Life must be good at the Obama campaign's Chicago headquarters these days. They can sit back and idly watch as Republicans do their job for them. This is around the time that a presidential reelection campaign would begin zeroing in on the best strategy to use against their general election opponent, but the GOP field has already settled on the narrative against frontrunner Mitt Romney. Instead of a primary defined by Romney's dreaded authorship of Massachusetts's health mandate or his wavering stance on abortion, Romney's opponents have unloaded on his "vulture capitalism" and glee at handing out pink slips. The spotlight was directed on Romney's hesitance to release his tax returns at the debate earlier this week, and will surely be raised again tonight when the candidates gather in South Carolina.
Obama for America isn't taking the Republican implosion for granted though. In a conference call with reporters earlier today, campaign officials ripped into Mitt Romney as out of touch with the middle class, citing his bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. "We now understand why he doesn't want to release those tax returns," a campaign official said. "One, because he pays less taxes than most middle class Americans, and two because he has investments off the shores of the United States, in fact in the Cayman Islands."
Romney has ceded some ground to the criticism, and plans to release his 2011 tax return around tax day in April. "The standard practice in presidential campaigns is not to release one year," the official said, "it is to release multiple years so the American people can get a full view of who you are, what you stand for, and how you made your money… He may be preparing to release his 2011 tax returns in April, [but] the question is, what is he doing to scrub them so that people don't see where his investments are?"
Millionaires have become par for the course among our political class, so another rich white guy running for president isn't anything new. But Romney's extensive wealth—perhaps as much as a quarter of a billion dollars—far outpaces most past presidential candidates. Most voters will already cast a skeptical eye on Romney's wealth given the general lack of understanding on how exactly private equity works. If the Obama campaign continues to hammer the point during the general election, Romney will need to release a full set of records or risk appearing like he has something to hide.