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. SurRy

    Williard "Mitt" Romney did not release his tax returns when he ran for Gov of Mass. either. He said he would release them if elected, After the election the returns proved he was not a citizen of Mass. for the legally prescribed time. He tax return said he lived in Utah. He used the same "retroactive" argument about his residence status then. This P O S has never played by the rules as they don't apply to him. So the election fraud we hear about is perpetrated yet again by a republican.

    August 3, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. nomorekoolaid

    Wow, it is just amazing to watch the Obama Campaign's approach to this election. They have clearly decided to just throw everything out there that they possibly can, with no concern whatsoever about truth or ethics. With this approach, you distract at least some on-the-fence, maybe less discerning voters, and if even 10% of it SEEMS believable, you have destroyed the opposition's chances. Obama is doing exacltly what he accused opponents of doing in 2008.. In his Convention Speech, he said..."If You Don't Have a Record To Run On, Then You Paint Your Opponent as Someone People Should Run From". Classic. It is a disgrace.

    August 3, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. kman821

    As a LIBERAL I totally agree with Romney ... now Romney just needs to put up his tax returns for the past 12 years or simply shut the F up!

    August 3, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. J Po

    harry reid is a joke.....uses the senate floor to spread a fabricated rumor. romney has been in the public eye for over 10 years, don't you think if he hadn't paid taxes that someone (not to mention IRS) would have discovered this little tid bit of info? come one people, lets get serious. there are important economic and global issues to be discussing. harry reid hasn't done one darn thing in his years of nesting in dc.

    August 3, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Brian Dodge

    "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."

    You mean like how the Republicans accused Obama of being foreign born (and many still do), and he finally released his long form birth certificate? Obama put up to shut up the false allegations about him; it's time for Romney to put up his tax returns, to shut up the allegations that he didn't pay taxes. Until he puts up, I'll assume the allegations are true – the same way Republicans assumed Obama was foreign born. Any Republican that objects is a lying hypocrite.

    August 3, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. nomorekoolaid

    Who Said?

    'If You Don't Have a Record To Run On, Then You Paint Your Opponent as Someone People Should Run From'

    That was Obama in his 2008 convention speech. Now that is all he is doing. It is shameful. Just bombard the public with as much crap as you can about your opponent, and don't be concerned with the truth. If even 10% of it seems believeable to the undecided voters, then you win the election. What a disgrace !!!!

    August 3, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. Rob G

    Last time I check this was the USA and the burden of proof lies with the accuser.

    August 3, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. Kev52

    How can Romney say with such confidence that Reid is lying and he (Romney) did pay taxes? He was recently interviewed by ABC News, asked whether he ever paid a tax rate lower than 13.9%, and Romney said he didn't know, that he had to go back and check. If he doesn't even know his rate, he can't say that he did pay taxes because the rate could have been 0%, but he wouldn't know that through his admission. It sounds like he has a group of people who does his taxes for him and tell him to send his money to other countries so he's free of taxes. Romney is making himself look like a horrible presidential candidate by not being able to handle campaigning. If he can't organize his own campaign, how will he organize his administration to control a whole country?

    August 3, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. obamas the village idiot

    500 billion in new debt, solendra, cut our millitary power in half, turned his back on our allys, no new jobs...and never once submitted a budget because he believes hes above the law!!! Anybody would be better...all that was done when he had to worry about getting re elected wait and see the crap he does when that monkey is off his back... you might be a socialist if... heres your sign

    August 3, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Tom

    He's hiding something – even his father released more years of tax returns. That boy ain't right.

    August 3, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. GOP scam

    Put us or shut up Willard. Take your own advice!

    August 3, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. M-W-T

    All Mr. Romney has to do is release his tax forms
    If there's nothing there.....What's to worry about.....
    BUT, There has got to be something......What's he worried about?????
    MITT ROMNEY-The WORST REPUBLICAN IN THE COUNTRY
    A Republican said that....So it must be TRUE!!!!! RIGHT!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. Moderate Sean

    "SEA12

    @Moderate Sean

    Hmm . . . so the "court of public opinion" takes here-say, lies, and made up allegations as fact?? That's a
    pretty embarrassing justification for smearing Mitt Romney. Can you do better?"

    Sea12, you and your rightwing thugs do it this all the time. It's okay for Tea Party members to make unjustified accusations against the President for example, or just throw out all types of innuendo, buttt, that is okay. If a Democrat, non-right leaning independent, or even a moderate Republican do it, you call it "emabarassing justification for smearing [Robmey]". Sea12, you cannot have it both ways....and the American public unfornuately believe a lot of what is said out there without researching for any accuracy. On both sides of the issue(s) mind you.

