Report: GOP governor says he didn’t call on Romney to release more tax records

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is walking back remarks calling for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release additional tax returns, according to a report Saturday.

Democrats have called attention to a quote from Bentley that appeared in an Associated Press article Saturday that appeared to veer off the Romney campaign’s message that releasing tax returns for 2010 and 2011 was sufficiently transparent.

"If you have things to hide, then maybe you're doing things wrong," the AP quoted Bentley saying during a trip to Virginia for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

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"I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people," the wire service report quoted Bentley as saying.

In a subsequent interview with the Buzzfeed.com website Saturday, Bentley attempted to clarify that he was not agreeing with Democratic arguments that Romney was hiding something by not agreeing to release tax returns from multiple years.

"I didn’t call on him to do that. That’s not the question that was asked,” said Bentley, who said backed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum during the Alabama Republican primary.   

"The question that was asked was do you believe that Gov. Romney should release his tax returns,” Bentley continued.  “I said I believe in total transparency, I believe that everyone should release their tax returns."

Despite relentless attacks from President Obama’s reelection campaign and other Democrats, Romney has stood firm in his pledge not to release tax returns for years prior to 2010.

"You can never satisfy the opposition research team of the Obama organization," he said of the decision in an interview with CBS. 

The Obama campaign jumped on a report from Vanity Fair last week detailing Romney’s foreign transactions and offshores holdings in such countries as Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Obama called on Romney to be an “open book” and release tax records from additional years, a move Romney rebuffed.

Democrats called attention to Bentley’s original remarks Saturday in the manor same manner Republicans highlighted previous comments from former President Bill Clinton and Newark Mayor Cory Booker that were earlier critical of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s business record.

Like Bentley, both Clinton and Booker went to extensive lengths to clarify their remarks after they were widely seen as being off message with their party’s presidential nominee.