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SALT LAKE CITY — It's the economy, stupid.
That was the message of then-Gov. Bill Clinton in his successful 1992 presidential election. Now, 20 years later, the campaign of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is attempting to make the same argument against incumbent President Barack Obama.
However, a recent report from the Tax Policy Center says Romney's plan for the economy may not be beneficial for low- and middle-income families who are struggling to recover from the recession. Instead, the report finds, Romney's economic plan will likely benefit wealthier individuals.
The Romney campaign, however, contends the report is not accurate and that the Obama campaign is using a liberal study that distorts the facts. Speaking with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity on his radio program, Romney said his plan ensures wealthy Americans will continue to pay their share in taxes, while low- and middle-income families will see a decrease in paying taxes.
"He has a way of putting out a false statement and then attacking it and making it sound like it's mine, which of course it's not," Romney said. "He knows better than that. It really is a matter of a president doing almost anything to try and avoid talking about his own record."
Romney has championed his experience in the private sector as the CEO of Bain Capital as the main reason he knows how to turn the economy around. And while recent polls say the economy matters the most to voters in this presidential election, the persistent attacks on Romney's refusal to release more tax returns continues to cloud the election.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid again accused Romney of not paying taxes for a 10-year period, saying a source at Bain Capital informed him about Romney's failure to pay taxes.
"So, the word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't," Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. "We already know from one partial tax return that he gave us, he has money hidden in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and a Swiss banking account. Mitt Romney makes more money in a single day than the average middle-class family makes in two years or more."
Romney denies the claims and has repeatedly asked for the source to come forward.
"Well, it's time for Harry to put up or shut up," Romney told Hannity. "Harry's going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because of course, that's totally and completely wrong."
"It's untrue, dishonest and inaccurate. It's wrong," Romney added. So, I'm looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources and we'll probably find out it's the White House."
Reid contends his sources are accurate and that it explains why Romney won't release more tax returns. And with many doubts remaining in American voters, particularly in swing states, Romney finds himself in a difficult position.