Romney vows transparency after defeat

City A.M. Reporter
REPUBLICAN presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged yesterday to release his tax returns this week, bowing to pressure from critics and hoping to make up for a misstep that helped rival Newt Gingrich win South Carolina’s primary race.

Long considered the frontrunner, Romney stumbled badly in debates last week on his delay in disclosing his tax returns and then lost his air of being the inevitable Republican nominee after a resurrected Gingrich defeated him in the third contest.

Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, pounced on Romney’s surprising weakness and rode it to victory on Saturday, trouncing the former governor of Massachusetts by 40 per cent to 28 per cent in South Carolina.

Trying to regain his momentum as the race heads to Florida, Romney sought to draw a line under the bad week and fix his error. He said he would release his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011 tomorrow.

“We made a mistake holding off as long as we did and it just was a distraction,” Romney said on Fox News.

Last week, Romney said he pays a tax rate of around 15 per cent, a low rate compared to many American wage earners but in line with what wealthy individuals pay on income that largely comes from investments.

One of the wealthiest US presidential candidates in history, Romney emphasised he was releasing two years of returns after Gingrich posted his taxes for 2010 last Thursday.

Gingrich, who has see-sawed in national polls and must prove to Republicans that he is the most “electable” candidate despite political and personal baggage, praised Romney and said the issue would be moot once the taxes were out.

“I think that’s a very good thing he’s doing and I commend him for it,” Gingrich said on NBC’s Meet the Press.