Pressure mounts on Romney to release tax returns
Updated: 5:31 p.m. ET
(CBS News) Following another day of controversy surrounding Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, Democrats are stepping up pressure on the candidate to release a more extensive history of his past tax returns - which they argue could shed additional light on his history at Bain.
Romney has tried to distance himself from a handful of years in Bain's history, when the firm invested in a series of companies that expanded overseas, sometimes at the expense of American workers. The Romney campaign has said he left Bain in 1999, before much of that outsourcing took place.
But in light of a Thursday Boston Globe report showing new evidence that Romney remained formally in control of Bain through 2002, the Obama campaign is hammering him as responsible for Bain's actions during that window. The Romney campaign, however, says the candidate "had no input on investments or management of companies" after 1999.
"My understanding is the Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital and I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company, that you are responsible for what that company does," Mr. Obama said Friday in an interview with WJLA-ABC. "Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions."
Democrats argue that in light of ongoing questions about his tenure at Bain, Romney could and should release tax returns that might shed some light on his activities in those years.
In a Friday interview on NBC's "Today," former President Bill Clinton said he was "surprised" that Romney had only released a year's worth of his tax returns.
"I am a little surprised that he only released a year's worth of tax returns. That's kind of perplexed me," he said.
"That struck me as a little odd," Clinton added, contending that presidential candidates usually release "10 or 11 years" worth of their tax records.
President Obama has released 12 years' worth of his tax returns. But in the 2008 election, Republican contender John McCain released only two years' worth. He recently said in an interview on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that he thinks releasing that amount is "sufficient."
The Obama campaign acknowledged on Friday that it is "absolutely" pushing to get Romney to release his tax returns.
"Mitt Romney is the most secretive candidate we've seen since Richard Nixon. Mitt Romney provided John McCain 23 years worth of returns when he was being vetted for vice president but he's only shared with the American people one year worth of returns," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a Friday interview with Fox News.
"Either Mitt Romney misrepresented his tenure at Bain to the SEC or he misrepresented it to the voters of Massachusetts," LaBolt added. "If he released more documents, like further tax returns, we would know the extent of his involvement at Bain during this period. If he released board minutes, we'd know the extent of his involvement at Bain."
The Romney campaign continues to fight back over the allegations that Romney remained actively involved in Bain after 1999, releasing a web video suggesting Mr. Obama is using dishonest tactics to destroy Romney.
"Despite fact check after fact check, the Obama campaign continues spreading the same lies about Mitt Romney's business career," said Romney spokesperson Ryan Williams in a Friday press release. "Repeating the same false charges over and over doesn't make them true."
Democrats are not alone in suggesting that Romney should release more of his tax returns, however: Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who at one point considered running for president himself, said this week that if he were in Romney's place, he would release the returns.
"I would," he said. "But should it be an issue in the campaign? I don't think it amounts to diddly."