Romney's remaining nomination foes emphasized in the debate in Myrtle Beach on Monday night that whatever vulnerabilities he might bring to a campaign against Obama, the party should know about them now.
Romney was asked about his taxes shortly before he left South Carolina for a high-dollar fundraiser in New York.
"What's the effective rate I've been paying? It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything," Romney said. "Because my last 10 years, I've — my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past, rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income."
By his own account, Romney hasn't received a regular paycheck since 1999. That's when he left the private equity firm he founded, Bain Capital, where he became a multimillionaire. Most of Romney's taxable income comes from investing the fortune he made there. He donated income from his time running the Salt Lake City Olympics to charity.
He also told reporters Tuesday that he has donated the proceeds from the sale of his book, "No Apology," to charity.
Romney said in the Monday debate he probably would release returns because it's tradition.
"I have nothing in them that suggests there's any problem and I'm happy to do so," he said then. "I sort of feel like we're showing a lot of exposure at this point."
At the White House, Carney said that as a candidate in 2008, Obama released multiple years of tax records and has disclosed his returns annually since becoming president. He said George W. Bush and Bill Clinton did the same thing, as did "nominees for each party for years and years and years." In a jab at the Republican front-runner, he said Romney's father, George Romney, released his own returns when he ran for the White House in 1968.
Obama has called on Congress to let Bush-era tax cuts on upper income earners expire at the end of 2012. Romney is opposed, as are most if not all of the Republicans in Congress.
But the former Massachusetts governor has also come under pressure from some of his Republican rivals for recommending no change in the capital gains tax for anyone making more than $200,000 a year. Gingrich, for example, wants to abolish the capital gains tax.
In the debate Monday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry insisted that Romney release his returns, saying that the party needs to fully scrutinize its nominee now instead of later.
Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed from Washington.
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