President Barack Obama's campaign offered his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, a deal yesterday: if he releases five years of tax returns, the Obama team won't criticise him for not releasing any more.
The answer came quickly: No. Mr Romney, a multimillionaire, has been under pressure to show how much he pays in taxes as economic issues dominate a tight race towards the November election. Releasing several years of returns has become standard in recent presidential elections, but Mr Romney has said his critics would distort the tax information and use it against him.
In a letter to his Republican counterpart, Mr Obama's campaign manager said the offer was made because Mr Romney "apparently fears the more [information] he offers, the more our campaign will demand".
Matt Rhoades, the Romney campaign manager, said: "It is clear that President Obama wants nothing more than to talk about Governor Romney's tax returns instead of the issues that matter to voters."
Led by Mr Obama, the Democrats are also going after Mr Romney for seeking to protect tax cuts for the wealthy, in the hope of luring support from middle-class voters.
Mr Romney released his 2010 taxes and plans to release his 2011 returns, but the Obama campaign wants him to provide three more years of returns. Mr Obama's campaign has questioned whether there are years when Mr Romney paid no taxes. The Republican candidate said on Thursday he had paid at least 13 per cent of his income in federal taxes every year for the past decade.