Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'
August 2nd, 2012
06:22 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'

(CNN) - Mitt Romney on Thursday pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's allegations that the presumptive GOP nominee has not been paying his taxes.

"It's time for Harry to put up or shut up," Romney said on Sean Hannity's radio show.

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In a Huffington Post interview published Tuesday, the leading Democrat said that an unnamed investor with Bain Capital, Romney's former private equity firm, told Reid in a phone conversation that Romney had not paid taxes for a decade.

Reid stood by the allegations on Thursday while speaking on the Senate floor.

"The word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years," he said. "Let him prove he has paid taxes because he hasn't."

Democrats and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign have repeatedly called for Romney to release more tax documents to answer any questions about his financial portfolio.

Romney has made public the full 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011, with a pledge to release the full year once it's complete. He filed an extension for an October deadline.

Critics have hit back against Reid's comments this week, faulting him for making claims based off an anonymous source.

"Harry's gonna have to describe who it is he spoke with because of course that's totally and completely wrong," Romney said Thursday in the radio interview. "It's untrue, dishonest and inaccurate. It's wrong. So I'm looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources and we'll probably find out that it's the White House."

Mirroring Romney's comments, senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom described Reid's comments as "shameful, pathetic, baseless and untrue" and argued the majority leader, with the help of the Obama campaign, was attempting to "engage in McCarthy-like accusations about Mitt Romney."

"Four years ago Barack Obama said he was going to come to Washington and change the politics. Instead the Obama campaign has turned into a bottomless pit. Every day they reach a new low," he said Thursday on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Adding on, Fehrnstrom said Romney has "never zeroed out his tax liability" and "has always paid 100% of what was owed."

After Romney's interview on Hannity's radio show, the majority leader responded in a statement and said he is not backing down from his remarks.

"As I said before, I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years. People who make as much money as Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes," he said.

Reid argued Romney is "hiding something" and called on the presumptive GOP nominee to release more taxes.

"When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it’s his obligation to put up and release several years’ worth of tax returns just like nominees of both parties have done for decades," Reid said.

According to a source familiar with Reid's thinking, the majority leader, a former boxer, considers himself a political street fighter now, willing to throw a punch and get hit back big time for a cause. In this case, the cause is making sure the topic of Romney's tax returns remains in the news, and in the campaign narrative.

The source said Reid is "happy to mix it up and put this back in the news" and added the "finger waggers of the Acela corridor won't dissuade him from speaking his mind."

Reid, the source said, is unconcerned about the hits he is taking on making unsubstantiated claims, because the Democratic base is fired up. The source says they know that anecdotally. It's not an accident that Reid said this to the Huffington Post, a friendly outlet, and did so as Romney was returning from his overseas trip.

"What happened when Romney returned? The first story he has to deal with is his tax returns," the source said.

One of Romney's biggest surrogates, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, came to Romney's defense on Thursday, saying Reid may have "gone over the line."

"I've known Sen. Reid for many, many years, and occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior," McCain said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "To accuse someone of doing something without a shred of proof–that the allegation has any substance–is really something I, frankly, don't understand."

McCain, whose 2008 presidential campaign reviewed Romney's tax records as they considered him to be the vice presidential running mate, said last month he can "personally vouch" that there was "nothing disqualifying" in the tax returns of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

On Thursday, he urged Reid to come "forward" with his source.

"I think politics are tough. I enjoy the give and take but I think Harry might have gone over the line," McCain said.

Later, while visiting a fruit stand with his mother in Florida, Ryan responded to the negative reaction in the room.

"Entitlement reform has unfortunately been made very partisan by partisans, and so I have gotten that kind of reaction and unfortunately it's what we come to expect because the politics of reforming entitlements has become very bitter and it's very unfortunate," he told reporters in Lakeland.

Also see:

– Ryan gives House GOP a 'pep talk'

– Defending Romney, McCain cites 2008 campaign trail misspeak

– Romney to ramp up campaign schedule with bus tour

– Pawlenty takes post at Financial Services Roundtable

– Letterman: No hard feelings toward Romney


Filed under: Harry Reid • Mitt Romney • Taxes
soundoff (1,080 Responses)
  1. rs

    Mr. Romney: "Put up or shut up Mr. Reid, or I'll have my chauffeur give you a good thashing!"

    August 3, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. NamePearce044

    Who cares. It's all political rhetoric, as always.

    August 3, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. jaimie

    Mr. Romney, you put up or shut up. It takes integrity and honesty to run for president. Mr. Romney, all of us pay our share of tax each month out of our pay checks. However, you refuse to divulge your offshore business dealings with the money you made and tax paid. That is dishonest. What are you hiding from the american public Mr. Romney? If you are being honest and there is no wrongdoing why then will you not produce the information? And you want to be president Mr, Romney? What are you telling the american public? We see it as you are trying to hide money you did not pay tax on. Step down Mr. Romney, you for one have shown the american tax paying people that there are those like you who DO NOT pay your tax by hiding your money elsewhere. You have no integrity and honesty.

    August 3, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. NinetyNinePercent

    I don't care if the accusation was made up or not. The fact that Romney still refuses to show his taxes and prove Reid wrong speaks volumes to me. Romney can very easily turn all of this negative tax publicity around by showing it and proving everyone wrong on the tax issue. The fact that he doesn't, to me means that he can't.

    This tax history denial to me is no different than Bush's call to invade Iraq after 9/11. Romney just wants us to "take his word for it" that what he says about his tax history is on the up and up. The WMDs that never existed. Are we to also take his word for it if he becomes president and wants to start another war against Iran with no proof? Sorry, we don't need another Bush.

