cannot compute will not compute

Romney Short-Circuits Over Debate’s Tax Return Questions

this is my cherub face

In Thursday’s debate in South Carolina, the one where Gingrich soared, Romney stuttered, Paul sniggered and Santorum … was also there … moderator John King prodded the gentlemen with questions on tax returns, a segment that greatly overshadowed any attempt to remind people that Gingrich isn’t good at monogamy. King’s express interest was in trying to get Romney to either a) be bold, like his father, and release a decade or so of tax returns, b) self-destruct, or c) somehow get carried to safety by the little flapping wings of supportive South Carolinian audience members. The fun part was the contrasts that ended up getting drawn between Romney the barely-taxpayer and everybody else who pays taxes. Ron Paul said the main reason he wasn’t releasing his returns is because he’d be “embarrassed” by how little income he makes. “No one’s challenging me because I have no conflict of interest,” Paul said. Touuuuuch√©.

Watch:

When it came Romney’s turn, the candidate said: “If I’m the nominee the President is going to want to insist that I show what my income was this last year and so forth.”

This last year and so forth? DUDE. As he rambled on, however, he eventually said he would “maybe” release more years than just one. But Romney’s bridezilla-like feeling that everything will go exactly as planned if he remains continually in control still shone through last night. Unfortunately, while trying to maintain control, his server overloaded.

“I’ll put these out at one time,” he said, “so we have one discussion of all of this.” Unfortunately for him, the discussion has been going on all week, and it won’t end until he releases at least a half-dozen of the damn things. If you’re a rich man running for the presidency, unfortunately how you spend your money is one of the best indications of who you are.

Gingrich, who released his returns last night, was asked what he thought of Romney’s answer, and once again he came off like the only candidate with half a brain. Romney can do whatever he wants, he said,

But if there’s anything in there that’s going to help us lose the election, we should know it before the nomination, and if there’s nothing in there, why not release it? It’s a very simple model.

This was just one of a couple of instances in which the debate tackled the tax return question, and in the second instance, when John King reminded Romney that his father George released 12 years worth of tax returns when he ran for president in 1967, Romney didn’t do so well. In fact, he looked alarmed even when the only words out of King’s mouth were “back in 1967,” like, “Oh, crap, what happened in 1967?” (See figure 1 for the expression.)

Romney’s argument here was that releasing his tax returns would just make it easier for the Obama campaign to destroy him, and we don’t want that, South Carolina, do we? But that argument falls flat (even generating some boos), because if you’re not confident that you can actually come out the other side of a political campaign, if you’re not willing to put all your cards on the table, why even run? Why fool millions of Americans into thinking that you’re the best candidate to tackle the President? [CNN/Talking Points Memo]

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Liz is a writer. She has written for this site, evidently, and also The Awl, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Economist and others. She is the author of a short story collection, Cover Story.

View all articles by Liz Colville

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206 comments

      1. tealsheart

        Yeap, cause just like people, they want to be paid

        I bet religion related $$ is at the the center of all this avoidance. I trust the GOP to keep digging, as they in turn have their own god-agenda$ to protect.

        1. Jukesgrrl

          Maybe he DOESN'T tithe 10% like all the good Mormons do and he's afraid of even losing THAT vote. According to the census, 2009 median household income in Utah was $55,183. Giving away 10% of that would be a sacrifice for a family. Hilarity will ensue when they find out Mittens contributes less than even Donnie Osmond gives.

  1. nounverb911

    "that releasing his tax returns would just make it easier for the Obama campaign to destroy him"
    And not releasing them will make it easier for everyone else to destroy him.

    1. jus_wonderin

      I wonder. How many months do we have to work before we have paid Mitt's taxes? Isn't it usually 4 months or so???

  2. MrFizzy

    Just because he makes more money on investments than the whole population of South Carolina doesn't mean people shouldn't vote for him. He's a rainmaker. Golden showers for the poors to be exact.

    1. tealsheart

      Come on, that's almost full capacity, the republicans only have one multi-purpose answer, (I mean EXCUSE): It's Obama's Fault

  3. SexySmurf

    Ron Paul said the main reason he wasn’t releasing his returns is because he’d be “embarrassed” by how little income he makes.

    And that's why everybody should invest in gold.

      1. GOPCrusher

        You would thing that a real NWO Warrior such as Ron Paul would live by his convictions and refuse to pay his taxes.

