The contortions that spokespersons for Donald Trump have to go through in order to explain away his controversial statements can be quite comical in the way that they brutalize language. For example, Katrina Pierson, when questioned by Fox News about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, called the practice of presidential candidates releasing their tax returns a ‘novelty tradition’. Even the Fox News host seemed bemused by calling something that had been going on since the 1970s a novelty.
“Here’s the thing,” the Fox News host continued. “The reason why the voters like Mr. Trump is because he is a successful businessman. They think that he can do the same for the business of this country: Create jobs, get the economy back on track. So, that is why they want to see his tax returns. Why won’t he show them? Put the proof in the pudding.”
Pierson suggested that the media was trying to “bully” Trump into showing his tax returns.
This tax return issues is a turnaround for Trump. Recall how he was one of the most energetic birthers, hounding president Obama incessantly until the so-called long form birth certificate was released though that did not, of course, end the chatter in the fever swamps that Obama had not been born in the US. Now Trump is on the receiving end of incessant calls to do something that is within his power to do. You can be sure that the question of releasing his tax returns will continue to hound him and be asked at the debates as well. Will he succumb to the pressure and release them? I doubt it because he seems to clearly think that doing so will hurt more than help.
The more important question is whether his refusal will hurt his support. It will not among his core supporters but it may harm him among lukewarm or potential supporters. While the size of the group influenced by this may not be large, when you add the small numbers disaffected by his stances on other issues, they can add up. A few here, a few there, pretty soon you are talking serious numbers.