New Obama TV Ad Hammers Romney on Release of Taxes

BY Christina Bellantoni  July 17, 2012 at 9:04 AM EST

President Obama; photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama campaigns in Cincinnati on Monday. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

The Obama campaign is welcoming Mitt Romney to Pennsylvania on Tuesday with a new television ad that keeps up the drumbeat over the presumptive GOP nominee’s taxes.

The ad accuses Romney of using “every trick in the book,” including tax havens, offshore accounts and carried interest, and notes that Romney paid less than 15 percent in taxes on more than $43 million in income the last two years.

The narrator then says: “Makes you wonder if some years he paid any taxes at all.”

Watch the ad here or below.

The Obama team’s effort goes straight to the heart of the challenge facing Romney on the handling of his tax returns. During the GOP primary he said he would not release his returns, but he ultimately backed off that stance and put forward his 2010 documents and estimates for 2011.

The issue of Romney’s taxes, along with his record as a corporate investor at Bain Capital, have been used by the Obama campaign as part of a two-pronged attack on the former Massachusetts governor to undermine his standing with middle-class voters, many of whom have faced serious financial struggles during the last few years.

Democrats aren’t the only ones calling on Romney to release additional years of tax records. His refusal to disclose more information has resulted in “friendly fire” from conservatives such as Haley Barbour, Bill Kristol and George Will.

Given the growing chorus calling for the release of additional tax returns, Romney will have to decide if the political risk of holding onto those documents — and leaving questions about his finances unanswered — is outweighed by whatever potential damage might be caused by putting his information out there for the world to see.

Accenting Romney’s visit to Pennsylvania is a story from Ralph Z. Hallow in the Washington Times noting that some conservatives are frustrated his campaign is not trying to exploit the GOP’s control of the state to change how it awards its electors. Hallow writes:

The Washington Times has learned that the Romney campaign decided not to ask Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, and the GOP majorities in the Senate and House to adopt the new method. The Romney campaign told state Republicans that it did not want to open itself up to Democratic claims that it was trying to rig the election, even though Nebraska and Maine also divide Electoral College votes by congressional district.

Mr. Corbett and GOP lawmakers were skittish after Obama forces privately threatened to open the campaign cash faucets in a push to defeat half of the state’s Republican lawmakers if they agreed to change the voting system.

CBS News looked at the president’s path in Pennyslvania and offered analysis that he can’t just rack up high margins in Philadelphia. Voters in the state are more skeptical this time around, which is one reason it is Ground Zero for Republicans.

It’s nearly impossible to see Romney’s path to 270 Electoral College votes without the Keystone State. Play around with the scenarios yourself in our Vote 2012 Map Center.

THE CASH GAME

The NewsHour took a look Monday night at how each side is raising money.

Ray Suarez talked with ProPublica managing editor Stephen Engelberg about GOP mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Engelberg co-wrote an investigative piece Monday suggesting that Adelson may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying a Macau lawyer hundreds of thousands of dollars, all in a bid to get approval for his projects in Macau, a special administrative region in China.

Watch the conversation here or below.

NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reported from San Francisco about the fundraising boomlet the president’s campaign has experienced since he endorsed gay marriage.

Watch his piece here or below.

Spencer also looked at changing attitudes toward gay marriage in the 30 years since he covered his first pride rally in San Francisco. Intern William Harless compared San Francisco’s pride movement with Nashville’s.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg has a front page piece about Mormon families rallying for Romney.

  • The Chicago Tribune on Alex Okrent’s life and his memorial service attended by hundreds of Obama campaign staffers.

  • The president is “weaning” himself off the teleprompter, Amie Parnes writes in The Hill.

  • After this nasty campaign, can anyone actually govern this country in 2013? Stuart Rothenberg explores that question in his latest Roll Call column.

  • The Washington Post breaks down singing candidates.

  • The Hill’s Russell Berman reports former President George H.W. Bush will not attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer because of health problems.

  • Mr. Obama weighed in Monday on two key national debates, telling a town hall in Cincinnati that his favorite Girl Scout cookie is the Thin Mint and declaring the 1992 Dream Team that featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird better than the current U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team that stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

  • The president and first lady had a pair of “Kiss Cam” moments during Monday night’s game between the U.S. and Brazilian men’s basketball teams at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

  • Elizabeth Summers (@elizsummers), Alex Bruns (@abbruns) and Hari Sreenivasan (@hari) are on the road in Nevada for a presidential politics story. Follow them!

VEEPSTAKES

  • Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters Monday “no decision” had been made on a vice presidential pick.

  • Christina took an informal poll of Obama campaign operatives and volunteers, who put former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman at the top of the list.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake sorts through the winners and losers of second-quarter fundraising for House and Senate candidates.

  • Senate Republicans on Monday blocked a Democratic-backed measure that would require campaign groups to more fully disclose campaign contributions from moving forward.

  • David Brody sat down with Arizona Repubican Gov. Jan Brewer for an interview.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted a guerilla-style web video going after Republican House members after the health care repeal vote.

  • USA Today’s Kelly Kennedy and Richard Wolf break down the numbers of who will pay more under the health care law.

  • The NewsHour reports on climate change threatening the Quileute tribe of “Twilight” fame in Washington state.

  • The Top 7 tweeters disrupting regimes.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney holds a rally in Irwin, Pa., at 1:20 p.m.

  • President Obama campaigns in Texas with stops in San Antonio at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and events in Austin at 6:50 p.m. and 8:55 p.m.

  • Vice President Joe Biden meets with a delegation of Australian leaders at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., at 3 p.m. He also attends an event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in New York City at 6 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.