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. Amarjeet

    It is moral responsibility of a person & commitment to people of America that presidential candidate should be true to himself & belief & make public everything before election and more so when demanded.Clean face & clear political image is most important for people of America & all voters.

    August 3, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  2. burgett85

    A decade of not paying a penny of taxes is a very serious allegation for a presidential candidate. However, if it's not true, Romney just has to release his tax returns for the preceding decade . . . . so why doesn't he do so? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

    August 3, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    @J Russ

    Harry hasen't paid his taxes either – someone just told me – where are your tax returns Sen. Reid?
    Reid's were filed in the last election.

    August 3, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. brian

    Someone told me that Harr Reid was Alien from a another plant and has no genitals. That's what i heard but I don't know if it's true. So I going to the floor of Senate and say it because I want to.

    August 3, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Larry L


    "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.
    Have you ever heard of "birthers"? You people are too easy....

    August 3, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Kenneth

    Romney has the opportunity to turn things in his favor by simply releasing his tax returns. If there is nothing to hide then Harry Reid and the Democratic party look the part of the fool. It seems like he would JUMP at the chance to eliminate the opposition and potentially the careers of those who made the false claims (if proven false). However by not releasing the returns he not only provides ammunition but the longer he waits the guiltier he appears. Although the American people may be fickle at times we do not take kindly being blatantly lied too and treated as though we are insignificant. JUST SHOW THE RETURNS MR. ROMNEY!

    And pertaining to President Obamas college transcripts and birth certificate, any idiot that thinks that Harvard law or Columbia University would provide or support false information pertaining to their institutions is delusional. Each has too much to lose if proven (see Penn State).

    August 3, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Bill C

    All Romney has to do is release his tax returns, and this will all go away if he is right. Although a fiscal conservative, I cant help wondering what he is trying to hide. We already know that in the one return he did release he took a deduction of about $77,000 to care for his wife's horse. I am also troubled by his offshore accounts and Swiss bank account. Taken all together, the secretive accounts show a total greed that is beyond belief. My daughter and her husband gross only $55000 a year both working full time and with three kids cannot afford health insurance. Another daughter with her own small business keeps getting squeezed, by big insurance companies for discounts she cannot afford. She also cannot afford health insurance. I see nothing in Romney positions that will help my hard working kids get a leg up. Many Americans I know are in the same boat, nothing more than economic slaves to the job creators.

    In the end all I hear is whining from the Romney campaign, about tactics used against him which he had no problem using against his fellow Republicans during the primary. Just show the returns and shut Harry Reid up!!!!

    August 3, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  8. korkea aika

    5 possible scenarios why Romney refuses to release his tax returns:
    1. he's much more wealthy than we know
    2. he held much $$ in off shore bank accounts outside USA
    3. he took advantage of a 'tax amnesty' and paid back taxes in exchange for no jail time: In 2009 and 2010, the IRS offered a limited amnesty voluntary disclosure program for taxpayers with unreported foreign income. This program was designed to encourage taxpayers with unreported foreign income to disclose the information voluntarily and come back into the system. In exchange for the voluntary disclosure of this information, the IRS would not subject the taxpayers to criminal and civil fraud penalties. More than 15,000 individuals took advantage of this limited amnesty voluntary disclosure program.
    There is a reason Romney is trying to release only FUTURE tax returns from 2010 when he started running. And even his 2010 release precluded the FBAR or foreign assets portions of it. Tell Romney to release PAST tax returns now!!
    4. he has $$ in a company that profits from abortions
    5. he has paid less taxes to the US gov't than he paid to the mormon church in tythes

    August 3, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  9. Daver

    He's a very secretive guy... secret tax returns, and more importantly, secret plans with no specifics whatsoever on how he'd make any changes to the current state of the nation. I will not vote for a guy who says he's gonna pull a rabbit out of his hat. He needs an answer to hope and change, and he needs it quick to get any consideration from people that actually care about this election.

    August 3, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. sf

    Romney needs to follow his own advise 'PUT UP OR SHUT UP...SHOW US YOUR TAX RETURNS!!!" that way, we can say they're false just like the way you right wing nut jobs called the president's birth certificate false even though he showed it to you idiots over and over! tired of this double standard...and trust me america, republicans and people like them in positions of power are like this in their every day lives...bullying their way to the top, and once succesful...look down on every one else! only way to get through a rich person, IS MAKE THEM POOR!

    August 3, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Marge in Texas

    I do not believe Romney should be forced to release any more tax returns than required by law. Obama and his minions are simply digging for something, anything, to try to make Romney look bad thinking that, since the liberal media will help Obama, the public will not see anything else on the news media about how Obama has basically destroyed everything Americans have been working for, i.e., high unemployment, horrible economy, home value disaster, higher welfare/medicaid etc, and crippling debt! When you have nothing dood on your record to support your claim to office, like Obama, the only answer is to try to distract, regardless of how far in the gutter you have to crawl.

