WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mitt Romney's announcement that he would, on Tuesday, release one year's worth of tax returns with estimates for 2011 was greeted favorably by Newt Gingrich.
"I think that's a very good thing he is doing," the former House speaker told "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "And I commend him for it. I think it is exactly the right thing to do and as far as I'm concerned that particular issue is now set aside and we can go on and talk about other bigger and more important things."
There's a reason Gingrich may be so willing to move on from an issue that proved so damaging to Romney in South Carolina: he's already got another transparency-related attack.
At two separate points on Sunday, Gingrich criticized the former Massachusetts governor for scrubbing computer records after leaving the statehouse.
"The governor is trying really hard to avoid answering anything," Gingrich told "Meet the Press." "On Romneycare, for example, the news reports are that they cleansed every single computer. We have no real record of how they developed it. And we have no real understanding of the overlap between his advisers and Obama's advisers, although President Obama says they are the same people."
On CNN's "State of the Union," Gingrich trotted out the same line.
"Here's a governor whose staff erased all of the computers for Romneycare," Gingrich said. "He's released no information on how they developed Romneycare."
Going after Romney for scrubbed computer records may be more effective than hitting him on his failure to disclose his tax returns. After all, Romney can neutralize the latter (release the tax returns), but not the former (those records are gone). And, as Gingrich demonstrated on Sunday, you can use the computer issue to raise questions about any portion of Romney's record from Massachusetts.
There is no indication, for example, that Romney had his staff scrub digital records to hide how he came about developing Romneycare. But Gingrich insinuated as much on Sunday.
Romney's defense of his action is that he did something neither illegal or unusual. Governors in the past have declined to submit electronic records for historical archives. And if he had decided to disclose those documents, it would have served only as fodder for attacks against him. This may be true, (and PolitiFact said as much) but it still lends itself to attack.
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