RILEY: I think it is. I think Romney is getting that message across. In these swing states, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, polls show voters trust them more on the economy. It's explains why --
GIGOT: Trust Romney more?
RILEY: Trust Romney more. It explains why Romney only wants to talk about the economy. It also explains why Obama would rather talk about anything but the economy.
But I agree with Kim. It's incredible that Romney could have been caught flat-footed on this issue. He saw all of these attacks in the primary race from his Republican rivals. He knew they were going to come from the Obama campaign. He should have started what you just saw in that ad a long time ago.
GIGOT: And what about the tax return issue, Kim? The Romney campaign released one year, 2010. And they say they're going to release 2011 when those are done. That was an issue in primaries too. They've been reluctant to release more. And Democrats are pounding on that. Is that a mistake?
STRASSEL: I think it is. He's going to be put in a position the pressure is going to be so great to get it out there. It has raised all these questions, saying, why won't he release them. Of course, the Democrats are suggesting there is something shady or nefarious. It's hard to believe that. This guy has been running for president for years. Who is going to put something in their tax returns that could get them in trouble?
GIGOT: Well, but, OK, why isn't he releasing them then? What's the rationale?
STRASSEL: I think that -- I think that goes back to what he said before, which is that there is a great reluctance in the Romney campaign to talk about anything that has to do with his wealth or his time at Bain. There is a fear that this class warfare message from the president is resonating. They just don't want to have that discussion. But they're just going to keep getting hit on it, again and again.
GIGOT: You guys, any difference on the tax returns? Should he get rid of them?
FREEMAN: The sooner the better. I mean, I'm not one that thinks 12 years necessarily is the right number. But he ought to get the recent ones out there and he ought to do it at the same time he says look at all the companies I've built through Bain Capital.
GIGOT: Should have gotten them out last year.
GIGOT: Puts this issue behind him.
All right. When we come back, as Mitt Romney closes in on a VP pick, our panel handicaps front-runners for the job. And with the Republican National Convention still over a month away, is it too soon for Romney to make his choice public?
GIGOT: Speculation grew this week about Mitt Romney's VP pick, with reports the former Massachusetts governor's short list had gotten shorter, and that an announcement was imminent. Who is likely on that list and how soon is too soon to announce?
We're back with Jason Riley, James Freeman and Kim Strassel. Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Dorothy Rabinowitz, also joins the panel.
So, Kim, quickly, about this issue of when to announce the pick, mistake to do it now before the convention or wait until the convention?
STRASSEL: I don't think so. They're looking back at 2008 and the McCain decision to choose someone relatively unknown, put them out at the convention. As a result, Sarah Palin became sort of the subject of the media frenzy. It overwhelmed the campaign. They don't want a repeat of that. They're going to get it out, get the news out so, by the time of the convention, they can have two guys focused on the message.
GIGOT: So you think it's a good idea to get it out early?
STRASSEL: I think so. Romney has wanted to make this about the economy. Keep it on message. He doesn't want to throw someone out there in September and have the news media spend the next two months focused on his VP pick.
Dorothy, John McCain, in picking Sarah Palin, took a risk. It was high risk, high reward. You can decide whether that worked out or not. But now, Mitt Romney is even in the polls. McCain felt he needed the long ball. He was behind. What does Romney do? Does he need to do the same thing? Take a risk?
DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: This is never going to happen again.
We learned a lot from the Sarah Palin --
And despite faulty memories, this was not an instant hit. People were worried immediately.
GIGOT: OK. But this should -- should Romney take the risk? Or go with a safe pick?
RABINOWITZ: He should go with a safe pick. There's no question about it.
GIGOT: Someone that has been vetted? Somebody --
RABINOWITZ: Yes. And he is never going anyway to go do this other long-ball hit. It's simply impossible to have another Sarah Palin experiment. He doesn't have anybody like that. He's going to have a safe pick. It's within his nature to have a safe pick.
RILEY: It's a close race. It's going to be a close race by all accounts. You go with a "do no harm" pick --
RILEY: -- who only has an upside.
GIGOT: Who can fill that pick?