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. Dean


    "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
    ---------------------Maybe it's because one of Obama's student ids stated that he was a foreign student.

    August 3, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Eddie The Barber

    Release of tax returns should be manditory when running for any federal office – much more than 1 or 2 years (or in this case, whatever the candidate decides). What if we find out a few months after Romney takes the oath of office – that he's a tax cheat? The whole country will be thrown into turmoil. This man thinks he's bigger than the office he seeks. No man or woman is and Romney should be humbled by that office but he lives in an unreal world and he and Ann think it's "...their time". How friggin arogant they are.

    August 3, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. ItsAMirage

    Put up or shut up?! This is what Mittens has come too! Screaming like a little boy. Oh poor Mittens, he is been pick by big bad bullies. Ohhh poor him so sad so sad. Hey Mittens, show us your Tax returns. Prove us wrong!
    And someone said Reid should release his FBI file on himself?! Sorry buddy, Mittens is running for one of the most powerful position in the world. He needs to put up AND shut up.

    August 3, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Charlie

    Democrats are getting Desperate.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    President Obama has been in office nearly 4 years, but has only had two years (his first two) being free of obstructionists.


    Actually, he didn't even have that as Senator Franken's Senate seat was contested by the loser rethug, and by the time the matter was settled by the court, Senator Kennedy had left due to declining health. The lie that President Obama had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is just that – a lie.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. Pat

    I have it from a source that Harry Reid has had relations with sheep. I would like him to provide proof that this is not the case.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  7. anoel2005

    Harry do nothing Reid is deflecting from real issues.

    I was relieved when the state electorate was smart enough to keep Repub. Gov Walker in Wisconsin. He's making the hard decisions to encourage businesses to grow and he's fought the Unions and he keeps a budget.

    The D.C. Democrats in the Senate ( led by Harry do nothing Reid) are heading us toward bankruptcy. They have no budget and they are obstructing all the House Bills. Let's wake up America ! .......and elect Romney for JOBS JOBS JOBS.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  8. LIP

    Does anyone really ever listen to Senator Reid? He is pointing his finger and all the time, three fingers are pointing at Reid and his lackluster senate with 12% approval rating amongst all Americans.
    Get to work Reid and quit loafing around!

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Dean


    If Mitt hides nothing ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,McCain should say: Mitt paid income tax,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,around 13.9%
    ------------–That's still better than over 70% of the population paid and not illegal.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Rosslaw

    This is the perfect chance for Mittens to release 12 years of tax returns like his Dad and humiliate Sen. Reid. Yessiree, the perfect chance-just have to release those tax returns-boy, will Reid be embarrassed then, you betcha! Just have to release those ol' tax returns. Any minute now Mittens is going to up and release them-Reid must be sweating bullets.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Jake

    This guy Romney is the epitome of fraud and liar. He calls out Reid for putting up or shutting up, but he is the guy that has put up anything that America has asked and demanded of him...his tax returns. This guy for all intents and purposes is trying to turn this around to make Reid look like the bad guy here for saying something that millions of Americans suspect...he paid no taxes and that is why he won't release them. The gall of this guy to insult people's intelligence is beyond belief.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. ejktexas

    So.....Reid accuses Romney of not paying taxes and a lack of transparency. Romney says where is your proof? THE PROOF IS IN YOUR TAX RETURNS!!!! If these are lies, release your returns and make Reid look like more of an idiot.

    August 3, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  13. L.D.

    How could anyone avoid that worthless IRS for ten years, Dingy Harry is a big shot why doesn't he go directly to the IRS and ask for the returns? Rush labled Dingy Harry along time ago and frankly he's being too kind, he's a dirty, scrowngy little little man and I use the lable man loosely! Why doesn't our "Golfer in Chief" order the IRS to produce them, look at how many times Clinton used these "Jackbooted Thugs" when someone made him mad or embarrassed him!

    August 3, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  14. Brian

    America to Romney: show your tax returns or drop out of the race. You are a bizarre man who things you can hide what everyone else routinely shows...including your father!

    August 3, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  15. maneough2b

    I agree they should show all however- How about Congress proving also????? How many of them do not pay taxes. Let's also face the fact that most if not all in Congress are millionaires also. Our Presdient is also. They all hide their money in other countries also. Romney is not different. Look at the Clintons. Their money is not here either. We must all agree nobody could ever run the USA to satisfy us.

    August 3, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  16. Les

    I read comments on here and Harry Reid got what he wanted. He stood on the senate floor and repeated gossip and everyone takes it as gospel. Harry Reid needs to prove what he says or stop saying it till he has prove. Harry Reid is rich but makes like he is middle class.

    Oh by the Way Mr Reid follow the consitution and bring the bills from the house to the floor of the sentate instead of just sitting on them. That is the law.

    August 3, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Anonymous

    romney isn't refusing to release his tax returns because they're going to be too beneficial. he's made a calculated decision not to release them because they will hurt his campaign.

    August 3, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. Bob L.

    I see no reason for Romney to show his returns for 10 years since obama has hidden much of his stuff, college transcripts, etc. It's time to quit playing political games and vote for someone who knows and understands business and can get this country back on track. We need to vote out the ultra-liberal who keeps increasing the debt an is pandering to all those who are looking for continued handouts instead of working for a living.

    August 3, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  19. truthbetold

    most of you couldnt even read a tax return anyway. Are you trying to say that the IRS made mistakes? That they missed his obvious lies then? OR are you saying that you expect a lower effective paid tax amount that is just dont like it. Would you rather he not give to charity? How do his charitable contributions compare to those of barry and joe? want to talk facts? didnt think so.

    August 3, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Tracey

    Not a Romney supporter, but I agree. It's childish to say that he has proof but is not willing to prove it or reveal his source. No one has time to play games.

    August 3, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Jack Flak

    There is such a double standard here. Would you want a president who manages his personal finances and businesses foolishly? I think not. But once in government politicians seem to manage the nation's finances like Bozo the clown. Perhaps we should revive the bumper sticker "NO BOZOS", but with a new meaning.

    August 3, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. steven harnack

    Wow, such thin skin! Makes me wonder how he would react to the constant insults and abuse that the GOP has heaped on President Obama every day for the last 5 years. Poor guy. He's trying to top daddy and he's not 1/10 of the man his father was.

    August 3, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  23. Jausti

    I agree, put up or shut up – Romney where are your returns. You can end this whole thing today. Just let us see what you're trying so hard to hide and we'll go away.

    August 3, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. SomeNameHere

    It's time for Romney to put up or shut up. You see Mitt, we the people simply don't trust you. Release your tax returns or ship out.

    August 3, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. 9hydra

    "when Obama releases his college transcripts, grades, articles, etc." You tea partiers are never satisfied.

    Obama released his tax returns. Then he released his birth certificate. Multiple times. Now he has to release his grades.

    We're asking the bare minimum here that Romney show us he didn't rob us taxpayers with his offshore bank accounts.

    We don't care about Romney's grades or transcripts, because that's a really stupid thing to ask for. We don't care about his birth certificate for the same reason.

    But release your taxes Romney. What are you hiding?

    August 3, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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