Early today, Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina released a letter asking that Mitt Romney release only “five years of returns” offering the assurance that if he does so, he commits “in turn that we will not criticize him for not releasing more–neither in ads nor in other public communications or commentary for the rest of the campaign“:
To provide these five years, the Governor would have to release only three more sets of returns in addition to the 2010 return he has released and the 2011 return he has pledged to provide. And, I repeat, the Governor and his campaign can expect in return that we will refrain from questioning whether he has released enough or pressing for more.
What the Democrat doesn’t commit to is refraining from using the returns to attack the presumptive Republican nominee, leading Erika Johnsen (one of the bloggers who alerted me to the story) to conclude that
Wow… Team Obama really wants those tax returns. Whether they believe there’s actually something really damning in them (which I highly doubt), or because they know thatwhatever’s in them they’ll be able to twist into more cheap, populist, class-warmongering appeals (which I highly suspect), they are really hankering for more fodder for their distraction machine.
Read the whole thing. To be sure, the Obama campaign is trying to make it sound like they’re the reasonable ones here, scaling back their demands for more tax returns. But, Johnsen gets it, what they’re really showing is just how desperate they are to get those returns. They just want Romney to help them out in providing fodder for their distraction machine, a shiny object to dangle in front of reporters to keep their political opponent on defense.
ADDENDUM: The Obama campaign has made clear they intend to use the issue of Romney’s tax returns to attack the presumptive Republican nominee.