    August 3, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Jules

    Hey – all of the members of the house and the senate have to make tax returns public every year they are in office. So for those of you spouting about Harry Reid releasing his tax returns – he does just like every other member of Congress.

    August 3, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. John

    Romney is hiding something he does not want us to know.

    August 3, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    Love how this accusation/lie comes out the day before the jobs report.

    Romney-2012. The only trusted way forward.

    August 3, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Tubby the Tuba Texasc

    Romney is the one who has to put up. That would shut the democrats and republicans up for good....cause some of the republicans have called for him to show his cards and be honest and upbeat like a great American.

    August 3, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Jules

    Tim, the public is not so dumb that they cannot see if Romney paid taxes or not. What was the result of the audits on his taxes? Did he have to pay more or were they just fine as submitted? There really is something to hide or he would get it out there. We already know he took a $77,000 deduction for a horse when he was running for president. What did he get tax deductions for when he wasn't.

    August 3, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Where Were You?

    Voting4Mitt: That is the job of the IRS to determine who filed what and when. if they haven't come after him then why this? Truth of the matter is that keeping up with tax laws are very complicated which is why tax preparers and tax attorney stay in business.
    ________________

    Where were you when Romney admitted that he had been audited "from time to time." These audits sometimes are triggered by things that are included/omitted on your tax return and sometimes are just routine random audits. An audit is sometimes the IRS "coming after you." The IRS cannot tell one citizen why another citizen was being audited or if it resulted in penalties assessed or whatever, and Romney's sure not going to be forthcoming on the issue. If Obama had been audited for any reason, Republicans would be screaming for his tax returns, and they know it. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

    August 3, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. truth hurts

    >snoozie – Aiden, GE is not running for POTUS.

    and the disclosure of tax returns is not a requirement of running for the office. nobody should release any of them as far as i am concerned. what romney pays is between him and the tax man. romney's been in public life or the spotlight for a while so i doubt the government hasn't looked over the returns at least once, probably more. and i'm sure romney isn't sitting at the kitchen table doing them himself. they are done by professionals. lefties are just so clueless with this lame line of attack. but what the heck, the got nothing else.

    August 3, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. YOU put up or shut up!

    Romney should be the one to put up his tax records. If he has nothing to hide – he has nothing to worry about!

    If that was a good enough answer when Bush was illegally spying on United States Citizens right here in the United States – it's certainly good enough for Mittens.

    August 3, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. paul

    Mitt Adelson who is your daddy

    August 3, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Jules

    If Romney releases his taxes and proves that Reid is making a false accusation, his numbers will definately go up. If he can't do that, then anyone would be pretty dumb to vote for him, especially when he has been on both sides of every issue – sometimes on the same day.

    August 3, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. truth hurts

    harry reid is as senile as joe biden. people actually listen to and believe these senile old goats?

    August 3, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Mitty can run be he can't hide from the tax issue. Put up or shut up Willard.

    August 3, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. eric7jdce56

    Romney is a tax evader and a crook.

    August 3, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. Satan

    One way or another, Romney will have no choice but to release a decade's-worth of tax returns. He won't get elected if he doesn't. No one, including conservatives, have any clue what this guy's plan actually is. He's proposed no tax policy...he refuses to say what loopholes he'd close or who would pay for them. The only thing Romney consistently says is "elect me and we'll work it out". No one will do that. LOL! He's still got 2 months to come up with a proposed domestic, foreign, and tax policy. He WILL NOT be elected running on the "I'm not Barak Obama" platform. Obama WILL be re-elected if Romney chooses to stay the course he's currently on. But somehow, I'm sure the conservatives will live. Liberals survived 8 years of Bush, they can just shut up and deal with 8 of Obama.

    August 3, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. Vince

    Mitt's real problem is that people just don't like him. He's a big phoney and even his own party really doesn' t trust him. McCain was a much stronger candidate and look what happened in 08. OK, the Palin choice really did him in. But it worked out great for her. She quit the job she was elected to so she could make a lot of money telling people how to be a good public servant. LOL. And the GOP uses her for their model and mouthpiece.

    August 3, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  20. rockysfan

    No Mittens, it's time for you to put up or shut up. what are you hiding? if you have nothing to hide, show us!

    August 3, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. md22mdrx

    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama
    Love how this accusation/lie comes out the day before the jobs report.

    Romney-2012. The only trusted way forward.
    -----------------–

    LOVE that lie. Go back and view the FULL clip for proper context, not the cut&paste FOX version.

    August 3, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Peggy Munro

    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama

    Taken totally out of context but as a third generation entrepreneur, I understand what that means and it is true. There are preconditions that create opportunities.

    August 3, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. SEA12

    @NinetyNinePercent

    "I don't care if the accusation was made up or not"
    Really.

    We deserve whatever we get with such lame standards of behavior. We accept such irresponsibility from politicians and, if they're in OUR party, the lies are OK. If the politician is in the "other" party, the lies are justified. It's very sad.

    August 3, 2012 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Mitt the twit is hiding the weenie. The tea potty told him to move to the right,or else. He has that deer in the headlights look again.

    August 3, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. md22mdrx

    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama
    Love how this accusation/lie comes out the day before the jobs report.

    Romney-2012. The only trusted way forward.
    ----------------

    LOVE that lie. Go back and view the FULL clip for proper context, not the cut&paste FOX version.

    August 3, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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