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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. Malory Archer

    Russ in Md

    It is the right of everyone to meet there accuser before having to prove there innocence.......

    No it isn't. I know someone who was accused of being a drug dealer. He consented to a search of his home and nothing was found, but he was never provided the name of his accuser, and 8 years after the fact still has no idea why someone would make such an accusation.

    August 3, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. A better direction

    Reid is following the Obama campaign... lying, slandering and running on perception. Romney paid his taxes–the IRS has audited him in 2008 and 2012 presidential runs.

    Reid should get sued for false accusations. Nevada should be smarter than this.

    August 3, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Trickle down doesn't work

    And he still hasn't even released 2 full years of tax returns yet. 2010 is incomplete. What's the hold up.

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Vasilios Birlidis

    swap out the words tax return with birth certificate, and you have the same dirty trick the GOP has played for the past 3 years.

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. A better direction

    Romney >>> Obama

    An old sock >>>>>>>> Reid (What is Nevada thinking?)

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Ken

    Wrong person divering the line to the wrong person!
    Remember Leona Helmsley? "Taxes are for the little people".

    Mitt's "Let them eat cake" attitude is just going to sink him. Job creation numbers are up!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. scott

    so much romney, he had a good run. and the hannity radio show? need anymore be said?

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Paul

    Harry Reid maybe should find a way to pass something in the Senate just taking out of one end of his body and not using the other seems he is great at that.

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Cameo35

    ........ Rommy just lost my vote.....................

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. Bob the Cat


    The republicans sure can dish it out but can't take it .

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. xirume

    @ Barada: if you hear voices coming out of animals, you need heavy medication.... then again, you are listening to the GOP.... you need heavy medication, period.

    August 3, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    23 from Texas

    sounds like somebody else who ran for prez and didn’t want to show us his birth cert.


    I KNOW you're not referring to President Obama who DID show his birth certificate. But you MUST be referring to President Obama because no other Presidential Candidate has EVER had to show their birth certificate.

    August 3, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Eiolgj

    The old I know you are so what am I defense.

    August 3, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Anonymous

    for 5yrs the GOP/Teapartiers have been riding President Obama about his birth has been released and re-released so many times by him and the Hawaiian local government...but yet the same hypocrits cuddle Mitt about not releasing his tax return.... disgraceful!

    August 3, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Obamajoe

    Come on ,,,,,,,,Mitt,,,,,,,,,,,you put up your return with 14% tax,,,,,,,,,,,he will shut up ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    August 3, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mitt Robmoney said if elected, he would create 8 million jobs by end of his first term? Really? Number 47th in job creation in Massachussets couldn't even create jobs in 1 state but he is now trying to convince the American people that he would be able to create 8 million jobs in 50 states? Really Mitt? And by the way Mitt, my grandfather was Einstein! Really! Let's face it, with all the right wing upheaval and whining over the way the President is handling the economy on one hand and Robmoney's exaggeration about his credential and know how to fix the economy on the other hand, I would have expected Robmoney to say that he would be able to create 8 million jobs by end of his first year in office. Hey Mitt, in under 4 years, President Obama has already created and saved 7 million jobs in the public and private sector and this was accomplished inspite of the fact that the President was confronted with two wars and the worst economic crisis in our time, not to mention that in the midst of all this, the President also had to deal with a divided congress bent on seeing that he and the country fail. And Mitt, if you were to get into the White House and were able to improve the economy, it would be because you didn't have to deal with an Iraqi war and an Afghan war in its full fledge state or a divided congress that blocks 7 jobs bills to stall progress. Obama/Biden/Roberts 2012!

    August 3, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. JD

    Every time I see Mitt R it reminds me of Rick Perry. He is going to blurt out something, (a gaff) any time.

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

    Do what your father have done ,,,,,,,Mitt !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  19. Peter

    Each and every day that Romney doesn't produce his tax returns just makes him look more like the sneaky oerson he is.

    August 3, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Obamajoe

    Mitt Romney / Michael Bachmann 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. gshoes

    hes mad after his party hounded obama for his birth certificate for 3 1/2 years

    August 3, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. paul

    Romney can remove all doubt. It's really simple, Mitt, just release your tax records for the last 10 years. Even your father said that, when running for president, one should release tax records. The right wingers kept crying to see Obama's birth certificate (he must have something to hide) and when Obama released his birth certificate they shut up. Now, you too, can shut up the "common" folk by releasing your records. Still waiting........

    August 3, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. jrm

    How would an investor in Bain Capital know what Romney paid in income tax?

    August 3, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. brownstain

    Romney likes cheese!

    August 3, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. Jan

    Romney is such a JOKE he is beyond being worthy of a laugh!!! President Obama has been in office nearly 4 years, but has only had two years (his first two) being free of obstructionists. How he has been able to get anything done in the last two years is AMAZING!!!! Yet Romney, in full knowledge of the obstructionism of the republican party, is relentless in his criticism...AND AT THE SAME TIME SAID ON THE RADIO THIS MORNING THAT IF HE IS ELECTED IT WILL TAKE HIM UP TO THE LAST YEAR IN HIS SECOND TERM TO GET THE JOB DONE!!!! REALLY??!!!! I COULDN'T EVEN MUSTER A LAUGH!!!

    August 3, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44