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. Woman In California

    kpoer wrote:

    Why should he have to show more than 2 years of returns?

    Because for once in his miserable, greedy life he is asking US for a job and it is up to US to decide what he should or should not have to submit and we want at least 12 years of his tax returns.
    No tax returns.
    No White House.

    August 3, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. The Divine One

    Romney's apologists on this thread seem to be missing the point. Every Presidential candidate for the past 40 years have shown at least 12 years of tax returns as a way of showing the American people that they are with us. What is the problem with Mitt Romney showing his tax returns? His father did it willingly, and with pride. Mitt is asking us to vote for him, but he doesn't feel that he should release the returns. Well I guess that just about says it all. The guy is hiding something. Harry Reid just echoed what most Americans have been saying; lets see your tax returns Romney! Gee whiz!!!!

    August 3, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. Dan

    Interesting McCain simply says there was 'nothing disqualifying' in his tax returns. 'A decade' goes back to tax year 2002. So when McCain was vetting him that would mean he was seeing six of those years. If he was paying his (substantial) share of taxes, then I think McCain could have said something much more straightforward and definitie.

    Bottom line, he may have paid some, he may have paid all that was legally necessary, but it wasn't much considering his income, and was much less (percentage-wise) than most middle-class Americans pay, which is a disgrace. And his new tax plan shifts more of the burden to the middle class?

    Seriously, how can anyone in the middle class and below not see what these Rs are doing to them? "Cut taxes so we can create jobs" when they're as low as they've been in decades. "Cut regulations so we can create jobs" when the lack of regulations is what got us here. "Privatize social security so you can make more" when in reality all those billions will just flow to the coffers of the corporations and the 1%. "Do what we ask so we can get richer while you get poorer..." WHOOPS, uh, pretend you didn't hear that last one.

    August 3, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Obamajoe

    nothing disqualifying ,,,,,,,,,,,,is not paying more than 0% tax ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    August 3, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. southernwonder

    romney telling democrats to shut up is troubling for what it means for our freedom of speech. and he is not even a presdient yet. imagine what atrocities he would unleash when he is the president.

    August 3, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Al-NY,NY


    @ 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

    thank you Bessy for putting it VERY clearly to the obviously-logic-challanged "birthers" who are now "transcriptors." Not that it will make any difference in their convoluted logic but we can only try....

    August 3, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Obamajoe

    If Mitt hides nothing ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,McCain should say: Mitt paid income tax,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,around 13.9%

    August 3, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Am

    We all know it's standard practice for candidate to release close to 10 years tax returns, If Mitt the Twit won't release, then we know why. He's probably cheated or skirted loopholes that still amount to cheating. His 2010 return showed he claimed a $77,000 write off for feeding his show horse. Man, I can't claim 10% of that for feeding my kids.

    My guess there's more crap like this... Msg to the Mittster, INTEGRITY: It's what we do when no one is looking.

    August 3, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. mountainmama82

    Tricky Mitt show us returns. This reminds me of Watergate. Deep Throat never had to come forward so why does Harry have to produce his informant. Mitt is burying himself just like Nixon did.

    August 3, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. anthony76

    So if Mitt shows us his taxes,
    Obama shows us his college transcripts,
    And Reid names his source..
    who has the best chance at the Presidency?

    Something tells me it's not Mitt.

    August 3, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Jason

    Who cares if he releases his tax returns. He's got money in swiss bank accounts, so do alot of wealthy democrats. He did was is allow by law, if you don't like it reform the tax code. Tell you what though if someone made the comment about how disappointed my dead dad was like Sen Reid said, he'd be sleeping and then waking up staring at the celing and wondering what just happened. I understand politics get dirty and quite frankly I'm so sick of it from both sides. Let's talk about the real issues.

    August 3, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  12. anagram_kid

    BoatShark wrote, “There's really only one true issue – the economy. Pres. Obama hasn't found the solution so he needs to be replaced.”

    Wrong. There is more to being POTUS than just the economy. Education, the environment, foreign policy…etc. And Gov. Romney does not have the intelligence, critical thinking or decision making skills for any of the issues a POTUS must deal with, and that includes the economy. Understanding the economics of venture capitalism is not the same as understanding the economy. Hate President Obama all you want, but Gov. Romney is not a better solution.

    August 3, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Slackmeyer

    He SHOULD release his tax records. When Dear Leader releases his college transcripts, grades, articles, etc. Maybe release the Fast and Furious docs (without be redacted).

    Romney is NOT required by law to release his returns. The Dems can't find any information on him they can spin to make him look bad, so they want him to release his tax returns so they can lie about something in there.

    That's it. Romney hasn't been divorced three times. Hasn't been arrested for anything. Hasn't run a prostitution ring out of their New York apartment. Dems usually don't mind when their own do things like that, but OH! If we can only find something like that in a Republicans past!

    August 3, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Phaedrus

    Sounds like a golden opportunity to embarrass Reid. Do it, Mitt! Your minions have faith in you.

    August 3, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. majormom

    My Mom never allowed us kids to use "shut up" so I still find so much offense when I hear it and to think it is coming from the Republican presidentital candidate!! URGH. So what is Reid supposed to "put up" with? I don't understand what Romney is saying by "Put up or . . ."

    August 3, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. kman

    Did Romey comply with the rules to become eligble to run for President. It states one full year to be eligible so what is the big deal

    August 3, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Sniffit

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

    Two reasons: Obama's brown and IOKIYAR. It's that simple.

    August 3, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Gary

    I have always thought that Bush (W) was the worst president in my lifetime but Romney is poised to take the title. Anyone that worked at the companies he worked for, or other companies that consulted with his company can speak to his arrogance with a blind eye to any ramifications caused by his business deals to the people effected and his arrogance. How he can tell anyone to put up or shut up while he destroys data drives from his term in MA and refuses to reveal what has become a reasonable amount of tax returns is a display of that arrogance. I guess us peons are just supposed to say what the boss says and live with it. One can only assume that will be his attitude if elected. Don't forget, this guy is not a person that is used to being challenged. In business he was used to people who depended on him as the source of their income jumping when he said jump. If he wants to shut people up about his taxes its very simple, release ten or twelve years worth and make all the people questioning him look like fools. People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.

    August 3, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |

    I'd like to assert, based on information from a usually reliable source (my irish setter, he's a trusted and reliable hunting dog and companion) , that Harry Reid is in fact an alien from the planet Xrrg, and eats babies for breakfast. Oh wait, you mean I should actually be able to prove something that I assert? You must be s shameless dolt if you think I should actually be able to prove what I say! My position and bald hutzpah should be enough for any doubters!

    August 3, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. LJ

    Seriously, though? We're sitting basically chastising someone for their success. Unfortunately, that success was built upon a broken system. What is the one thing that Americans want most of all? It's to pay little to no taxes. He's done that. It completely sucks for the rest of us, but we've got to do something about the tax code!!! Everyone works an angle of some sort, and he exploited that. I'm in no way a fan of Romney whatsoever, but you can't fault the dude for working the system. We've got to rebuild the system, not keep attacking a person because of how they legally used the system...

    August 3, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. ironman59

    Even today we still have the far right screaming about Obama's birth certificate. Yet, they stand behind the "we dont have to" defense when it comes to mitt's tax returns. The argument is the same they said to Obama, if you want the issue to go away release the information. There is no difference with mitt. If you want the issue to go away then release the tax returns and then stand by what is in them.

    Until then, mitt just needs to shut up and quit complaining. It is just another case of the gop wanting one set of rules for them and another set for everyone else. That usually means they don't have to follow the rules they try to set for the rest of the world, that the deserve special excemptions.

    August 3, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Anthony

    Romney wants to give millionaires like himself another 20% tax cut, on top of the Bush tax cuts that he wants to make permanent. OK, Romney, since you want to give millionaires like yourself more tax cuts, shouldn't voters know how much you have been paying in taxes? We need more than one or two years of tax returns. As your father said: "One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show, and what mattered in personal finance was how a man conducted himself over the long haul."

    Put up or shut up, Romney.

    August 3, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Dean

    "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. --------------------If this is true it is because Reid and his do nothing colleagues have complicated the tax system so much over the last 30 years that it is perfectly legal not to pay any taxes in you do know the loopholes.-----------Reid and the dems have not said Romney has done anything illegal.

    August 3, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. petena

    Where are the tax returns? If you can't take the heat now, what then why are you running for POTUS? Romney thinks it will go away. IT WILL NOT.

    August 3, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. stevensb

    Hey Mitt ........ wnatta ya hidin' ???? By releasing your last 10 years of records and showing that you have done absolutely everything above board you get a WIN , WIN !!!!! You make Reid look like an even bigger buffoon and show the American voter you are , in fact , above board and transparent and ready to lead America !!!!
    All I'm hearing is whining or the chirping of crickets from you ........
    National political campaigns are knock down , drag out , dirty affairs , everyone knows this .....
    So , what's the big deal , release the records , get in the game and man up Mitt .............

    August 3, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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