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. J Russ

    Harry hasen't paid his taxes either – someone just told me – where are your tax returns Sen. Reid?

    August 3, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. huff

    SPQR, Obama has refused to show his college records such as how he got into an elite expensive university when he by his admission had no real means of support at the time. He refuses to release his thesis as other candidates have in the past to show what his line of thought has been. Sorry but you can't throw out an accusation and say prove its wrong. No, Reid must show at least some evidence that his accusation holds merit. He hasn't and can't do so. This is just tossing some random words out hoping something will stick in a campaign year.

    August 3, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. cnnmembuh

    Harry Reid is a mean, bitter, angry, hypocritical millionaire carrying water for the big O.

    August 3, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Jackson

    This is all stuff and nonsense from Romney. If he were to try and sue Harry Reid for slander, he would have to prove Reid was lying. The only way he could do that would be to release his tax returns. So, go ahead Romney, prove he's lying!!!

    August 3, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  5. UDidntBuildThat

    I have an anonymous source that told me in strictest confidence that Harry Reid took bribes fr casino owners in his home state of Nevada, to ensure legislations were implemented to beneft them. They also told me that it was not just money but Senator Reid received fr the casino owners but Reid enjoyed numerous other beneffits, like special "appointments" with various male and female "escorts", & is a drug addict. I cannot reveal my sources who came to me requesting strict anonymity. If Harry Ried did not do any of these things, he should prove it! Pee in a cup, give a hair sample and the feds should investigate his office records in DC and back home.

    August 3, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. Cathy L

    I will defend Obama on this one topic only. It does not make a difference where he was born...any country or in outer space. His mother was a US Citizen, which makes him an automatic citizen, whether born here or in Timbuktu...any citizen, with half a brain should know that. Now I am done allowing that man's name to ever cross through my brain ever again. GO ROMNEY!

    August 3, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. viknat

    2 Aug 2012- Sen. Harry Reid is at it again, trying to talk NV Energy into buying the power from a proposed $5 billion Chinese solar plant near Laughlin. Think Harry needs to be investigated

    August 3, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Lisa P


    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.

    August 3, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am

    Well aren't you quite the fool. Scott Walker and his pro-rich donor, anti-struggling worker policies are creating jobs at less than half the national rate. Unless you are an ideologue or a plutocrat he's been nothing but a disaster for Wisconsin. But hey, don't let that stop you from believing his lies about balancing the budget or lowering taxes or improving schools or attracting new businesses to the state. You know - all that propaganda that his friends paid to put on TV but that isn't supported by the (easily available to anyone who looks) facts. I'll bet you believe him when he calls himself "courageous," too, and when he pats himself on the back you want to give him a gold medal for gymnastics. It will just be that much more entertaining when he is indicted for campaign fraud and corruption. The investigation has already borne fruit. Not that you would know anything about that.

    August 3, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Nameandrew

    This is what it has come to? The Vice president of the united states Making unsubstantiated allegations. Sad.

    August 3, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  10. REG in AZ

    "My plan will turn things around and bring the economy roaring back, with twelve million new jobs created by the end of my first term," Romney promised. Grandiose statements without any details or explanation, just the usual “trust me”, while in sharp contrast to all that others are striving to accomplish, those who are daily fighting the battles. The Republicans have consistently concentrated only on their political ambitions, on catering to “the money”, their strong supporters and masters, and on aggressively blocking and stubbornly faulting others’ efforts while just taking for granted that their deceptive rhetoric will sway the people. Their words ring hollow as there is no reason to believe they are anything other than “more of the same” aimed to con the people and manipulate public opinion. It is not only ridiculous but it is also insulting as they continually assume, with the money, power and influence of the 1%ers backing and dictating to them, that they can literally control the voters for their self-serving purposes.

    August 3, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. snowdogg

    "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."

    Mitt, you could put this to rest by releasing your tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. Pam from Iowa

    If Romney has nothing to hide, he should have offered up the returns weeks ago.
    And as for McCain's comment about erratic behavior, oh boy...isn't that like the pot calling the kettle 'black'?

    August 3, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Back at ya, Mitt!

    August 3, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  14. What?

    John said:
    So many of you lemmings are concerned about the rich paying "their fair share." I am concerned about the 52 percent of low and middle-earning US Citizens who pay no taxes. When I was a teen and lived at home, my father reminded me frequently that as long as he paid the bills, he called the shots. I feel that way today – those who pay for 92% of the taxes (the top 20% of earners) should get to call the shots. This is why our country was founded as a republic and not a democracy! Democracy is essentially "mob rule."

    August 2, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |

    August 3, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. ObamaJoe

    Mitt is hiding something in his return for sure,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    August 3, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. ObamaJoe

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

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

    Do as your father ,,,,,,,Mitt !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    McCain says Reid displays "erratic behavior" .... from the man who foisted the Quitta on us. Rich!

    August 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Debits-n-Credits

    We just want to know whether Mitt has been hiding money in off-shore bank accounts.

    We also want to know how he acquired his vast fortune.

    August 3, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. viknat

    And Harry Reid's plan lets add a few million Chinese jobs

    2 Aug 2012- Sen. Harry Reid is at it again, trying to talk NV Energy into buying the power from a proposed $5 billion Chinese solar plant near Laughlin. Think Harry needs to be investigated

    August 3, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. What?

    Cathy L – you are wrong about Obama's citizenship.

    August 3, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. AuntFritzi

    Back at ya, Mittens!

    August 3, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Matt

    Romney didn't break the law, he just used every angle he could to avoid paying his share. he played ths grey area. illegal, no, presidential, no, if the gop wasn't so divided they might put someone up there worth voting for, they won't compromise in Congress, but they nominate a compromised candidate. the hard core conservatives will hold there nose and vote for him, but not us Indys. I was raised you got to stand for something or youll fall for anything. Romney has changed his stance on almost every major issue through the years except his desire to make money, and it seems to me he doesn't want to be honest how, look at me I made all this money, how, stop picking on me. boo hoo. wake up gop.

    August 3, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  23. lookout4

    Don't you think that the IRS has scrutinized all of Romney's taxes with a fine tooth comb by now? Or do you have that little faith in the US tax system. If Romney paid very few if any taxes, while staying in compliance with the IRC, his accountant should be congratulated. Vilifying the tax client (Romney) is absurd from every angle.

    August 3, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. ObamaJoe

    Harry Reid is a nice, kind, warm heart, funny millionaire carrying water for the big O 🙂

    August 3, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  25. ObamaJoe

    Vote Mitt Romney / Michael Bachmann 2012 🙂 🙂 🙂

    August 3, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
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