    I feel the way I do about Romney, because – Romney, the candidate, has run a very poor campaign thus far! He and his aides have been prone to a number of large gaffes; mistakes; personal insults of fellow Republican candidates, the President along with other Democrats; and now even some of our close allies, such as the British, not too mention insulting the Palestinians – a non-ally – at a time of delicate relations in the Middle East. He takes too much for granted; he expects to become President, because he views it as "his turn/time". He is a political bully, who loves to attack others who differ with him, but cannot accept similar attacks when it is in the converse. He comes across as stiff, fake, and indifferent to those beneath him economically or socially. I am open to various candidates, but not one who seems to be as secrative as this candidate is....he says he will fix this or that when he becomes President, but provides very little substance or plans on how this will get accomplished. When he is asked to provide examples or some type of proof, he just indicates that "we' have to wait till he is elected first. That is not how the political system works. Voting is an important responsibility, that I take very serious!! I cannot in good conscious vote for someone who won't share with the American people who is he and what he truly stands for.....one day it issue A, but then two days later issue A is no longer important or what he believes in.....he reminds me too much of a slinky! This election, President Obama will proudly get my vote, like him (Or it) or not!!

    August 3, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. Whats TheDifference

    This is exactly the same when the Republicans insisted that President Obama release his birth certificate.. If Romney has nothing to hide then why not release his tax returns??

    August 3, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. obamas the village idiot

    surRy
    haha youre an idiot... barry cant even prove he was born here without a halfassed short form birth cert that has as many holes as swiss cheese...but your concerned about mitts residency??? what a fool....

    August 3, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. John

    Just release your taxes

    August 3, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Willard

    I think we will find out about his tax returns from some reporter just before election day. This way Willard can spend all those milions, and then go home with his tail betwen his legs, where he belongs!

    August 3, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Donald in CA

    Romney is the one who should put up. Some thing sinister is going on here. If he cant be trusted with his taxes why should we trust him with the country.

    August 3, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  19. Name

    This is simple. I might regret Harry Reis quoting an unnamed source, but his point is the senate would ask for tax records to confirm a cabinet member or a federal judge.
    Aren't we all weary of Roney's misdirection??
    Also after the whitewater debacle.. How does a Republican say with a straight face that taxes are not the business of the electorate??

    August 3, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Grumpster

    Mitt..put up your taxes or shut up.

    August 3, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @nomorekoolaid
    Wow, it is just amazing to watch the Obama Campaign's approach to this election. They have clearly decided to just throw everything out there that they possibly can, with no concern whatsoever about truth or ethics. With this approach, you distract at least some on-the-fence, maybe less discerning voters, and if even 10% of it SEEMS believable, you have destroyed the opposition's chances. Obama is doing exacltly what he accused opponents of doing in 2008.. In his Convention Speech, he said..."If You Don't Have a Record To Run On, Then You Paint Your Opponent as Someone People Should Run From". Classic. It is a disgrace.

    August 3, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
    *****************************************************************************************************************************

    You don't get it, either. If you notice, Obama is not saying a word about the taxes issues directly–his surrogates, campaign staff, et. al., are. And, yes, they represent his campaign. We get that. What Romney is doing is addressing the attacks DIRECTLY! That is mistake number one. Look, if a CEO of a company that's in trouble is doing all the defending as opposed to the company's attorneys, then, the perception is that something's awry. Mitt is being a moron. He should let his surrogates handle this for him. Otherwise, he looks like a schmuck who can't play in the big leagues.

    Alas, there is only one way he will make this distraction go away: releasing the tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Ivan

    Those who are claiming that the law doesn't require Romney to release his Tax Returns, I have also to say that there is no law which requires Romney to travel overseas. He took the trip to show people that he can manage at the International level. He can also show his Tax Returns to prove that he payed tax like any other citizen did.

    August 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Ann

    The GOP is getting a dose of their own medicine. Finally a Democrat who won't lay down and play dead for these Rethugs and they don't know how to handle it. Remember the Swift Boating of John Kerry or most recently their propaganda and nonsence that the President was not born in America? The should be able to take as much as they give and "shut up".

    August 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Jon

    I just read Obama's story about jobs ... I was impressed. Here is a man, who wants to be rehired for his job and his whole premise is ... "We are almost as bad as it was when I took office. In a few months we could even be better."

    What? He has almost recovered as many jobs during his adminstration as he lost during his adminstration ... now that breed confidence.

    Based upon those comments ... could we really be so luck to be as bad off in another 4 years ... and if we are is that somethign to celebrate ... NO WAY ... Romney 2012

    August 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  25. Jim Hahn

    Romney should fess up or shut up. Until he can prove that he actually paid taxes, he going to get it and get it hard from those of us who believe he is hiding something.

    August 3, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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