WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, at a surprise news conference Monday, called on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to release more years of his tax returns, linking the disclosure to the debate over tax reform.
"I think that is what the American people would rightly expect, is a sense that particularly when we're going to be having a huge debate about how we reform our tax code and how we pay for the government that we need, I think people want to know that everybody's been playing by the same rules, including people who are seeking the highest office in the land," Obama said.
"This is not an entitlement, being president of the United States," he continued. "This is a privilege and we've got to put ourselves before the American people to make our case."
Later in the briefing, Obama clarified that his use of the phrase "playing by the same rules" was not meant to accuse Romney of doing anything illegal. "There's a difference between playing by the same set of rules and doing something illegal. In no way have we suggested the latter," he said.
"I'm not asking to disclose every detail of his medical records, although we normally do that as well," he said to laughs. "This isn't overly personal here, guys. This pretty standard stuff. I do not think we are being mean to ask him to do what every other presidential candidate has done."
The Romney campaign did not return a request for comment on the president's remarks.
Mitt Romney has steadfastly refused to release more than his (likely incomplete) 2010 tax return and his 2011 return, which the campaign plans to release before Oct. 15, according to a Romney adviser.
"There's going to be no more tax releases given," Ann Romney said Wednesday.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have each released 12 years of tax returns. Since 1980, only Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released just two years of tax returns, while all other major party candidates have released at least five.