From 42’s discussion with Erin Burnett:
ERIN BURNETT: Why do you think Mitt Romney won’t release his tax returns?
BILL CLINTON: I have no idea. But it– (LAUGH) whatever it is it couldn’t be as bad as not doin’ it. I mean– you know, in his first tax return, the one year he did release all of his income was taxed at 15% capital gain. But he can honestly say he didn’t draw a salary. He was runnin’ for president, so all of his income was investment income. That was the law, whether people like it or not it was the law, he fully complied with the law.
He also gave away 16% of his income, and presumably most of it to the Mormon Church. But it didn’t hurt– I mean, I think– you know, with everyone else being so much more forthcoming it raises the question of whether he thinks it should be a different set of rules for him than everybody else.
And that’s a problem for him. But I don’t know enough about it, but he obviously has concluded that the damage he’s taking for now doing it is greater than the damage he’d take from doing it. But it’s hard to imagine that that’s true.
ERIN BURNETT: Right, that there’s something that bad in there. I mean– ’cause giving money to the Mormon Church, I mean, it was about 51%. And then for the estimated numbers he gave for 2011 about 80% to the Mormon Church. So presumably people already know that and are all right with that, I mean, even if there was some sort of–
BILL CLINTON: I think that’s– you know, commendable.
ERIN BURNETT: –I don’t know, perceived issue PR-wise with Mormonism.
BILL CLINTON: They do a lot of good work around the world. You know, the– Hawaii for example is the only state in America that has totally equal public school funding, but they only have about 2/3 to 70% of their kids in public schools because before Hawaii was a state the Mormons and others but primarily Mormons came there and set up these schools.
So– I remember when I was president I helped– secure the release of some Mormon missionaries who were in Peru and had been apprehended and imprisoned but their radical group, Sendero Luminoso, before it was eliminated. So I just can’t figure out why he doesn’t do it. I think it’s a mistake, I think he ought to do it. He ought to release a decade’s worth of tax returns.
ERIN BURNETT: That’s right, just deluge the press with all 50,000 pages or whatever it might be.
BILL CLINTON: Yeah– I– that’s what I think.
ERIN BURNETT: Should anything be off the table when you run for president? I guess that’s the question, seems that’s what his issue– that he said, “Well, this is– I’m gonna draw the privacy line here.” I mean, do you think that there’s anything to that or that in this day and age everything, your personal life, your tax life, whatever it might be, that you just have to accept that and put it in the public eye?
BILL CLINTON: Well, I think that the press now much more than in the ’80s and ’90s has– is somewhat more sensitive to the purely personal aspects of a person’s life. But things that relate to your business activities or your public activities– in Governor Romney’s case his governorship of Massachusetts, the Olympics and Bain Capital and the taxes that are heavily related to all that, I don’t think you can say you think they should be off the table and if the law doesn’t require you to disclose something you can gut it out.
I mean, he’s defended the work that he’s done, he’s talked a lot about his pride in the Olympics. He’s had to explain why he’s now against the law the he signed as a solution for the country. It’s hard to– again may change a little bit from election to election but when it’s things that are right at the core of what your public philosophy is I think that’s always gonna be relevant.
ERIN BURNETT: When you look at him running– I mean, I know you’ve talked about him being qualified and– and certainly he is when you look at his background. Obviously I know you don’t– you’re not gonna vote for him obviously, right?
BILL CLINTON: No, I’m not gonna vote for him.
ERIN BURNETT: Okay, just makin’ sure, I mean —
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