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. joe

    It's actually time for Romney to put up or shut up. It is not unreasonable for the American public to want to know whether or not he pays taxes on his huge fortune. The fact that the best he can do is resort to screaming "shut up" like a petulant school girl suggests that he really does have something to hide.

    August 3, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. rosaadriana

    Put what up? Reid is not running for president and Obama has released a boat load of tax forms. What is Romney trying to hide? THis little display makes him look panicked.

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

    So, Mr. Romney wants the leading Democrat to release Romney's own tax records now? It's time for Romney to learn that he has the power to disprove the presumption of guilt by releasing his tax records for review. He asks for someone to "put up or shut up", but that makes NO sense. That's a term that would ONLY make from the other angle. So Romney, UT UP OR SHUT UP, indeed.

    August 3, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. Barada

    A little birdy told me that Harry Reid is corrupt. Please show us your FBI file. What? Won't do it? What are you hiding?

    August 3, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Independent jim

    Reid is not running for president ... I dont care where he gets his money.. Romney needs to show his returns .. I for one want to know how much $money$ ..Romney made as a top investor of Stericycle ..the abortion servicer

    August 3, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Rogue351

    No Mitt it is you that needs to put up or shut up, lets see the tax returns. If you have nothing to hide then letts see exactly how you made your money. YOU have made the choice to run for public office so therefore it is the peoples right to know exactly who many fill such an important office. Why not start the trend and sent an example, if you have nothing to hide then it should not be a problem.

    August 3, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. rapierpoint

    Simple solution. Reid needs to show us the proof. Otherwise, all he is doing is engaging in modern day McCarthyism.

    I got a call from someone in Reid's hometown telling me that, once a year, Reid takes a trip up to Alaska and engages in clubbing baby seals. He's done it for the past ten years. Now I can't say that the guy is telling the truth, but he's always been a reliable source. Reid needs to present proof he hasn't clubbed baby seals over the past ten years.

    For all of you jumping on the Reid bandwagon, how reasonable does the above sound? It's not different than what Reid and you all are claiming. Reid needs to produce at least some shred of evidence backing his claim.

    August 3, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Jeff in Virginia

    What exactly can Harry Reid prove here? The question is about Mitt Romney- the man who is running for President of the United States of America.

    August 3, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Jewels

    So –my family is from Utah and witnessed Mitt lose his cool during the olympics. I guess a bus for travelers was running late and he started throwing f-bombs. Alas, he has a temper. I prefer Pres. Obama's calm, cool ways.

    August 3, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Test Tickles

    Are we getting a little testy ?
    Cant take the heat ?
    You rattle easy ?
    I dont think i want this guy answering the phone at 3am.

    August 3, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. mistamista

    @Barada – Harry Reid is not running for the highest office in the land. Romney keeps speaking about his god giving him the faith to run and how much religion plays a part in his role as a politician...but he can't even get past his tax lies let alone the hundreds of other obvious lies.

    August 3, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. Trickle down doesn't work


    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."

    Just like President Obama's birth certificate.

    August 3, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Andy Smith

    23 from Texas – the birth certificate issue with Obama and Romney's tax returns are not the same thing. Obama provided a Live Birth certificate, which is officially acceptable and no other Presidential candidate before him had to release their long-form birth certificate before, but Romney has only released one year of returns and an estimate of last year's return (which is not an official document) and previous Presidential candidates provided well over 1 year of tax return (more than 2 years even).

    August 3, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Newtonslaw

    I think Romneys the one who needs to put up? He's the one hiding his returns, but I've noticed whenever he's challenged, he turns around and says "No, you are" like some little kid. What's up with that?

    August 3, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Malory Archer


    A little birdy told me that Harry Reid is corrupt. Please show us your FBI file. What? Won't do it? What are you hiding?


    Since you seem to know so much about it, howsabout YOU show us Harry Reid's FBI file? In other words: put up or shut up!

    August 3, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Anonymous

    what harry show some files no dem will show anything to do with their finances cause their charity only tops out to 2$ for the year but they clain 2 million on taxes and then throw all their funds in a friends account to hide from the IRS right harry?

    August 3, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    "It's time for Romney to learn that he has the power to disprove the presumption of guilt by releasing his tax records for review. "
    Presumption of guilt??? What is this – Cuba? The American system requires the accusor to make the case.

    August 3, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. xirume

    So the mormon flip-flopper wants congress to put up with his lies... how mormonic If this is how he behaves as a mere candidate, imagine what corruption he'll bring in as president.

    August 3, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Woman In California

    Ya got that a little twisted don't you Willard? The burden of proof is on YOU not Harry Reid.

    August 3, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Robert Gleason

    If President Obama was forced to show his birth certificate... then Romney should release more tax returns. To be commander in chief, we the people need full disclosure. That is why Mitt Romney’s father provided 12 years… including profitable ones from when [George] Romney saved American Motors Company from bankruptcy and became a millionaire on the company's stock options.

    August 3, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. robert

    i heard from an anonymous source that harry reid likes to dress in drag while moonlighting in downtown las vegas.....and that he goes by the name dirty harry.

    August 3, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    I don't know. Mitt's "put up or shut up" just isn't working for me. It probably won't work (for me anyway) until he follows his own advice and ... well ... puts up or shuts up.

    August 3, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. mistamista

    @ MIDave – You're so inept that even your words are confused. You're going to be waiting on November, just like everyone else, but the November you're looking for is in 2016. Good luck with that.

    August 3, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Anonymous


    A little birdy told me that Harry Reid is corrupt. Please show us your FBI file.
    Harry Reid would not control his "FBI file" – if one in fact existed. Romney does control his tax returns and is trying quite hard to keep people from seeing them. Why? I assume you're a supporter – wouldn't you like to know the character of the person you're supporting? He's hiding something bad enough to cost him the election. Would you want him to win if he was clearly a crook? Really?

    August 3, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Cheron

    @michael: "No way I am going to trust somebody who is in a cult. No way."

    Guess what? Reid is a member of the same church, or "Cult", as you put it. Where were these same Dem's when Obama wouldn't produce a birth certificate? Mitt has provided what is legally required and the whiners want more. Obama did *not* provide proof of where he was born until he was in office for over two years. And McCain never said that Palin was selected as the "Better choice" because her taxes were in better order. Come on people, use your brains for once and don't be one of the brain washed suck ups for your favored party. I don't agree when some say that stupid people shouldn't get to vote but I certainly understand it after reading some of these pedantic posts.

    August 3, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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