By Alistair Bell
Columbia, South Carolina | Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:14pm EST
Columbia, South Carolina (Reuters) – Humbled by (bị hạ nhục) a stunning loss in South Carolina, Mitt Romney said on Sunday he would release (công khai) this week the tax returns (thu nhập đánh thuế) demanded by rivals as he bids to regain the upper hand (giành lại thế thượng phong) in the volatile Republican presidential race (cuộc chạy đua vào Nhà Trắng đầy bùng nổ của các ứng viên đảng Cọng hòa).
Romney, the longtime front-runner in the Republican race and one of the wealthiest presidential candidates in history, lost to (thua phiếu trước) a resurgent (người chỗi dậy) Newt Gingrich in the conservative Southern state on Saturday after stumbling badly in debates with clumsy responses (qua các phản ứng vụng về) to demands that he disclose (công khai) his tax history (hồ sơ thuế).
Trying to recapture his footing as the contest heads to (đang gần tới giai đoạn) more populous and more moderate Florida, Romney said he would release his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011 on Tuesday.
“We made a mistake holding off as long as we did and it just was a distraction (sự xao nhãng),” Romney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Romney said the returns would be on the Internet and emphasized he was releasing two years of returns after Gingrich posted 2010 taxes on Thursday.
He slammed (đả kích gay gắt) Gingrich as a Washington insider (kẻ nội gián), a line of attack (một lối tấn công) he is expected to use going forward (tiến tới), and called on his rival (đối thủ) to release details of his contract with the government-sponsored mortgage (dịch vụ thế chấp do nhà nước bảo trợ ) finance giant Freddie Mac.
Gingrich’s work for Freddie Mac could raise concerns (gây quan ngại) for some voters in Florida, a state that has been hit hard (thiệt hại) by the downturn in the U.S. real estate market.
“He talks about great, bold movements and ideas, well what’s he been doing for 15 years? He’s been working as a lobbyist … that’s selling influence around Washington,” Romney told about 300 supporters in a campaign stop later on Sunday outside Daytona Beach, Florida.
Romney’s tax announcement was meant to draw a line under a bad week punctuated by his own missteps, a surprising turn in an otherwise tightly scripted (có kịch bản, được lên kế hoạch trước) campaign.
In the midst of a halting response to the tax return (tờ khai thuế) controversy, Romney said he paid a rate of about 15 percent, low compared with many U.S. wage earners but in line with (phù hợp với chính sách) what wealthy individuals pay on income from investments.
Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives (cựu Chủ tịch Hạ viện) with a sharp tongue (miệng lưỡi sắc sảo) layed well in debates, pounced (đột kích) Romney’s weak flank and walloped (đánh bại) the former Massachusetts governor by 40 percent to 28 percent in South Carolina.
The Gingrich win reshaped (làm thay đổi) the Republican race and reflected (biểu lộ, cho thấy) a party sharply divided (bị chia rẽ sâu sắc) over how to beat Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
There have been three nominating contests (cuộc bỏ phiếu đề cử ứng viên) so far and Gingrich, Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum have each won one.
A victory in Florida’s primary on January 31 would restore Romney’s luster after South Carolina, and a Gingrich win would solidify him as a serious challenger to the former business executive. A protracted and poisonous Republican battle, in turn, could be a boon (phước, tin lành) to Obama’s re-election bid.
“It’s hard to see it ending soon. It could drag on (cứ lê thê) to April,” said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union. Cardenas headed (đứng đầu) Romney’s campaign in Florida in 2008, but has remained neutral (giữ trung lập) this time.
“When this is over (Khi chuyện này qua đi), we are going to have a presidential candidate showing all his warts (mụn cơm mụn cóc). We are going to enter into a national election with a candidate whose chinks () in the armor are visibly seen,” he said.
With 19 million people, Florida presents (đặt ra) logistical and financial challenges (những thách đố, cái khó khăn) that may give an advantage to Romney’s well-funded campaign machine.
In Florida, he leads Gingrich by 40.5 percent to 22 percent, according to polls (cuộc thăm dò) cited by RealClearPolitics.com, conducted before Romney’s battering (cuộc tấn công tới tấp vào) in South Carolina. Santorum, a social conservative (phe bảo thủ xã hội) who won the Iowa contest (cuộc đua tranh) but has struggled to gain traction since then, is third with 15 percent.
Texas Congressman (nghị sĩ bang Texas) Ron Paul, who is not campaigning (vận động tranh cử) in Florida, is fourth at about 9 percent.
ROMNEY FLOODS FLORIDA
Some Florida voters were delighted by Gingrich’s rise.
Eugenio Perez, 58, a Miami property manager, said Gingrich’s experience would help him in the White House.
“We live in a very complex world and we can’t put a novice (tay mơ, người thiếu kinh nghiệm) in such a high place, as we did in 2008,” he said.
The more moderate electorate (cử tri ôn hòa) in Florida may help Romney, who has failed to consolidate (hợp nhất, kết tụ) conservative support despite his longtime front-runner (người có triển vọng thành công) status and had hoped to wrap up (cuối cùng giành được) the nomination (sự đề cử) after Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman bowed out (rút lui, chào thua) last week.
Facing a real estate crisis and an unemployment rate of 9.9 percent, above the national average, Floridians are also expected to be more open to Romney’s argument that he is the type of “CEO president” the country needs.
“I like the fact that Romney is a businessman who has been successful. Some people criticize that but I think that’s commendable,” said Mike Sullivan, 57, a professional golfer who attended the Romney rally.
“Right now, we need a chief executive who can run America like a business and not like the Salvation Army.”
The tax release shift and financial advantage could help Romney regain his momentum after Gingrich’s win.
A political action committee formed by Romney backers, Restore Our Future, has spent $5 million in Florida for Romney since mid-December, 20 times the amount spent there so far by any other group supporting a Republican candidate, according to Federal Election Commission filings analyzed by Reuters.
Romney could get some help from Santorum, who is competing with Gingrich to be the conservative alternative to Romney.
“It’s a choice between a moderate and an erratic conservative – someone who on a lot of the major issues has been just wrong,” Santorum told ABC’s “This Week” program, saying Gingrich was out of step with many Republicans on Wall Street bailouts, health policy, immigration and global warming. “I think he’s a very high-risk candidate.
Gingrich has see-sawed in national polls but has shown an uncanny (phi thường) ability to hang on, especially after an exodus of his staff last summer. Now he must prove he is the most “electable” choice despite hefty political and personal baggage.
Gingrich, who refers to Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate,” said having his rival’s taxes on the table would at least put an end to that part of the campaign narrative (câu chuyện, the story).
“As far as I’m concerned, that particular issue is now set aside (put aside) and we can go on and talk about other bigger and more important things,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But the tax issue will almost certainly not go away (không tự biến đi).
Income inequality (bất bình đẳng về thu nhập) has become a leading topic in the presidential race, and Obama has signaled he will talk about an economy that works “for everyone, not just a wealthy few (thiểu số người giàu)” in his State of the Union address(Thông điệp Liên bang) on Tuesday, the day of Romney’s tax return release (công bố).
(Additional reporting by Ros Krasny in Coral Springs, Florida, Patricia Zengerle and David Adams in Miami, Terry Wade in Daytona Beach and David Morgan and Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington. Writing by Jeff Mason and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)