    1. tealsheart

      Yeah, like I'm embarrassed that he's running for the office.
      I still wanna see 'em. Might change my thinking

  4. EatsBabyDingos

    As Romney limps into South Carolina, maybe he could invoke St Ronnie with a slogan like "Win one for the Gimper."

  5. Joshua Norton

    "that releasing his tax returns would just make it easier for the Obama campaign to destroy him"

    Sounds more like he's afraid of an extended stay in the the Leona Helmsley Memorial Suite at his local federal prison.

    1. Biff

      I keep saying his worst nightmare is when the presidency of the LDS church finds out he's been skimping on his tithes, for which there is a convenient line on the Form 1040.

  6. edgydrifter

    Volatile narcissist
    Money-fueled tin man
    Creepy guy in a vest
    Emperor of Pautardia

    Pick one, America. Go on.

  7. Tundra Grifter

    Mittens has basically been running for President for six or seven years.

    And this is the best he got? Nobody around him had the guts to bring this up before?

    I listen to him attempt to answer a question and I ask myself, "How did this guy ever propose to his wife?" It must have taken all night to just get it out.

    1. Banelm

      Despite preparing for this campaign for most of the decade, it never occurred to him to take his money out of whatever shady tax dodges he's been using. He never expected anyone to seriously question him. Does that make him the dumbest man on the stage? Tough call, but maybe?

    2. Chet Kincaid

      In his defense (my God, am I actually typing that?), Mitt didn't know 6 or 7 years ago that the American people would begin to get a fucking clue about how people like him have been screwingg them over, instead of slavishly drooling at and attaboying over his lavish lifestyle. However, Mitt SHOULD have known by 2009.

    3. Negropolis

      I can not imagine this hasn't been an issue. It was an issue the last time he ran. This is purely the fault of the candidate. I think more than anything else, this shows a personal flaw of his and that is his stubborness. It's displayed differently than the obstructionist tendencies of other GOP politicians, but it's just as much stubborness than anything else.

  8. WunkRocker

    The Baptists of South Cakalakistan aint voting for no Moranmon. Untwist your majik underoos and show your tax returns AND your birf citeficakate.

    1. Negropolis

      They are going through a moral dilemna, no doubt. They have their pick between two Catholics, a Mormon, and a crazy uncle who is not their brand and flavor of crazy.

  9. EatsBabyDingos

    I had a dream where Mitt stood up at the debates and said "My name is Elmer J. Fudd, Millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht." Then, he put on a bunny costume, and Newt ate him. This confused me, because I thought amphibians didn't eat meat. What does it all mean?

    1. oldmayfly

      Amphibians eat meat–frogs eat bugs. It is the Elmer Fudd part of your dream I don't understand. I thought Mitt was Uncle Scrooge McDuck.

    1. ttommyunger

      Not the media, just "Newt the Younger" Chuckles Todd, up and coming young word-meister and turd-wrestler extraordinaire.

  10. Goonemeritus

    Remember the days when we progressives would sit around in our communist coffee shops swilling Yerba mate tea in honor of Che Guevara. Oh how we would argue who would be the most formidable Republican candidate against Obama.

    1. Nothingisamiss

      Those were thr days, my friend. Since few of us believe in luck, we're left wondering how O and friends could possibly fuck this up.

  11. Not_So_Much

    I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a… fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a MittBot 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1947. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you….

    1. MissTaken

      Newt, Newt, give me your answer, do,
      I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
      It won't be a stylish marriage –
      I can't afford a carriage,
      But you'd look sweet on the seat
      Of a bicycle built for two.

      1. ShaveTheWhales

        Newt, Newt, give me your answer, do,
        I'm half crazy all for the love of you.
        It won't be a stylish marriage –
        I can't afford a carriage,
        But you'd look sweet on the seat both seats
        Of a bicycle built for two.

  12. Mumbletypeg

    “I’ll put these out at one time,” he said, “so we have one discussion of all of this.”

    Quality, Mitts, not quantity. Gawd knows how many of those holding office in this bungled excuse of a democratic union, are millionaires and more-than.. You're not so unique in your ilk's perception that prestige can be bought. It's how you occasionally feign the down-home, unbuttoned-collar/ "just-one-of-you-guys" vamping as if it will obscure the fact you're out to buy up all the prestige you think it necessary to be Presidential.

  13. BaldarTFlagass

    I guess Mitt's part of that 47% of the population that the Repubs are always going on about how they don't pay any taxes.

    1. flamingpdog

      BINGO! With that look of terror in his eyes every time the question comes up, that has to be the answer.

