At a Fox News debate in South Carolina Tuesday night, Romney said, "[I]f I become [the GOP] nominee, and what's happened in history is people have released them in about April of the coming year and that's probably what I would do."
At a briefing Tuesday, Carney offered, "[I]t's not for us to call on someone to release his tax records, but it is an established tradition for presidential candidates to release their tax records." He added that President Obama released his own when he was running.
Romney is admittedly feeling accelerated pressure to do so, noting he has already released details of his financial assets, as required by law. However, he added that the release of his tax records won't necessarily shed any new light. "I have nothing in them that suggests there's any problem and I'm happy to do so. I sort of feel like we are showing a lot of exposure at this point," he said.
The release could provide yet more fodder for the Obama campaign, striving to paint the election as a battle for the survival of the middle class, but Romney already tried to pull the rug out of any future attacks by admitting he pays an effective personal tax rate of just 15 percent.
"The President feels very strongly that everybody needs to pay their fair share," Carney said, noting that he hasn't spoken to the president about Romney's situation in particular. "And that would apply to somebody paying 15 percent -- an effective tax rate of 15 percent on millions of dollars of income."
While the White House continually says the time for politics will come when the GOP has decided on its nominee, reporters couldn't help but notice Tuesday that Carney readily had certain information to make his case about the release of Romney's tax records.
Carney: "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."
Reporter: "[You] just happened to know that?" (Laughter)
Carney: "I'm a student of presidential politics."