U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says he will release his tax returns for the past two years this week, saying it was a mistake for his campaign not to do so earlier.
The former Massachusetts governor said in an interview Sunday with Fox News that not releasing the returns has been a distraction and hurt him in Saturday’s South Carolina Republican presidential primary which he lost to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich won 40 percent of the vote amid a record turnout, while Romney trailed in second place with 28 percent.
Gingrich touted his victory with an apparent jab at Romney, a former venture capitalist, who has faced criticism from his rivals over his wealth.
“We don’t have the kind of money at least one of the candidates has,” he said. “But we do have ideas, and we do have people. And we proved here in South Carolina that people power with the right ideas beats big money, and with your help, we are going to prove it again in Florida.”
Just a week ago, Romney was expected to win easily, but his campaign was hard hit by attacks over his career as a venture capitalist.
After the initial results emerged Saturday, Romney hit back, criticizing both President Barack Obama and Romney’s Republican rivals.
“Our president has divided the nation, engaged in class warfare, and attacked the free enterprise system that has made America the economic envy of the world,” said Romney. “We cannot defeat that president with a candidate who has joined in that very assault on free enterprise. When my opponents attack success and free enterprise, they are not only attacking me, they are attacking every person who dreams of a better future.”
Third place in South Carolina went to former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 17 percent, followed by Congressman Ron Paul of Texas with 13 percent.
Paul did much better in South Carolina this year than in the 2008 race. He said his cause of liberty is getting more attention now because of current conditions.
“Well the evidence has become clear that the efforts by government are failing, and we can’t depend on the government to take care of us from cradle to grave, we can’t depend on the government, on its efforts to promote, and to believe that we can police the world, and go in and nation-build, because we’re all going broke,” said Paul.
Gingrich’s upset victory means all three of the Republican party primary election’s held so far have had different winners. Romney won the New Hampshire primary the previous week, and Santorum won the Iowa caucuses on January 3.
Santorum made note of the volatility in his speech Saturday night.
“Well, three states, three winners, what a great country!” he said.
The battle will continue to be hard fought in the next primary state – Florida. Republicans there will vote on January 31.