    August 3, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. Cathy L

    Why all of this k wrap about his tax returns or the fact that he is rich? He will not use his own money to run Washington, or,for that matter, he will not pass legislation. Almost every elected official in Congress, now and than, have amassed millions of dollars while "in service" during their elected terms..not one of you care about how they made their money!! The current leader of our once great country never had a real job and rarely voted anything, but, "present" during his short Senate career and during his first campaign made so many promises that he couldn't keep. In an interview he said that he was busy in the first 2 years deciding what his policy would be to, that he was not able to actually govern. Yes, let's reelect him maybe this time he will take the next 4 years deciding whether or not to decide.

    August 3, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. FlotsamJetsam

    Put up or shut up is right. Where are Mitt's tax returns? If it shows he paid no taxes then Reid needs to at the very least apologize to Romney. Meanwhile Romney has been playing this game, which can only mean he has something to hide. I truly believe there is something embarrassing in there or else why not release them?

    Since he was also a candidate back in 2008 why didn't he release them then? All the serious candidates did back then. Romney seems to want this both ways, he wants to claim the success of his time at Bain Capital, but also distance himself from anything bad that happened. This is the ONLY thing he is running on. Do you hear him even mentioning his executive experience as Governor? Of course not since Romneycare is so closely associated with the Affordable Care Act. This truly does matter and Romney needs to come clear with the American people. Lets face it the only support Romney has are those people that are just voting against Obama, but independents realize that Congress has been among the worst of all time and so he got NO cooperation in the last two years. Romney has not expressed any of his own opinions only that people shouldn't want Obama. Where are the policies Mitt?

    August 3, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Keith A. Sillsbury

    Funny how romney wants reid to put up or shut up when we've ALL been staying the same thing to romney. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.

    August 3, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. SCOTO

    OK Reid, show the public MY tax returns to prove what you say. The ones I wont show anybody.


    August 3, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Traceman2000

    Both sides lie, haven't you people figured that out yet? I don't think there is anything fishy with Romney's returns and Obama is not from Kenya. It's all BS and you people fall for it every single time and you get on here and post more BS to defend which liar you believe in. Ok, hold your breath, I'm going to tell you a secret: ALL POLITICIANS LIE!!!!!!! Democrats lie and Republicans lie. They both lie all of the time. Romney does not care about you, Obama doesn't either. They care about THEMSELVES and they are using us to benefit their needs wants and desires. And what do we get for it? Well, just look at the state our political system is in today. People, stop drinking the GOP or the DEM kool-Aid!

    August 3, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. ObamaJoe


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


    So,,,,,,,,Mitt and Harry both did not pay income tax 🙂 🙂 🙂

    ------Stupid GOP or what,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,How can you say like that===LOL

    August 3, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. ObamaJoe

    Harry hasn't paid his taxes either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    August 3, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. SEA12

    @Larry L

    "you people are too easy" Ha! I voted for Obama in 08 . . . I'm one of "you people" who have been misled and disappointed (read: can think for myself when presented with facts). Please don't assume more than you know.

    August 3, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Eagles1 need to double check your facts. No past candidate had to produce more than 2 years of tax returns. I'm sure your weren't asking for John Kerry to release more than 2. It is such BS and a distraction. It is the same as askinb obama to product birth certificate or college transcripts. Aren't you tired of the Gov't thinking and telling you how to live your life. WAKE UP...hope and change is for losers!!!!

    August 3, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Johnny

    Question. Is it unacceptable to consider an anonymous source as credible (in order to encourage a US pres candidate to do what is standard among candidates), then turn around and accept some self-conjured assumption that the WH was the source of the original info? More hypocrisy. Never ends. 4 year term limits on all fed elected positions! Eliminates the manipulation for campaign funds while in office to perpetuate their corruption.

    August 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Marge in Texas

    Romney has already released his 2010 tax return and it confirms that he in fact paid taxes - direct proof that Reid is just outright lying about Romney not paying any tax the last 10 years. Now if Harry Reid, or someone else in Obama's camp, can figure out how to read a tax return, Reid should have to eat the return, the entire 200 or so pages!

    August 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Keith A. Sillsbury

    HEY!!Better idea, If reid is wrong then he has to quit! BUT if he's RIGHT"""' romney has to QUIT! politics that is.

    August 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. CVBCT

    Romney could resolve this quite simply by having the IRS release a statement saying his returns were filed. I'm sure they were. This looks like another deflection from the three ring circus because the current administration cannot run on its record. ITA with Michael B. I really don't care about Romney's tax returns. I do care about what Obama has not done for this country though. This country is moving forward right off a cliff!

    August 3, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. truth hurts

    iany day now i expect obama to instruct the irs to disclose all of romney personal tax returns. they will be leaked like all of our nation's top secrets have benn by the obama adminstration.

    August 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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