msnbc | September 22, 2012
>>> new today, republican presidential candidate mitt romney is in california for fundraising events in hopes of regaining the lead in the all-important campaign cash category. taking center stage , more questions from last night's release of his 2011 income tax returns . nbc's peter alexander is in san francisco traveling with mitt romney . an early good morning. bring us up to speed on what we can expect on the trail today?
>> reporter: thomas, the romney campaign insists that its friday document dump , as we in the business refer to this, put out the tax returns on a friday where fewer people were paying attention, is not politically motivated. they say it was done that day because they were done. nonetheless, they're trying to put to bed the issue that they fear could raise more nasty headlines as we get closer to the election. now barely six weeks away, and every day is critical for a campaign that acknowledges it's been spending too much time on the defensive when it needs to go on offense against the president. the attack recently that mitt romney has been using is attacking the president, saying he has failed to deliver that hope and change that he promised. pouncing on words that we used in a univirgz forum this week. as for the tax returns , they indicate that the romneys paid roughly $2 million in federal income taxes in 2011 on nearly $14 million in income, largely from investments for a total tax rate of about 14.1%. to give you a sense, the average middle-class family, say you make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, would pay roughly 13%. thomas?
>> is there a real concern as they head toward the debate? over the summer from abc news, we have that interview with mitt romney sitting down where he was asked about his taxes. he said if -- if i overpay my taxes, i'm not qualified to be president. he gave the statement where he said that he has effectively paid at 13%. and now he's come out paying roughly 14.1% at a tax rate . he's -- he's overpaid for the income that he's taken in. he hasn't worked since the late '90s. the income he's made off of his investments.
>> reporter: you're right. the jist is that he said americans shouldn't vote for anybody, they wouldn't be qualified to be president if they paid the government more than they owed. he did pay more than he owed. he didn't write off, didn't take deduction, almost $2 million that he would have entitled to. they jackpacknowledged that because he wanted to keep another campaign pledge, which is that he never paid under 13% in the last ten years. so they argue that, hey, you know what, he is doing a good deed. he's given a lot of money to charity, worth noting, he gave $4 million to charity in 2011 . $3 million of it to the mormon church . and frankly, they hope to put this to bed. obviously their opponents are going to try to continue to stir it up going forward.
>> here's the thing, though. if you are posting your tax releases and having your tax accountant do this work to match up the 13%, why not get them to match up the 13%? why come -- why come in at 14.1%? again, this is about the charitable donations where he gave $4 million in charitable donations which was certainly -- that's awesome. but they only took 2.2 -- right? 2.25 in tax --
>> reporter: about that. yeah. to be honest with you, this are about more than 1,000 page of documents that landed on most of our laps yesterday. not all of which i can memorize in complete detail --
>> what? you didn't memorize these?
>> reporter: the jist is -- hey, it's 6:00 in the morning. by 7:00, i will have this down pat, i guarantee. is it already 7:00? i can't see straight --
>> 7:21. we'll give you plenty of time. you're three hours behind us.
>> reporter: 7:21? i appreciate it. we'll get a for in after we finish chatting. i think their jist is they hope they can put to bed the one -- the worst series of the week. from egypt and libya to the poll numbers increasingly showing romney behind, down % according to the -- 8% according to the latest nbc news/maris poll. and of course the release of the hidden video tape that even folks within the campaign -- an adviser close to the campaign said, that threw us off. it was an unforced error, as they describe it. a self-inflicted wound. they're hoping they can kind of dump everything out in one week and focus on their economic message and get back on offense going forward.
>> peter alexander with the romney campaign in san francisco . thanks, buddy. appreciate it.