    2. Nothingisamiss

      I can't wait til the fuckheads at work tell me that Mitt has paid more money in taxes in the last 10 years than I'll pay in my entire life…so it's all fair. He shouldn't HAVE to pay more, I'm the parasite for paying 30%.

  14. WhatTheHeck

    I'm guessing he doesn’t go to H&R Block to get his taxes done as he might have one or two deductions more than the average guy.

    1. Tundra Grifter

      actor212:

      It's called a stump speech because everytime Mittens is asked a question it appears he's stump'd.

  15. prommie

    There is major dischord between the owners of the Republican Party and the members of the republican party. Owners want Romney, TeaTards want anyone but. Newt speaks better teatard than Romney (Add Racism to Reesentment, stir rapidly, whip into a froth)

    1. SorosBot

      If it wasn't for the teatards, the Republicans would have won the Senate with victories in Delaware and Nevada they turned into defeats; hopefully they can repeat that fiasco.

  16. chicken_thief

    The juxtaposition between Mittens almost stumbling into "I'll have my people check into it" and Sant Rum oozing on about figuring out Turbo Tax was priceless.

    1. snackypants

      I feel like Santorum should know he can store his documents on the cloud, so he can access them from anywhere.

  17. SudsMcKenzie

    So Mitts embarrassed by some of the things on his tax return like I'm embarrassed by some of the things on my credit card bills.

  18. kissawookiee

    Mittens is just like his father (too bold)
    Gingrich is just like his mother (she's never satisfied)

    …and this is what it sounds like when democracy cries.

  19. actor212

    But if there’s anything in there that’s going to help us lose the election, we should know it before the nomination, and if there’s nothing in there, why not release it? It’s a very simple model.

    And if you're not a terrorist, you should have no problem with cavity searches at the airport.

    1. jus_wonderin

      I think we shouldn't be so hard on Mitt regarding this tax thing. I mean, I usually have to wait for my W2 and any 1099's to come in before I can figure out my taxes.

  20. zappadoo76

    If you’re not willing to put all your cards on the table, why even run? Why fool millions of Americans into thinking that you’re the best candidate to tackle the President?

    Someone should ask John Edwards this question, at his trial.

    1. Redhead

      Someone should ask Newt the next time he whines about his many affairs and open marriages and such being no one's business.

  21. UpstateYorkee

    Mittens is just trying to hide the fact THAT HE WAS BORN IN THE CAYMAN's. Where's the bird certificate Mitt? Or should I call you WILLARD?

  22. Barb

    Palin tweeted of Rick Perry:
    Rick Perry reflects the character of his great state: strong, tenacious, big heart. Good job, Governor. You are a true American patriot.

    Isn't Texas the state that she bolted from, amniotic fluid leaking over 8 states, in 2 different planes so that she wouldn't give birth in Texas?

    I think Sarah is against Mitt because he isn't a Christian and she's for Newt because she thinks there is a high level position for her if she does back Newt.

    1. DahBoner

      When I was in Tex-ass, there was a story in the paper where a woman put Texas soil in a baggie under her butt, when she gave birth in Chicago, so she could say her baby was born on Tex-ass soil…

    2. freakishlywrong

      Isn't Texas the state that she bolted from, amniotic fluid leaking over 8 states, in 2 different planes so that she wouldn't give birth in Texas?
      I can't stop laughing at this. I keep coming back to it and laughing my ass off and thinking: "It's fucking Texas, Barb, wouldn't you?"

    3. elviouslyqueer

      she's for Newt because she thinks there is a high level position for her if she does back Newt

      I'm not sure Congress would approve of Newt creating the office of "Procurator in Chief" or "Lead Concubine."

  23. thefrontpage

    Elitist Media, which publishes Elite, Elitist and Cinema Elite magazines, has obtained copies of Romney's speaking schedule for 2010, and it's very interesting Here's a partial list of some of the groups that Romney spoke to in 2010, receiving an average of about $15,000 per speaking appearance:

    1. The Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender and Bestiality Annual Convention, Key West, Va.

    2. The Adult Film Industry Association's Annual Convention, Las Vegas

    3. The Adult Magazine Industry Association's Annual Convention, Los Angeles

    4. Flynt Publishing Annual Meeting, Los Angeles

    5. Playboy Enterprises Annual Staff Meeting and Pool Party, Playboy Mansion, Los Angeles

    6. Jugs Magazine Hoe-Down, Peoria

    7. The Chicken Ranch Annual Halloween Party, Clark County, Nevada

    8. The Adult Sex Toy Industry Annual Convention, New York City

    9. Jenna Jamison's Jammin' Jamboree, Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

    10. Ron Jeremy's Annual Christmas Party, Los Angeles.

    —Copywright, Elite Media, Elitetown, Orange County, California.

