Mitt Romney jumped into the 2016 GOP presidential fray with both feet yesterday, demanding that the top three candidates release their past tax returns while suggesting that Donald Trump's returns contained a "bombshell."
"I think there's something there," Romney said of Trump's returns, "Either he's not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is, or he hasn't been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay," Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, told Fox News' Neil Cavuto on "Your World."
Trump responded later Wednesday on Twitter, slamming Romney for losing a winnable election, and calling him "awkward" and "goofy" when the governor asked for the real estate magnate's endorsement.
The reason I think there's a bombshell in there is because every time he's asked about his taxes, he dodges and delays and says 'well, we're working on it.' Hey, we're not talking about the taxes that are coming due this year… We're talking about taxes that already filed," Romney, a multimillionaire businessman, said.
"This was an issue in my  campaign. That's why I'm so sensitive to it," Romney said.
"We're going to select our nominee. We really ought to see from all three of these fellows what their taxes look like to see if there's an issue there," he added, also pointing to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, "I think in Donald Trump's case, it's likely to be a bombshell."
"Perhaps he hasn't been giving money to the veterans or to the disabled like he's been telling us he's been doing. I think that's the reason there's a bombshell [in his returns]," he said.
Cavuto pressed Romney as to whether the governor was indeed questioning the amount of Trump's declared charitable donations.
"Well, if his taxes show that he hasn't made any contributions to the disabled veterans… that would be a big issue, and I'm not saying that's the case," Romney said, "I'm just saying there are things that could be issues."
It's not surprising that Trump hasn't released past tax returns nor is it surprising that he hasn't released his college transcripts. Trump's claims about how smart he is, how rich he is, how generous he is are open to question. What is he hiding? There is no principle at work. This is the normal vetting process that every candidate goes through. Even Obama released his tax returns from 2000-2008 when he first ran for president.
It is perfectly reasonable to speculate that a rich man like Donald Trump takes advantage of numerous tax loopholes - especially in the real estate business - to reduce his tax liability. This doesn't disqualify him from being president. But his lack of transparency on the subject should trouble everyone who made the same point about President Obama.