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. Adventure49

    There is only one person who can resolve this and that is Mitt Romney. Only he can release the tax returns that answer the question; all else is hearsay. So Mitt, I think it is up to you to "put up or shut up."

    August 3, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  2. rs

    Look up FERPA- Educational records are protected, private information, and no President or candidiae has EVER had to produce them. Meanwhile, every President and candidate for the past 50 years has released 8-12 years of tax returns. Except Mr. Romney, and now even people in Bain say he hasn't paid. Good trick for a guy making $50,000 a DAY income- dontcha think?

    August 3, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. drake mallard

    From Draft Dodging to War Mongering Mitt Romney is George W. Bush

    Mitt Romney was in favour of the war in Vietnam, but was too chicken to
    fight in it. He had his little pro war sign, and was happy to see
    other people be sent and get killed, but wouldn't go himself

    August 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. SEA12

    "I heard someone on the street say that Harry Reid was not a U.S. citizen. He had better prove to us all that he is a citizen or shut up! " What fantastic reasoning. You Obamaites ought to embrace leaders with even one ounce of common sense. Otherwise, we'll all simply shout out what we "heard from a reliable source" and make everyone defend rumor. Harry's a disgrace.

    August 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Jon

    I think the solution is simple ... Romney reveals his taxes ... and if Reid is wrong he resign immediatly, along with anyone that has made the accusation that Romney has not paid taxes.

    August 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  6. mike

    enough already
    get rid of all of them big corp.sell it to china,clean the wh and congress,and senate
    start fresh any one in power for more than 2yrs,out you go
    try a real job for a change which by the way is what you will get pd
    because when all said and done
    they just don't care. period
    and they never will it's all about money money money!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. Don Beal

    I guess Mitt Romney should release those tax returns and prove that Harry Reid is wrong. That will end Harry Reid's career.

    August 3, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. ObamaJoe

    Hey 🙂 🙂 🙂

    “Here are four possibilities: 1. Extremely high levels of income… 2. More offshore accounts…. 3. Politically explosive investments… 4. A very, very low tax rate.”

    August 3, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Seriously?

    Mitt to the American people: Just trust me.......

    August 3, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Real deal

    I have an anonymous source that says all the blind Romney lovers posting comments here have crap for brains.

    August 3, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Jon

    Reid has nothig to loose ... he is not going to run for re-election so what ever he says can't hurt him ... he gets a life time pention that is more than any of will ever make – he gets health care better than anything we will ever get under Obamacare... he will get speaker fees after he retires that will be more in one speach then, we the middle class, will make in a year.

    August 3, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |

    Well Mr Romney, class-less act as always. Where are your tax returns? Harry Reid is not the one running for President, you are Mr. Romney. You gave 20+ years of them to Senator McCain 4 years ago to be vetted for V.P. Maybe he still has copies??

    August 3, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. maary

    I would say that Romney has finally backed himself into a corner.. If he is going to accuse the president of all these things based on this supposed "lie" about his taxes. Then its da... time he proved he has a right to call him a lier over it.. And put those taxes up as proof..
    Simple enough ... Just show the taxes... If not .. Then its obvious who is lying.

    August 3, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Steve Giles

    If Mitt wants Harry to shut up releasing his tax records would do the trick, that is, unless he really is trying to hide something.

    August 3, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. trooperchix

    Nameandrew: you really don't have a clue. Harry Reid isn't the vice president...

    August 3, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. UDidntBuildThat

    So let me get this straight. Unemployment percentage inscreased fr 8.2 to 8.3% and CNN does not report this but instead runs an article that Obama is "close to being a job creator"?!!! See CNN Money. Really CNN. Obama has been in office for almost 4yrs now, said unemployment would be around 5.6% by now if we passed the stimulus "shovel ready jobs" bill, passed Obamacare and spend $5+Trillion. Really CNN? If this were a white republican presiding over this economy wouldn't you run something like "failure", "umeployment number catastrophic", "economy is worse than 2008", "we are in a depression". I see ur true colors shining true!

    August 3, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. SEA12

    Here are four other possibilities: 1. Nothing illegal was done by Romney; 2. Demos want to change the subject from Obama's record; 3. Being successful and rich is not wrong; and 4. If you don't have any facts, you make things up.

    August 3, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. Lisa P


    Here's the deal: it seems that any form of slander, misrepresentation, or lying is "justified" for the Obama
    folks; Romney is taken to task for even a mild criticism of the President. If we're going to evaluate exaggeration
    and distortion, let's do so without bias. The Obama campaign is running one of the most negative and polarizing
    operations in the last 80 years. So much for change and hope in American politics: when it serves his purposes,
    Obama abandons all hope. Wake up and look at what's going on through unfiltered bias.
    August 3, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |

    Romney could stop all the speculation in an instant by simply releasing his returns. Why doesn't he? Personally I think he welcomes the opportunity to deflect attention from a close examination of his political record and current policy positions. It is so much easier to snipe at the President and then play the victim when there is return fire. Make it about the controversy and the people on your "side" will rush to you defense. Look at your own post - a hyperbolic attack on Obama that pretends to be about fairness. Not a word about what Romney says he would do as President, or a sober evaluation of whether or not he might be able to realistically do it, and what the effects might be. Point a finger and three fingers point back at you.

    August 3, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Thomas

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

    Harry Reid is not vice president .

    Mitt show us your taxes , your father did .

    August 3, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Amarjeet

    Romney use of words like "Put up or shut up" are very unbecoming to Reid who is very democratic to accammodate demons if the people of America vote which will never happen for Romney with his dubious public conduct to others national leaders.

    August 3, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    Easy enough to resolve, Mittens: Man up and release your last 12 years of tax returns like your dad did.

    Even if Mittens paid taxes all those years, his returns would show plain as day that our overly-complicated tax code is geared to allow the very rich to get away with crazy deductions like taking $77,000 for horse care as a "business expense" and in general avoid paying their fair share.

    August 3, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Lokust

    Saying put up or shut up doesn't even make sense in that context.

    August 3, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Michael B.

    I don't care about his tax returns. He's American and better than Obama so that's good enough for me.

    August 3, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Anonymous


    I think the solution is simple ... Romney reveals his taxes ... and if Reid is wrong he resign immediatly, along with anyone that has made the accusation that Romney has not paid taxes.
    Good plan! Of course we'd also expect all of the "birthers" in Congress to resign immediately – since President Obama's birth certificate has been public knowledge for years and is accepted by the leadership of the Republican Party.

    August 3, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. wally

    @cathy – uh, you might want to review the Constitution, because you have to be BORN in the US to be President. So it does matter. But we all expect that kind of confusion from Romney supporters.

    August 3, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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