    1. Mojopo

      I know the Mormons love to invest in casinos, so I guess I'm really not surprised at this speaking schedule. They have few problems with making money on our vices.

    2. GOPCrusher

      I think your information is inaccurate. I was at the Juggs Magazine Hoe-Down in Peoria.
      Mitt Romney did not speak there. Either that or he makes one hell of a good Gallagher impersonator.

      1. thefrontpage

        This speaking list is not from me, but from Elitist Media and its subsidiary, Elite Media, which publishes Elitist, Elite and Cinema Elite magazines. They're located in Elitetown, Orange County, California.

  24. mrblifil

    So Newt released his returns eh? That should be interesting given how he seems not to have held a job for a decade or so. Any word on whether his line at Tiffany's is still good?

  25. C_R_Eature

    The Cognition Lingusitic Interpolator Program has encountered an unexpected fault and will close. The Mittbot 9000 OS is searching for a solution to this problem.

    Do you wish to send an Error Report to Murdochsoft?

  26. philpjfry

    What I don't get is, didn't mittens think he would be asked about his tax returns? Is this really a surprise to him? dumb ass

    1. tealsheart

      These moFos don't care, they offer up another excuse and pretend it not really a big deal. After all, they are Average-everyFuckingDay-Americans.

    2. Jukesgrrl

      Seriously. If I ran for Tucson City Council I'd assume there would be interest in taxes I've paid, my voting record, and any "help" I've hired. I also expect somebody would call the FBI to get their spy file on me. How could anyone possibly expect to run for president these days and think they can hide their sex life, let alone what they pay in taxes.

    1. chicken_thief

      A spokesman for the Romney camp vehemently denies this allegation noting that Mitt never met Huntsman until the spring of 2007.

  27. Ruhe

    "But that argument falls flat (even generating some boos), because if you’re not confident that you can actually come out the other side of a political campaign, if you’re not willing to put all your cards on the table, why even run? Why fool millions of Americans into thinking that you’re the best candidate to tackle the President?"

    I don't know! Ask John Edwards! He seemed to have a plan for dealing with that sort of thing.

  28. Fare la Volpe

    Mittbot was so angry at its performance that it came home and killed Etta James.

    It has violated the Laws of Robotics – flee, children! Flee!

  29. prommie

    Will his tax returns show that he is a good Mormon, or a bad Mormon? Is he tithing, or is he not? Either way, there is no upside. The returns will either show that he gives 10 times the US average annual income to the wacky space alien mormon church, or that he doesn't abide by the tithing rule of his own church, bad either way!

    1. elviouslyqueer

      Furthermore, I am appalled that you would ask something like this during the Presidential debate.

  30. tealsheart

    On stage looks like: The Younger Crazy Taller Republicans -vs- The Olders Crazy Shorter Republicans.

  31. Generation[redacted]

    Okay, Republicans have set the ground rules for a Presidential election: Tax returns are off-limits. Marital infidelity is off-limits. Birth certificate? Soon to be off limits as soon as a member of the horrible horrible liberal media asks a Republican for one.

    1. jus_wonderin

      If, if, ever I get the chance that is the first question I would ask of the R nominee. Seriously. I do think I am going to put up a website….asking it be shown.

  32. Callyson

    Ron Paul said the main reason he wasn’t releasing his returns is because he’d be “embarrassed” by how little income he makes.
    So much for the idea that he is campaigning as an "outsider"…

  33. prommie

    The line from Blazing Saddles was "You use your tongue purtier than a twenty-dollar whore." As the stupid person's idea of what a smart person is, Newt has the mouth-breathing pigfuckers entranced.

  34. MissTaken

    Weren't we sold on robots doing really awesome stuff like clean house, change burnt out lightbulbs, and answer the door for you when the Mormons come a -knockin'? This MittBot on the other hand is just a shitty boyfriend: leaves his dirty socks on the floor expecting you to pick them up and invites the Mormons in for some tea and cookies (that you baked) when you just want to watch Downton Abbey in peace.

    1. prommie

      People have misconceptions about robots, they always think of a multi-purpose, human looking thing. We are surrounded by robots, but they are special-purpose devices that only perform one function. A breadmachine is a robot, so is a modern dishwasher. The robotic rerplacement for the human male was perfected some time ago, it is sometimes called a "Rabbit" or "Magic Wand."

