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NBC's Morales Demands Ann Romney be 'Transparent' And Release More Tax Returns

In what was billed as a profile of Ann Romney set to air on Thursday's NBC Rock Center, a portion of the interview played on Thursday's Today featured news anchor Natalie Morales grilling the Republican candidate's spouse on taxes: "...she fiercely defended the Romneys' decision not to release tax returns from before 2010. A lot of people still are asking why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011." [Listen to the audio]

Romney responded forcefully: "Have you seen how we're attacked? Have you seen what's happened?" Morales continued to press the issue: "It's been in the press quite a bit. Now are you angry that it's been in the press? I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?" Romney pushed back: "We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But, the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed."

Concluding her response, Romney reiterated: "The only reason we don't disclose anymore is, you know, we'd just become a bigger target." Morales replied: "So it's because you'll just continue to face more questions?" Romney added: "It'll just give them more ammunition."

Morales completely ignored Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's sleazy and baseless accusation on the Senate floor that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes.

In the next part of the exchange, Morales urged Romney to compliment the Obama family: "Clearly the campaign has gotten to be so negative on both sides. Is there a positive that you see in President Obama and the First Lady?" Romney described how she admired Michelle Obama for taking on the obesity issue and the First Family being a "role model" for others.

Apparently that wasn't enough Obama praise for Morales, who requested more: "What about President Obama? What can you say, a positive that we don't often hear?"

Here is a full transcript of the August 16 Today segment:

7:17AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We've heard a lot this week about Mitt Romney's new running mate Paul Ryan, but of course his real running mate is his wife, Ann. Natalie sat down with her for a wide-ranging interview as she traced her roots to the Welsh village where her father was born.

NATALIE MORALES: Like the hard-scrabble coal country of southern Wales, shrouded in low clouds and mist, I found how Ann Romney's well-to-do image has obscured her inner toughness, a grit that might rival her coal-mining forebears.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "No More Tax Releases"; Rock Center: Ann Romney Defends Controversial Decision]

And in our interview at an 800-year-old Welsh inn, she fiercely defended the Romneys' decision not to release tax returns from before 2010. A lot of people still are asking why not be transparent and release more than the 2010 and the estimates for 2011.

ANN ROMNEY: Have you seen how we're attacked? Have you seen what's happened?

MORALES: It's been in the press quite a bit. Now are you angry that it's been in the press? I mean, should you not be questioned about your finances?

ROMNEY: We have been very transparent to what's legally required of us. But, the more we release, the more we get attacked. The more we get questioned, the more we get pushed. And so we have done what's legally required and there's going to be no more – there's going to be no more tax releases given. And there's a reason for that, and that's because of how – what happens as soon as we release anything. Mitt's financial disclosures when he was governor are huge, if people want to really look and see any question they have. The other thing they have to understand is that Mitt is honest, his integrity is just golden. We pay our taxes, we're absolutely – beyond paying our taxes, we also give 10% of our income to charity. So, you know, we have no issues that way. And the only reason we don't disclose anymore is, you know, we'd just become a bigger target.

MORALES: So it's because you'll just continue to face more questions?

ROMNEY: That – well, just – it'll just give them more ammunition.

ROMNEY [PETTING A PONY]: You're so pretty, Magic.

MORALES: Yet I also saw a surprisingly playful side to the 63-year-old would-be first lady. Her affinity for animals, well actually, animals' affinity for her, was obvious when we happened upon a Welsh pony. She feels it too.

ROMNEY: Hi, sweetheart.

MORALES: And it was also a bit of a surprise to hear some rare kind words between the rival camps of campaign 2012. Clearly the campaign has gotten to be so negative on both sides. Is there a positive that you see in President Obama and the First Lady?

ROMNEY: You know, I love how family-oriented they are. I think her initiative is wonderful. I think obesity is a huge, you know, problem in this country and it's great to see her caring about that. But to also see the role model of a strong mom and a dad and two darling little girls. You know, I love seeing that.

MORALES: What about President Obama? What can you say, a positive that we don't often hear?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, I think all of us are so proud that America backed him and I think that piece of it is never going to go away, that America is a place where anything is possible and anyone can dream whatever they want and anyone can accomplish anything they want. And he is the embodiment of that. And I think it's a thrill for all of us to have him as a president.

MORALES: Mrs. Romney also talked very candidly to Natalie about her own diagnosis with MS. You can see the full interview on Rock Center with Brian Williams, tonight at 10/9 Central, right here on NBC.