Elections 2012: Mitt Romney to Release Tax Return Tuesday After South Carolina Loss

Humbled by a stunning loss in South Carolina, Mitt Romney said on Sunday he would release this week the tax returns demanded by rivals as he bids to regain the upper hand in the volatile Republican presidential rac

Mitt Romney caved in to demands for the release of his tax returns on Sunday as he scrambled to recover from a thrashing by Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina presidential primary. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Last week, Romney told reporters he would release his tax returns in April and estimated his actual tax rate was close to 15% — the amount charged for capital gains income — because most of his income was from investments.

On Sunday, he acknowledged that strategy didn’t work in response to reporters and rival candidates questioning when Romney – a multimillionaire – would make public his tax details, reports CNN.

“We made a mistake holding off as long as we did and it just was a distraction,” Romney said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ “I was planning on releasing them in April when they’ve been released by other candidates in the past,” he said.

“But you know what, given all the attention that has been focused on tax returns, given the distraction that I think they became in the last couple of weeks … I will release my tax returns for 2010, which is the last returns that were completed,” Romney said.

Romney said the returns would be on the Internet and emphasized he was releasing two years of returns after Gingrich posted 2010 taxes on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Gingrich, who has raised the issue repeatedly, commended Romney when told during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of the announcement.

“I think it’s exactly the right thing to do,” Gingrich said. “And as far as I’m concerned, that particular issue is now set aside and we can go on and talk about other, bigger, and more important things.”

There have been three nominating contests so far and Gingrich, Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum have each won one.

A victory in Florida’s primary on January 31 would restore Romney’s luster after South Carolina, and a Gingrich win would solidify him as a serious challenger to the former business executive. A protracted and poisonous Republican battle, in turn, could be a boon to Obama’s re-election bid.

Mr Romney holds an 11-point lead in Florida opinion polls, according to an average by RealClearPolitics. His vastly superior finances – having raised $56.6 million in 2011 compared to Mr Gingrich’s $11.9 million – will allow him to launch an overwhelming media campaign.

He is also on the Republican ballot in every state, while Mr Gingrich did not qualify in Virginia, reports The Telegraph.

After mounting one of the most remarkable comebacks in US presidential election history, Mr Gingrich, who won 41 per cent of the vote in South Carolina, on Sunday set the stage for a vicious, protracted contest between a “Reagan populist conservative” and an “establishment candidate” favoured by the “elites of Washington and New York”.

“I think Floridians would like somebody who speaks for them to Washington, not somebody who speaks for the establishment to them,” Mr Gingrich told a television interview.

“I don’t think that the people of this country are going to choose as the next president of the United States a person who spent 40 years in Washington as a congressman and a lobbyist,” Romney said on Fox, adding that Gingrich “is not ideally suited to face off against the president.”

He said that Gingrich proved to be a “failed leader” during his four years in the 1990s as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming he resigned “in disgrace.” Romney noted that a vast majority of GOP representatives joined Democrats in reprimanding Gingrich after he was ordered to pay $300,000 following an ethics probe.

Romney could get some help from Santorum, who is competing with Gingrich to be the conservative alternative to Romney.

“It’s a choice between a moderate and an erratic conservative – someone who on a lot of the major issues has been just wrong,” Santorum told ABC’s “This Week” program, saying Gingrich was out of step with many Republicans on Wall Street bailouts, health policy, immigration and global warming. “I think he’s a very high-risk candidate.

Gingrich, who refers to Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate,” said having his rival’s taxes on the table would at least put an end to that part of the campaign narrative.

“As far as I’m concerned, that particular issue is now set aside and we can go on and talk about other bigger and more important things,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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