MINNETONKA BEACH, Minn. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that most big businesses in the U.S. are "doing fine" and attributed their success in part to savings they get by keeping money in "low tax havens around the world."
Romney's assertions resembled President Barack Obama's declaration earlier this summer that the "private sector is doing fine." Republicans, including Romney, pounced on the president's comments and cast them as an indication that he was out of touch with the nation's economic struggles.
Romney, speaking to donors at a campaign fundraiser near Minneapolis, drew a distinction between big business and small businesses. He said that, if elected, he would seek to make it easier for small businesses to succeed.
"Big business is doing fine in many places," Romney said. "They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses."
Following Romney's comments, his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the candidate "has long said we need to simplify the tax code, close loopholes and create a more level playing field for American businesses."
Romney didn't mention that he has kept some of his personal fortune in offshore tax havens, including accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. The extent of Romney's offshore investments is unclear, however, because the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has only released his 2010 personal tax returns.
Romney's campaign says he plans to release his 2011 returns later this year when the documents are ready. Romney has said he paid at least 13 percent of his income in taxes over the past 10 years.
Obama and his surrogates have said Romney has a responsibility to give the public a fuller picture of his finances. They often cite the dozen years of tax returns Romney's father, George Romney, released during his presidential campaign as a standard for candidates.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said last week that if Romney released five years of returns, the president's team would stop asking for more information. Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades refused the offer.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC