Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'
August 2nd, 2012
06:22 PM ET
10 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. Greg

    So what was owed and what was audited Mittens?

    August 2, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  2. captainfantastic

    sure seems there is a heck of a simple way to solve this Mitt....

    August 2, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. California Gary

    It will be easy to shut him up Mitt.......just release the returns.

    August 2, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Jeff In Oregon

    What are you hiding Mitt? Can vote for a leader of our country unless he or she is open and transparent. Just can't.

    August 2, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. Jeff In Oregon

    I should have typed, I can't vote for a leader of our country unless he or she is open and transparent.

    August 2, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  6. gg

    Yep! I think Harry Reid is telling the truth otherwise show me the proof Mitt.

    August 2, 2012 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. ha

    So why dont he realese it /???????

    August 2, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Siara

    seriously? Reid is not the one who needs to put up or shut up. Stop playing around and show us your tax returns, Mr. Romney.

    August 2, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. stars

    Hey Mr. Robme he dont have to prove anything he is not running for potus. So you need to put up or get out of the race. Because we want to know about you and if you have been ripping us peon off all these years.

    August 2, 2012 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Bootstomper

    You release your taxes mitt or you shut up.

    August 2, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. Jim, San Antonio

    All Romney has to do is release his tax forms. Then we'll all know who's the liar!

    August 2, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. Angel

    Prove your innocence Romney! Prove to the American people that these allegations of you not paying income taxes for ten years are false. Show us your tax returns!

    August 2, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. John N Florida

    It's probably a former McCain aide who saw the Romney Tax Returns during the '08 campaign.

    August 2, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  14. jane


    August 2, 2012 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    Romney can settle this quickly by releasing his tax returns, unless he is hiding something.

    August 2, 2012 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  16. Desmond, a Canadian

    Not very smart of Reid to make the allegation without certainty. Not very smart of Rawmoney to not show his tax returns, if he says Reid is wrong!

    August 2, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. Craig

    Release your tax returns Mitt and clear all this up. It is really simple.

    August 2, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Gary Johnson

    We'll trade Reid some tax records for Obama birth records...fair trade...?

    August 2, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. DJ

    It is so obvious what Reid is attempting to do, this ploy will not work.

    August 2, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. Drake Jones

    Romney to Reid: Put up or shut up? I think the shoe is on the wrong foot, Governor!

    August 2, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. Tuco_bad

    Romney earned a compounded rate of return of at least 50% per year, over 30 years, on his IRA.

    August 2, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  22. Me

    If didn't pay any taxes, I guess makes him part of the 50% as compared to the 1%

    August 2, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  23. Factchecker

    Finally – someone puts Dingy Harry in his place.

    August 2, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. RPM

    Come on Nevada, is this the best guy for the job out there?

    August 2, 2012 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  25. Trayvon Martin

    Romney should tell Reid he will release his tax records when obama releases his birth cert and school transcripts

    August 2, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
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