Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was passed over for the vice presidential slot by presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Now Pawlenty is indicating that Romney may have higher standards for his running mate than he does for himself.
On “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Pawlenty said that he gave Romney “a bunch” of tax returns as part of the vetting process for the second spot on the GOP ticket.
“I don’t remember the exact number,” Pawlenty told Stephanopoulos. “It was several years, I believe.”
Stephanopoulos asked Pawlenty if it was more than two years — the number of tax returns Romney has said he will disclose to the public — and Pawlenty declined to be specific.
“Well, we don’t get into the details of the vetting process,” Pawlenty said. “But I gave him a bunch of tax returns. I don’t remember the exact number of years.”
Romney has been under fire from the Obama campaign and several Republicans for his refusal to release more than a partial 2010 tax return and a promise to release 2011 returns later in the fall. Romney has steadfastly refused to release more than two years’ worth of returns, making Pawlenty’s statement all the more damaging.
While there is no law requiring Romney to release returns to the public while seeking office, the pressure on Romney to disclose his finances has been intense, and has been a centerpiece of the Obama campaign’s attacks on the former Massachusetts governor. Thanks to Pawlenty, those attacks are now likely to intensify, and the question of Mitt Romney’s tax returns — one he hoped to permanently shelve with the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate — will continue to dog Romney throughout the fall.
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