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.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. djdjdjs

    I only want to see 3 of his tax returns. The 3 years after he "left" bain.

    The 3 years he said he wasn't employed by them.

    August 3, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. John

    It would be funny to see Mitt take a swing at Reid (who was a semi-professional boxer)............big mistake!........

    August 3, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. eric

    Mitt, if you're not hiding anything then release your taxes. Your dad did – 12 years worth.

    August 3, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. Bohicanow54

    Harry Reid needs to be fired from the Senate. He has done nothing for the American people. People of Nevada, you have some explaing to do how you keep putting his back side back in the Senate Three years now without a budget and he just blows it off. Well, Harry, post your last 10 tax returns for whatever good they may do........heck in 48 hours we knew more about the idiot that shot all those people in CO than we know about Obama now. Posting tax returns is a bunch of bull, it proves nothing of anything people don't already know, Romney has money, heck so did FDR, Kennedy, and John Kerry. There is no politician in Washington in the middle class, they all got some money. So Uncle Harry – Sit Down and Shut Up. Do something like pass a budget...........

    August 3, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Gay marriage

    I'd like to see Romney and Reid get married.

    August 3, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. rapierpoint

    John, I'd have to say that you can tell which side is the losing side by which one resorts to unsubstantiated and nebulous allegations. Reminds me of McCarthy and his list that he wouldn't show anyone.

    August 3, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Chuck

    And what if he does put up? He will regret he made that remark. What is the big deal. Just release them. No one cares if you made a zillion dollars. The fact that you don't want to reveal them shows you are hiding something.

    August 3, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. robert

    Reid is the loer in this one,no facts, sinking low to she said , he said.the head of the US Sen. stooping this low . lets get this elec over with and move on

    August 3, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Obama/Biden – 2012 – Slightly Better than the Great Depression

    Anybody happen to see that unemployment rose to 8.3% and the USA didn't create enough jobs to keep our head above water? Anybody care about all the unemployed peope that recently graduated? Or those that cant find a job for months or years?? Didin;t think so.... it is the Obama Smoke and Mirror Show that has blinded you.

    August 3, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. brrryce

    LOL. Hey, Harry. Tell 'em you'll name the source when they bring out the returns. Is it me or wouldn't that be the simple answer to this? Don't call Harry a liar, MAKE him a liar. LOL. I am LOVING this. Romney won't talk about Bain, won't talk about Romneycare, won't provide a fuller slate of returns, but asks Harry to "Put up or shut up!" L M A O! Mitt, you do know that you're doing the "shut up" part already? All the while ignoring the "Put up" part. So, I'm guessing Harry is no more inclined to put up than you are. Ah, Mittens, you are endlessly amusing.

    August 3, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. sassysticks53

    If a member of the media raised unsubstantiated claims such as Reid's . . . oh, that's right. Nevermind.

    ------------------------

    Some folks have no trouble at all raising unsubstantiated claims that Pres. Obama was not born in the United States .... Oh well. Deal with it.

    August 3, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. RandyKC

    Romney,
    Show us or ship out.

    August 3, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Nametjohnson

    Just shut up and show us your taxes.....

    August 3, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Lily

    What astonishes me is: McCain hasn't said that he got problem to receive Tax Returns from Romney when he asked him to do so in 2008. How come now Romney is refusing to release them when he is seeking the higher position!

    August 3, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Canuck

    @nomorekoolaid
    "They have clearly decided to just throw everything out there that they possibly can, with no concern whatsoever about truth or ethics."

    Does the term 'swiftboating' bring back any memories for you???

    August 3, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. MODERATIONPLZ

    All the way to the election the Dems are going to be bashing Romney with his Tax returns. And, it is very apparent whatever is in those returns the Romney campaign feels will critically hurt his chance of becoming President. He has the choice of two evils: look like he is hiding something bad or prove to the Country he is hiding something bad. Whatever Romney chooses to do, he is damaged.

    August 3, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. ronald raygun

    something is not right about mitt.

    August 3, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. IndeePendant

    It's not only Reid but may of the republican sources have wondered whether romney paid taxes during some of the years in the past decade. A guy who has shamelessly taken write-0ff on horse by showing health reasons, but at the same time looking to make money thru olympics display, is capable of finding every loophole in the tax system to avoid paying his share of taxes and stowing money in offshore bank accounts. Romney's tax details will help this country to identify examples by which the rich of the country avoid paying taxes. We can find the loop holes and fix them to ensure that middle-class is not paying to make up the difference.

    August 3, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. sassysticks53

    Harry Reid needs to be fired from the Senate. He has done nothing for the American people. People of Nevada, you have some explaing to do how you keep putting his back side back in the Senate Three years now without a budget and he just blows it off. Well, Harry, post your last 10 tax returns for whatever good they may do........heck in 48 hours we knew more about the idiot that shot all those people in CO than we know about Obama now. Posting tax returns is a bunch of bull, it proves nothing of anything people don't already know, Romney has money, heck so did FDR, Kennedy, and John Kerry. There is no politician in Washington in the middle class, they all got some money. So Uncle Harry – Sit Down and Shut Up. Do something like pass a budget...........
    -----------------------------

    LOL! Doesn't matter. Robme will lose in November. Politician's may all have some money, but I wonder how many of them have offshore bank accounts in various countries throughout the world so that they can avoid paying income taxes? What you may or may not know about Obama will never be enough for you. You're a bigot who hates this black President and there's nothing Obama can do about people like you but laugh at you. You're delusional and only fooling yourself. I don't want a rich, greedy President who hates the middle class and poor people and only cares about rich people like himself.

    MITT ROMNEY – BAD FOR AMERICA

    August 3, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. Name

    Flopney said it himself," they'll only want more (ammo) to use against me"
    Problem is his tax info is, live ammo and not blanks,it would kill his White House hopes and he knows that

    August 3, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Wake up people

    Show us the taxes Willard, you GOP/baggers were salivating at the mouth at the prospect of President Obama not being born in the US. Everyone else has done it. What are you hiding? And does he think this secrecy is going to help him? The longer he stalls, the better my chances of never having to lay eyes on him or his let them eat cake wife again.

    All the people making excuses for him. Where were you when President Obama was being accused of not being a citizen? I think finding out if the potential POTUS is a liar and cheater is s lot more important than a lousy birth certificate.

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 3, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  22. SokrMom

    Ooooh, Romney takes the gloves off... It's just what the focus group recommended!

    August 3, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. Iconoclast

    Harry Reid did the right thing. His comments were intended to put the ball in Romney's court and prove otherwise or suffer the speculation of the press and American people. Romney has chosen to accept the speculation by refusing to release returns so he shouldn't complain as the allegations fill the void. BTW, I'm certain Harry does know what he's talking about and no he shouldn't release the informant's name, at this point it's up to Romney to prove otherwise and, of course, he can't!

    August 3, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. sassysticks53

    @nomorekoolaid
    "They have clearly decided to just throw everything out there that they possibly can, with no concern whatsoever about truth or ethics."

    Does the term 'swiftboating' bring back any memories for you???
    --------------------------–

    Don't forget about the birther clowns too!

    August 3, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. Klancy Schmertz

    It is pretty clear Romney has something to hide.
    The presidency is so important that the effort should have been made to have the 2011 tax return filed by April 15, like all the people he wants to represent. You and I would, unless we had something to hide.
    As far as previous years, well, where there's smoke, there's fire.

    August 3, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44