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. angryoldguy

    There is a saying; "Like father, Like son" except in this case! George Romney released 12 years of his Tax returns and started a trend that his son refuse's to follow. Without his returns we can only speculate as to why, but that speculation can only be be negative because all of us know that the only reason someone running for office would refuse such a thing is because they have something in those returns that they don't want the American people to see. To those supporters who claim he doesn't have show us anything, ask yourself why you feel that you must make excuses for your candidate.

    August 3, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. MIDave

    Unemployment rate at the highest levels and for the longest period since WWII
    Trillions added to the National Debt- highest percentage of GDP in the Nations history
    First time in history the country's credit score reduced- increasing the cost to borrow money
    Executive privelege exercised to cover up the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
    First time in the Nations history the simple act of being born here now requires you to pay a tax (Obamacare)
    No budget passed in over 40 months
    Over half a billion of our tax dollars flushed down the toilet to repay an Obama bundler, i.e. Solyndra
    The list goes on and on....
    And the best they can come up with is they want to see his tax returns?
    November can't get here fast enough.

    August 3, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Lee Tutt

    Mitt, Mitt, Mitt we ALL know that you are just trying to buy time or that the America people will forget about you not paying taxes or some mythical spell would over take us, well it's not going to happen.. Is this what we as voters had to look forward to if you become President, the voters are like the ad on TV "show us the car fact".

    August 3, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. Publius Novus

    Mr. Romney: Show us the tax returns for the last ten years.
    Sen. Reid: Name the source of your information on Romney's tax returns.
    Mr. Romney: Name the source for your claim that the WH is Sen. Reid's source.

    August 3, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Russ in Md

    It is the right of everyone to meet there accuser before having to prove there innocence so Reid should reveal to Mr. Romney who his source is .

    August 3, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. wileysee

    Harry "Joe McCarthy" Reid is just follow the game plan of the infamous senator from Wisconsin. It's nice to see that over time things really don't change that much.

    August 3, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. BoatShark

    This side show garbage will continue on through election day. There's really only one true issue – the economy. Pres. Obama hasn't found the solution so he needs to be replaced. And please don't give me that junk about taxing the rich, the amount of revenue it'll generate is nothing compared to the mess we are in right now. The government needs a budget, they need to live within it and they need to tackle the debt .... oh and they need to work together – for the people not their parties.

    August 3, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Lookout4

    Reid is making a fool of himself, basically acknowleding that he & Obama cannot run on any record, so they resort to personal attacks. I am a CPA, and if Romney kept his taxes low while conforming with all the provisions of the IRC, his accountant should be congratulated. Vilifying the client (Romney) is absurd.

    August 3, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Michael Q

    It is possible after taking all the tax (legal) deductions, Romney as an individual could have paid no income tax for ten years as any 'creative' accountant will tell you. So, all Romney has to say is "I have legally used those individual tax deductions (incentives as they are known to conservatives to reduce their taxes) and paid where applicable what the IRS has asked me to pay. It just so happens with all the deductions that were available to me over the past ten years, I owed and paid no personal income tax." Therefore, both Reid and Romney are correct in their comments.

    August 3, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Marty, FL

    Romney needs to follow his own advice and put up his tax returns as his father did.

    August 3, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  11. John Blackadder

    "Reid..Put up or shut up????"
    Mitt needs to do the putting up. Rumors range from paying no tax to illegal valuations of IRA contributions and illegal off-shore accounts. The gun is smoking. His IRA is worth $100M tax free dollars. Limitations on contributions and safe-harbor requirements limit IRA's for Joe Citizen to $10s of thousands. This all points to some fast accounting. I think Mitt's been a naughty boy and he doesn't want us to find out!

    August 3, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. David

    My guess is that during a meeting with Bain investors, the subject of income taxes came up and Mitt bragged that he 'hadn't paid any taxes in 10 years'. Perhaps an exaggeration and maybe he paid only 5 or 6 percent, but surely some impressive tax dodge to show off about. I'm sure the investors then all wanted to know who his tax consultant was. If he paid 13 percent last year, it's easy to imagine that he paid far less while at Bain – single digits. His returns while at Bain would certainly embarrass him.

    August 3, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  13. Gimmeabreak!

    Harry Reid, the slimeball, needs to put his own house in order. There's no doubt these lies came from the White House slime factory!

    August 3, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. hypatia

    That's a thuglican idea of 'discourse'. Ordinarily, Twittens would just send a bunch of cops in to shut everyone up like the nice little goose-stepper he is.

    August 3, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  15. John in Brooklyn

    There's a simple solution, Mr. Romney. Simply release your taxes.

    August 3, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. MagicPanties

    Release your taxes or shut up.

    August 3, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  17. tct

    Interesting situation probably misrepresented by both sides (as usual). I think the key is "nothing disqualifying", that sounds to me like nothing illegal but a substantial political liability (not just for his candidacy but for the tax arguments). Reid probably is over the line or at least jumping the gun, but it sure sounds like Romney did find a way to avoid taxes for about a decade since McCain didn't say it was untrue.

    August 3, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  18. 23 from Texas

    sounds like somebody else who ran for prez and didn’t want to show us his birth cert. lol libs want their cake and to eat it too. "Show your tax returns mitt!' "No BO shouldn’t have to show his birth certificate, we all know where he was born!" typical of the dem party. Makes me want to say I am not an American; all these plain stupid people that live here with me.

    August 3, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Roscoe Chait

    Play nice, children. No more lying or your nose will grow. Oh, it already has.

    August 3, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. us_1776

    Harry calls Mitt out and all Mitt can do is dance, dance, dance.

    It's simple Mitt. Show us your tax returns. What are you hiding?

    As if we didn't know.


    August 3, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  21. jlt

    The Pres quote anonymous sources all the time...Reid needs to do nothing...It is up to the fraud and tax cheat willard to disprove.
    By tax cheat I would bring your attentions to the fact that romney claimed Mass residency but had filed Utah taxes ..When caught he had to amend and pay penalties! That is cheating ,,He claimed to be living in his sons UNFINISHED BASEMENT!

    August 3, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. USA401

    Im pretty sure the IRS knows if he paid taxes or not. So sooner or later the truth will be out.

    August 3, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |

    Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Whatever happened to the right to face ones acusers? I'd think the onus of proof is on someone making an accusation of any sort, whether it's in a legal court, or in the oh-so-fickle and gullible "court of public opinion". Let's see some actual proof of what Reid says. Or can anyone now acccuse anyone of anything just by "asserting with impugnity". Just yet another example of why the public hates politicos of all ilks.

    August 3, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  24. sarge

    Also time for Mitt to pay up or shut up!

    August 3, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. sammieb51

    Romney said "Put up or Shut Up?" - now that's funny.

    Everyone has forgotten about the CEO scandal of 2 weeks ago - I want to know why a guy can sign documents certifying he's in charge when he says he wasn't in charge. Same as the tax returns, those documents are signed under the penalty of perjury. Which reminds me, didn't the GOP try to impeach Clinton for "lying under oath" (perjury)?? Gotta love the standard of exceptionalism the GOP consistently rams down our throat. Maybe that's what THEY MEAN BY AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM?


    August 3, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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