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(I don't know how the Youtube poster Carl can claim Reid is lying. Does he have any inside info?)
There's a big dust up today over speculation that Jon Huntsman Sr. -- a fellow Mormon and ostensibly, a Romney supporter and the father of former Republican presidential candidate -- is Harry Reid's source for his attacks on Mitt Romney and his refusal to release his tax returns.
Reid obviously wants to damage Romney, and knows this story would put the Republican nominee in a bind. If true, he can't release the taxes, but every day he refuses to release them is another day that Romney takes a hit with the voters.So he knows he won't make the safe play and sit on the story.Still, he's got something else to protect in addition to his source: his reputation. He's probably not worried about reelection at this point, not just because he's got four years until his next one in a state that is trending strongly Democratic, but because he'll be 76 then and may want to call it quits. He knows the media will crucify him for making such outlandish accusations without concrete proof because, you know, he's a Democrat and Democrats don't play dirty. But he trusts Huntsman.
But better yet—Huntsman is a well-known recognizable name with a great deal of cachet outside Republican crazy circles. There's a reason Junior was President Barack Obama's ambassador to China. So Reid is confident his accusations are true. But better yet, he knows that if the identity of his source is revealed, the Huntsman name will instantly add credibility to his claims and damage Romney even further. This isn't some random scrub, after all.So he goes public and crosses his fingers that the Republicans will take the bait—if they ignore him, his gambit goes nowhere. No need to worry. They instantly ramp up the outrage meter from 0 to 11.
Why aren't Democratic members of Congress seizing upon Harry's Reid's assertion that Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in ten years? Every week a new Dem should renew their calls for Romney to come clean and then cite Reid's claims. Can you imagine what Fox News would be doing to President Obama if he refused to release his tax returns? World Nut Daily would say that he's being paid by the Muslim Brotherhood. Newsmax would suggest that's he's taking Iranian bribe money. I could go on and on with John Birch Society-type conspiracy theories. Rush Limbaugh and right wing hate radio would be piling on too, 24/7.
Greg Sargent reports that Jon Huntsman told him he's not the Reid leak, but who knows if he's telling the truth? Mormons believe the truth doesn't matter. However, he did say that Romney should divulge his information to the American people.
But I just got off the phone with Huntsman, and he confirmed to me that he is not Reid’s source.
However, in a move that could be significant, Huntsman forcefully called on Romney to release his tax returns. This matters, because Huntsman is a longtime backer of Romney — he has long been close to Romney; he supported his early campaigns; he was the national finance chairman of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign; and he has raised a lot of money for him over the years. (He backed his own son in the latest GOP primary.)
“I feel very badly that Mitt won’t release his taxes and won’t be fair with the American people,” Huntsman told me. In a reference to Romney’s father, who pioneered the release of returns as a presidential candidate, Huntsman said: “I loved George. He always said, pay your taxes for at least 10 or 12 years.”
“Mr. Romney ought to square with the American people and release his taxes like any other candidate,” Huntsman said. “I’ve supported Mitt all along. I wish him well. But I do think he should release his income taxes.”
Huntsman's office later corrected the statement that George Romney said that all candidates should release their tax returns for at least 10 years, not just pay them. Add Huntsman to the long line of GOPers to call for Mittens to release his tax returns.
Romney must have very good reasons not to, but I'll leave that up to you. Clearly his calculus is that whatever is in there is clearly worth hiding, despite the way it's hurting his campaign and causing strife within his own party.
Can we trust someone who spits in the face of the type of presidential transparency that his own father began?
UPDATE: From TPM: Mitt asks Obama to please stop bringing up his business and taxes. That sound you heard is the smack of desperation.