Both sides press Romney on tax returns

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Some Republicans are actually agreeing with the Obama campaign on one issue: the need for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns.

But the motivations on the opposing sides are quite different.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Obama campaign is beginning the week on the offensive, driving the conversation about Romney's business practices and financial records - and keeping it off the economy.

The campaign has a tough new ad on Romney's business career, and White House allies have been all over TV, demanding that Romney release more than two years of his income tax records.

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"The Romney campaign isn't stupid," Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel said on "ABC This Week" Sunday. "They have decided it is better to get attacked on lack of transparency, lack of accountability to the American people versus telling you what's in those taxes."

Now, Republicans have joined the chorus of Democrats calling on Romney to release more tax returns.

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"He should release the tax returns tomorrow. It's crazy," The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol asserted on "Fox News Sunday." "You gotta release six, eight, 10 years of back tax returns. Take the hit for a day or two."

"There's obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, 'Have at it,"' observed ABC News Political Analyst and former George W. Bush political strategist Matthew Dowd on "ABC This Week."

Republicans want Romney to disclose more tax records in order to make the issue to go away.

Democrats have a different motive: They want to talk about whatever loopholes Romney may have used to lessen his tax burden.

Romney financial documents already made public are providing ammunition for a new Obama campaign attack ad.

It slams Romney on outsourcing jobs and having offshore bank accounts, while the candidate sings "America the Beautiful" in the background.

As he does, text appears saying, "In business, Mitt Romney's firms shipped jobs to Mexico. And China. As governor, Romney outsourced jobs to India. He had millions in a Swiss bank account. Tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem."

Republicans want Romney off the defensive and refocused on what they believe is the president's biggest vulnerability - the economy.

It's a weakness Mr. Obama acknowledged during an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on the CBS News broadcast "Sunday Morning."

"Let's look at your management of the economy," Rose suggested.

"Exactly," the president replied.

"Yes, it was a bad hand you were dealt, but you have not made it to what it ought to be," Rose suggested.

"Right," Mr. Obama agreed.

"That is the centrality of their campaign," Rose continued.

"Exactly," the president said. "That is his argument, and you don't hear me complaining about him making that argument, because if I was in his shoes, I'd be making the same argument."

But the argument Mr. Obama will be making, as his campaign continues to attack his opponent, is that he needs four more years to do what he hasn't been able to do so far.

He'll be out on the road four days this week, starting Monday in Cincinnati, where he'll say Romney's tax plan would create jobs -- overseas.

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent

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