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. GOP Hate America

    hmmmm so Romney is demanding Reid reveal his sources yet Romney wont reveal his tax returns? Funny how that works.

    August 3, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  2. Bob

    "I've known Sen. Reid for many, many years, and occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior," McCain

    Wow... coming from a guy KNOWN for "erratic behaviour" this is truly funny!

    August 3, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Michael

    I don't really care how much Romney paid in taxes, how many jobs did he create or save? Why does Obama want to tax to death sucessfull job creators? Name one Obama employee who worked for an Obama company!

    August 3, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. DefendComSen

    I see the moderator is allowing only anti-Romney comments through the filter today. I knew America wasn't this blind and one-sided. Enjoy!

    August 3, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. jim

    Reid would not tell a Lie –Mitt Romney will but .
    he has paid it is call sail tax on what he buy's and that is ALL he paid.

    August 3, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. springthecat

    Let's see em...sources and tax returns. Why all the secrets? Weasels all

    August 3, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. Dlaw

    Hey CNN, why don't you run the story as "Romney Accused of Not Paying Taxes For Ten Years," instead of making it sounds like Romney took some brave stance by telling off a Democrat? And why not actually run the story at the top of the page? Don't the American people deserve to know if this is true or not BEFORE we vote? Please stop coddling politicians on both sides and start doing a little actual reporting. Thanks!

    August 3, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. fastrack1

    McCain accused Reid of "erratic behavior"? Really? Hmmm. Hey MittBott: if you want Harry to shut up, produce back tax returns. If you have nothing to hide, why not prove it? Seems simple; if you put up, Harry shuts up and his 'source' is no longer reliable.

    August 3, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  9. george of the jungle

    all he has to do is show his returns. They sure keepth after the president over his birth certificate. I think this is a bigger deal. Is he honest or is he milking the system. Show us mittens!. Forward 2012

    August 3, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  10. tenthouonthetable

    10,000 Americans willing to give a buck each. Bet Mitt 10,000 grand to put it on the table and show us what he has paid in the past ten years, if he is telling the truth we are out a buck. Put Up or Shut UP, Mitt Romney.

    August 3, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. angelo

    Release your tax returns Mitt and let us judge if you are an honest person or not. You say you have enough courage to be the Commander in Chief – sending young men and women into battle–as long as it is not your children. So Mitt, put up or shut up if your not willing to send your children or friends into battle.

    August 3, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. NSam

    What is the matter Mitt the flipper ? Come'on. What are you scared of ? If you have been a honest patriotic American who paid your taxes and want to be the President of this country, just show your tax returns and you can shut Harry Reids mouth shut on this issue. All you have done is dodging the issue.

    August 3, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. David2599

    You democrats crack me up.... You can't even see things in a unbiased light... Mitt Romney has produced his FULL tax return for 2010 and when 2011 is finished he will produce that in full as well..... But you DRONES fail to even acknowledge that something as simple as COLLEGE GRADES should be made public which OBAMA has managed to HIDE for the last 4 years....REALLY??? Your college transcripts? What is he hiding?

    August 3, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Erik in Houston, TX

    Produce your taxes, Mitt, like your father and most everyone else says. You're being treated differently because you are running for President of hte United States – get used to it.

    August 3, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. cornelius7213

    "On Thursday, he urged Reid to come "forward" with his source." For Sen. McCain to be fair to both parties, he should also urge Gov. Romney to "come clean" with his tax returns. QED.

    August 3, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Len

    No Mr. Romney it is time for you too show all your tax returns. You must be hiding the fact, you have not paid your fair share of taxes!!!!

    August 3, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "What a bunch of bickering 5-year olds. Grow-up, politicos!"

    A real adult...a real man...would just release his tax returns instead of playing cowardly games. It's that simple. People aren't being a "5-year-old" for demanding that Mittens do that.

    August 3, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Bernard Webb

    Romney could end ALL of this in a flash AND prove his point about Reid if he would just RELEASE HIS TAX RETURNS. What is he hiding??

    August 3, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. Mohammed

    Romney needs to just produce his birth certificate and prove that he was born in Hawaii and not Kenya just to get everyone to shut up.

    August 3, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Hey Romney, if you just released your tax returns, you would make Reid look silly and foolish for doubting you... unless, of course, he is right

    August 3, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. rs

    Well, to paraphrase the GOP Birthers (I NEVER thought I'd say that): Just show us yer dang Tax Returns Mr. Romney!

    August 3, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. FreeLove

    Mittens can flap his gums all he wants. Who cares? Lert's see the tax returns Mittens. Put up or shut up. No one cares what you have to say until you do. Romney PAID NO TAXES FOR 10 YEARS and that is why he won't release his tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. De Odorizer

    "Critics have hit back against Reid's comments.. , faulting him for making claims based off an anonymous source" Nahhh, that can't be, GOPers never make unfounded claims, no muslim president, no swift boating, no cries about 100,000 $ booze tab for Pelosi in airplane, no claims that Obama visit to India cost 200mill A Day...
    No, never, GOPers have never ever made such claims.
    Teeny problem: Romney hasn't released his tax info. Obama and Reid do regularly. And they are elected officials, you know free elections and all. I think the contender- pretender Romney needs to shut up or put up.

    August 3, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. amontagno

    Romney should challenge Obama and say he will release his tax returns when Obama releases all of his college records, and other information he has paid serious money to hide.

    August 3, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. joe sarr

    if mitt refuses to show his tax history, why IRS is not acting and start to audit his Income taxes ? the majority of people Reps and dems wants to see his tax return, you got to come clean

    August 3, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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