Jan. 18 - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney faces mounting pressure to release tax information ahead of the South Carolina primary. Deborah Gembara reports.
In South Carolina --- one number was on the minds of many locals with just days to go before the state's primary 15 --- as in 15 percent --- the tax rate Republican Mitt Romney says he paid last year --- significantly lower than the 35 perecent paid by most Americans. It's the latest in a national debate over the fairness of U.S. income tax rates. SOUNDBITE: Matthew Phipps, Republican, saying: "I don't know if its fair but if there are tax advantages given to people who want to invest money i dont think it should be discouraged i dont think it's wrong of him to pay less tax. If I could pay less tax I would." SOUNDBITE: Joe Engel, Long-time Charleston Resident, Republican leaning toward Newt Gingrich saying: "It's not fair but he said that's the law, I pay what the law says." SOUNDBITE: Peter Andre Arguimbau, 21-Year-old, student, Saying: "I mean I think that's crazy. My father pays more than that and my father makes much less than Mitt Romney. So, I think it's a little ridiculous." Romney, one of the wealthiest Americans to ever run for the White White House has in recent days tried to steer clear of the issue and specifically the number. SOUNDBITE: Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney saying: "Tradition has been the nominee releases his tax returns in tax season, in April, and I know that if I'm the nominee, people will want to see the most recent year and see what happened in the most recent year and see what happened in the most recent year, and what things are up to date - and so they'll want to see the tax returns that come out in April. So, rather than sort of have multiple releases of tax returns, why, we'll wait until tax returns for the recent year are completed, and then release them." Romney's Republican rivals have urged him to release his tax records. In Washington, the White house even weighed in on the issue. SOUNDBITE: White House spokesman Jay Carney saying: "Obviously we think it's a good tradition, and that's why then-Senator Obama released his tax records going back I think six or seven years when he was a candidate for President in the 2008 election cycle. And I believe -- I think it was a tradition that was initiated by then-presidential candidate George Romney, back in 1968, who released 12 years of tax records in '68, as I understand it." Political Science professor Jeri Cabot says the tax issue could play a factor in Sunday's primary. SOUNDBITE: Jeri Cabot, Political Science Professor saying: "For some of the Republican electorate, it will be an issue, for those who have already doubted whether he knows my pain, does he have that ability to empathize with people through this economic downturn that we have been experiencing." Having won in Iowa and New Hampshire, Romney is still favored to win the South Carolina primary on Saturday as well as Florida's primary later this month. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.