- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FLORENCE, S.C. — Mitt Romney said Tuesday he will eventually release his income-tax returns, but acknowledged he likely pays a lower overall tax rate than many less-wealthy Americans.

In a debate Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called on Mr. Romney to release the information ahead of Saturday’s primary in South Carolina so voters could evaluate Mr. Romney better. At the time, the former Massachusetts governor said he would make a decision later, but by Tuesday morning he said he would release the forms — though probably not until April, which could be after the nomination battle is over.

Still, he did begin to talk about the potentially damaging outcome of that release.

“What’s the effective rate I’ve been paying? It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything,” Mr. Romney said, referring to the tax rate on investment income, which is much lower than the top rates for wage or salary income.

Monday night’s debate produced a dozen noteworthy moments and could reshape the race here in South Carolina, as candidates across the board sought to press their advantage or recover from stumbles.

Newt Gingrich released a television ad Tuesday showing his exchange with Fox News debate panelist Juan Williams, who had challenged the former House speaker on his claim that President Obama is the “food-stamp president” and Mr. Gingrich’s idea that poor urban youths could earn money by doing janitorial work.

Mr. Gingrich’s thundering answer that he wouldn’t be cowed by “liberals unhappy” with his plans drew a standing ovation from the audience.

The attack even resonated at the White House, where the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, accused Republicans of creating the environment that led to a record number of Americans ending up on food stamps last year.

“The economic policies that helped create that situation are ones that, in the case of [Mr. Gingrich], he supported, and they’re the kinds of policies that he advocates to this day,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Gingrich collected the endorsement of South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, while rival Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won the support of three more South Carolina state senators.

Mr. Paul said he detects momentum building and rejected the suggestion he would drop out of the race if Mr. Romney continues to win the next couple of contests, saying it’s a long time before anyone has the nomination sewed up.

The congressman also defended his call for an international Golden Rule in Monday’s debate.

“You look at the six or seven large religions in the history of the world, one way or another they recognize, you treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said in Spartanburg, S.C.

Mr. Paul will take Wednesday off the campaign trail to return to Washington, where he will join fellow House Republicans in voting to disapprove of the latest debt-limit increase.

His campaign manager, Jesse Benton, said the move will underscore that Mr. Paul is engaged in the fight.

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