Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at the Christ Central Community Center in Winnsboro, S.C. on Wednesday.
WINNSBORO, SC -- Newt Gingrich said Wednesday he paid 31 percent of his income in taxes in 2010.
While continuing across the Palmetto State on his bus tour, the former House speaker told reporters he hopes to release his 2012 tax returns tomorrow, which he said he had been told would reflect the fact that he paid nearly a third of his income to the federal government.
Gingrich's statement comes amid efforts by Mitt Romney to parry attacks by his rivals in Saturday's South Carolina primary after Romney had estimated his effective tax burden at about 15 percent over the past year.
It's part of a broader effort by Gingrich and fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, to put pressure on Romney to release his tax returns immediately. The former Massachusetts governor has been reluctant to release his tax records, but has suggested he might make public his most recent returns in April should he have secured the nomination by then.
In the meanwhile, Gingrich has used Romney's words yesterday to needle the frontrunner in the South Carolina primary, a contest which Gingrich has transformed into somewhat of a last stand for conservatives looking to halt Romney's march to the GOP nomination.
“We are going to name our flat tax the Mitt Romney 15 percent flat tax,” Gingrich told the roughly 150-person crowd today. "My goal is not to raise Mitt Romney's taxes, but to let everyone pay Romney's rate."
This back-and-forth between Gingrich and Romney is just one of a number of heated topics between the two campaigns. Gingrich has been especially eager, too, to highlight Romney's private sector record at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he helped found and which led to most of his wealth.
Gingrich seems to be gaining momentum in South Carolina with just three days until the state primary and the Romney campaign is taking the threat to sealing up a sweep of the early nominating states seriously.
In response to the former speaker's push, Team Romney has begun responding, labeling the former Speaker as an “unreliable leader," and holding a press conference call with campaign advisers, creating a new website, and releasing a new web ad.
“I mean where do they get the gall to run these kinds of an ad?” Gingrich told reporters after being informed of the new Romney campaign ad that says he helped re-elect a Democrat. “Maybe they’re bored. Maybe they have excess money. Maybe they want to throw the kitchen sink.”
The speaker is staking his campaign on the primary Jan. 21 and wants conservatives to rally around him as he believes he is the only candidate who can beat Romney.
“I am trying to get every conservative voter in this state to decide, while they may like somebody else, that historically we need to get the vote for Gingrich,” the Speaker said, noting that it would be “helpful” if either Perry or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the race.
South Carolina voters will cast their ballots Saturday.