Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'
August 2nd, 2012
06:22 PM ET
11 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. cleareye1

    What a joke these two are- and both Mormons! They both carelessly throw around allegations and cheap suggestions without evidence and blame each other like school children.
    All we want to know is- did Romney pay his share of Federal taxes or not.

    August 3, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. Ol' Lefty

    Willard can make Reid look foolish by producing his tax returns, so why won't he? Maybe he can sue the majority leader for libel. Of course, in his defence, Reid would subpoena said tax returns. End this now, Willard. Produce the tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. just sayin

    Sen McCain is saying that someone else sometimes displays erratic behavior? Either way, I like him. Hillary/McCain 2016

    August 3, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. DarqueSide

    Okay, John McCain... you've seen Romney's returns. You are in a position to put this to rest with just one of two words. True or false. But you didn't say that, did you. You call for Reid to name his source. Methinks there might be some fire beneath that smoke!

    August 3, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. EaglesQuestions

    Okay, CNN's link to this was
    "Ticker: Romney tells Dem to 'shut up' "

    Yeeah... if someone tells you to "put up or shut up," they're not actually telling you to shut up. They're telling you to put your money where your mouth is.

    I was so duped into clicking here.
    Not cool, CNN. Not cool.

    August 3, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. anagram_kid

    Big Buck wrote, “Obama will not even show us his College Application...Obama is dishonestly diverting weak minds from the economy to a non issue.”
    So let me get this straight… A man who may one day determine tax laws not showing his tax records is a non issue, but the college application of someone who has been president for over three years is relevant. Huh? Will seeing president’s college application change your opinion of him?

    August 3, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  7. Miki801

    Turning the eximination to the accuser is a high school debating method. Harry Reid can not reveal his informant without bereaking faith. Put up or shut up is on Romney, not Reid, Maybe out of those ten years he did pay $1.98 in taxes. If he does not show his taxes, or waits till Halloween so that they can not be examined before the election, the voters will know the worst. Then maybe the returns are so bad that we can't fathom the problem. Since we can not make congress and their lobbists close the loopholes, increase the rates on the one percent.. When the great job exporter can smirk and say that he was not in charge at Baom while sigining SEC reports, and that not paying material taxes was within the law we need to change the law. Romeny is not the man to do that.

    August 3, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. Bessy

    @ Big Buck
    Why ? Why should he show us his college application ? Just to satisfy idiots like you who hope to find out something neg about him. I'm a college graduate, a professional, and no one has ever asked for my college application or my GPA for that matter. So, why is it necessary for President Obama to show his. Taxes, now that is another matter. Romney is cheating the same country he wants to represent as President. If he is not, then show us his tax reports.

    August 3, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. bb

    Lets thank Reed for such a wonderful job hes done with the Neveda economy !!!! what a sideshow the dems are oviously not working for the people unemp up again and all they do is bad mouth anyone to distract from this

    August 3, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Jon

    Let me see if I have this right. Romney, the guy who is hiding his income tax returns, is asking Harry Reid for evidence. That has to be the most convoluted piece of logic I've seen this year. Reid is under no burden of proof here... the proof is Romney's to offer or conceal. It really is that simple. Every day that Romney continues to conceal his taxes is one more day the rest of us will trust him and his party less and less. Show us the money, Mr. Romney. Or go down to defeat in November.

    August 3, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Thinkstr8

    One way to settle all of this is for him to make more tax filings public but he won't of course. Electing this man as president is like making the fox guard the hen house.

    August 3, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Chuck

    Why is it Romney needs to release more tax records when it took 2 years and an act of congress to get a birth certificate from the "anointed one"... not to mention we STILL don't have B. Hussein's college transcripts. Talk about an agenda! Reid is a dolt.

    August 3, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Conscientia

    Maybe what he's hiding is that he took advantage of the tax amnesty for people who illegally hid money in Swiss bank accounts. But who knows? Put up or shut up means that both players show their cards. OK, let's see your hand, Mr. Romney!

    August 3, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. W.G.

    Most crooks like Romney are real confidant till they are exposed . He must of hid the money real good .
    Why won´t the IRS just audit this crook ?

    August 3, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. SongsByHamilton

    So let me get this straight... Supposedly It's time for Mr. Reid to "put up or shut up" and provide proof instead of making making baseless claims? This coming from the guy that has yet to show more than a year of his tax returns BUT wants Americans to trust him with leading our country for the next four years??? On what?! Your word that your taxes are squeaky clean and you haven't been exploiting loopholes??? Though this may come as a shock to you, TRUST IS something to be EARNED! It is NOT a privilege! Nor is being the POTUS! It's time for YOU to PUT UP or SHUT UP Mr. Romney.

    August 3, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. Rie Rie

    McCain only said that Romney did nothing wrong. Romney could have paid NO taxes and yet still been within the law. Senator Reid simply said Romney paid no taxes. Senators McCain and Reid could technically both be telling the truth.

    August 3, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. Doug

    Does Harry Reid not have anything better to discuss on the Senate floor? I think the bigger issue is how political hacks like Reid can waste the tax payer's dime on crap like this. I can not understand how guys like this keep getting re-elected.

    August 3, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. independent, Texas

    IF president Obama had not paid or made availible his tax's for the last 2 years and IF Obama had 200 million plus unknown amounts in foreign banks and offshore you think the GOP would let up on him.....Obama 2012....!

    August 3, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  19. jon

    Republicans clamored for Obama's birth certificate. Why can't Dems clamor for Romney's tax returns?

    August 3, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. vote the Tea Party Out in 2012

    actually I think they BOTH need to put up or shut up. I wouldn't trust either of these two no more than I could pick them up and throw them.

    August 3, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. realtalker

    Ready for December.

    August 3, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. indigo

    Mitt Romney, a sure fire way to quiet down so called false accusations is to produce the missing tax returns; why won't you if you don't have anything to hide?

    August 3, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Rumney is asking Harry Reid to let the anonymous person step forwatd and REVEAL himself? Really Mitt? How about you REVEAL your tax returns you draft dodging, tax evading deceitful, lying, flip flopping hypocrit?

    August 3, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. crumbie

    the economy is tanking and all we hear about is Romney's tax records. is that all Obama's campaign has?

    August 3, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. mikle

    One man told me, that He got phone call, about How mr. H.Read beat his wife for 10 years. He need explain to American people when He stopped do in this.

    August 3, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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