        1. Nothingisamiss

          So I'm confused. Does this mean Mitt is a dildo or not? Because dildos can be fun, but he certainly does not fall into this category.

          1. MissTaken

            I don't know if MittBot is a dildo or not and I'm not gonna let him near my ladybits to find out.

    2. SorosBot

      The Mittbot was built for one purpose and one only: to run for office. It doesn't care about your needs or the concerns of the ordinary people.

    1. io9k9s

      Only a quantum computer can help them now – maybe a republican plutobot scientist from the future is working on the Mitt problem as we speak…. Hmmm that creates a homeschool paradox – well Mittbot, your just SOL

  35. prommie

    Breaking News! Paultard Airship sighted in South Carolina, then cited by police for blocking traffic! Hilarity level reaching new highs in GOP Primary!

  36. WeHaveIssues

    The thing that sucks for rich people who run for President is that they have to pay attention to the little people when they ask for things. People they've ignored their whole lives. Once elected they can go back to ignoring the underlings again but there is that messy middle part to get through.

    Welcome to your messy wet dream Mitt.

  37. owhatever

    I am not releasing my tax returns because its none of your fuckin' business. OK? And if you recall, dear old Dad lost that election.

  38. io9k9s

    nah you all are wrong entirely,
    Mitt: wait oh no, i just did that..i just pooped during a national debate… Ughh get ahold of yourself Willard!! did anyone hear it? What would Father say – oh goodness, is Newt smelling it… Can I blame Ron Paul. uhh..Maybe.

  39. anniegetyerfun

    I'm actually one of the few people left in the world who doesn't think that politicians should have to release their taxes. I'm kind of impressed that any of the "small government" candidates (haha, except for Paul, there really is no such thing) would even THINK about doing such a thing.

    Paul can kiss my ass with his excuse, though. Cute, but not remotely true. I'd rather he say "It's none of your goddamn business how much I earn and what I do with it."

    1. Negropolis

      Yeah, we shoud totally not mind politicians hiding their dirty financial dealings from us. Fuck us for wanting to see very basic records of our public servants.

      1. anniegetyerfun

        Everyone should be able to hide their dirty financial dealings – if the IRS catches them, then so be it. Running for office should not mean turning your entire life over for public scrutiny (unless you are a “moral majority” kind of pol who is cheating on your third wife or whatever).

        1. Negropolis

          We'll just have to disagree. As I see it, asking for a politicians finances is not the same as rummaging through his or her bedroom. Dirty financial dealings usually end up hurting multiple victims; dirty sex lives are usually consensual, so that doesn't much matter to me.

  40. Nesnora

    He's just worried the American people won't understand that his hair helmet is a legitimate dependent.

  41. Troglodeity

    Romney says he needs THREE MONTHS – until April – to release his tax returns.

    I'll make this real simple for you, Mittens:
    1. Go to your file cabinet.
    2. Take out your returns.
    3. Copy them.
    4. Release them.

    Ten minutes, tops.

  42. Schmegeg

    George came back from Vietnam and complained that our generals tried to brainwash him. Thanks for playing.

    It appears brainfarts are genetic.

  43. ExecutorElassus

    hee hee! This is just like what happened with Gephardt and Dean in the 2004 primaries, only now for a good cause!

    "I may go down in flames, but at least I can take you down with me."

    So long, only remotely viable candidates!

  44. twborl

    What we REALLY need to see is All of their Tax Returns, Especially from the other Real Crook Ron Paul !!!

  45. Negropolis

    I thought the most awkward thing about that exchange is how he both seemed to shamelessly disown a positive part of his father's legacy, and then put a creep, little Dubya laugh to cap it all off, as if he'd just made a joke. It was painful to watch and left me feeling angry. He just doesn't get it.

    BTW:

    “No one’s challenging me because I have no conflict of interest,” Paul said.

    No, Doctor Paul. No one is challeging you because you simply don't matter as far as your party is concerned. They aren't afraid of you; they hold an even more dangerous emotion towards you: sheer and utter ambivalence.

  46. ttommyunger

    Not too proud to take a page from Barry's playbook, Mittens had decided to break into song the next time he fields a question about his taxes. So far, he's leaning toward a Lee Greenwood favorite. Santorum is considering "We Are Sinking Deep in Sin", Gingrich will no doubt do Cash's "I Walk the Line" and Paul will no doubt do Patsy Cline's "Crazy". I can't wait.

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