- Associated Press - Monday, June 11, 2012

BOSTON — Keeping his secrets, Mitt Romney tends to lift the veil on his finances and campaign only if the law says he must.

The Republican presidential candidate refuses to identify his biggest donors, who “bundle” money for his campaign. He often declines to say who’s meeting with him or what he’s doing for hours at a time. He puts limits on media access to his fundraisers. And he resists releasing all of his tax returns, making just a single year public after facing pressure to do so.

“We’ve released all the information required by law and then some,” Mr. Romney said last month about his tax returns.

He has indicated that part of the reason for his secrecy is to avoid political problems in his race against President Obama.

He has said of his election foe: “He’s going to try and make this campaign about the fact that I’ve been successful, that I’ve made a lot of money. So he wants to be able to get all the details on each year and how much money I made this year and that year. I’m not going to get into that.”

Not that Mr. Obama has been totally open, either.

For example, the Democrat also limits media access to some parts of his fundraisers, though he allows cameras into larger events and will bring a small contingent of reporters into private residences. Reporters are promptly ushered out ahead of question-and-answer sessions with donors. Some fundraisers are closed because the campaign says Mr. Obama is not making any formal remarks.

But Mr. Romney, whose views have been shaped both by his years in politics and his nearly three decades in private business, has made a keep-it-under-wraps approach a hallmark of his campaign. He’s often broken precedent set by presidential candidates of both parties.

“He is reluctant to disclose information that is standard for disclosure and has become the norm,” said Angela Canterbury, policy director for the Project on Government Oversight. She and others say there’s no reason to think that style would change if Mr. Romney became president.

There’s a short-term political benefit, to be sure, in keeping a lid on everything from campaign appearances to the names of big donors. It means Mr. Romney can more easily control his campaign message, rather than getting knocked off course by Democratic hecklers at events or by unflattering media stories. And it can prevent providing fodder for political rivals to use against him.

But there also are risks, not the least of which is that Mr. Romney could appear to be hiding something, further irking voters already suspicious of politicians.

On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Romney’s aides have at times tried to limit reporters from approaching him when he shakes hands with voters at events. And his aides often don’t allow a camera and microphone onstage to record those interactions — though that’s been customary in past campaigns.

Also, Mr. Romney’s schedule is closely held — and his campaign typically won’t say what he’s doing when he’s not at one of the few public events he holds each week. Even public appearances often are announced less than a day in advance — or not at all.

The Romney campaign also usually won’t disclose with whom the candidate meets — regardless of whether they are high-ranking officials or simply voters.

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