play by a different set of rules than any candidate in recent history." The Obama aide says Romney provided 23 years worth of tax returns to the leaders of John McCain's Republican presidential campaign in 2008 so they could determine if he would make a good vice presidential choice. "He must meet that same standard now so that the American people may judge whether he would be a suitable president, and where there are any conflicts of interest that could cloud his judgment," Messina says. He cited questions raised by the Post about whether Romney has placed money is questionable "offshore" accounts or "in controversial companies."
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the Post that Romney has followed the reporting rules established by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, and the office has certified that his filing was proper. Saul says the Obama campaign is trying to distract voters from the president's failed record on the economy, such as the high unemployment rate and soaring gasoline prices.