Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'
August 2nd, 2012
06:22 PM ET
10 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. ObamaJoe

    Media should ask Mit is it lower than 5% ????????????


    0.03% ???????????????????

    Vote Ron Paul πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    August 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Willa45

    If Romney has nothing to hide then why doesn't he "put up"! If we want's to be president, he has to earn the trust of the American People. He has to prove for once and for all, that he's been a good tax paying citizen like the rest of us. I won't vote for someone I can't trust.

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

    Your headline is misleading. You say "Romney tells dem to shut up". He actually said "Put up or shut up". There is a huge difference between the two.

    August 3, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. John

    It Mitt Romney that should Put up or shut up, He the one that refuse to show more tax return like he should. Mitt Romney Is a man that can't be trusted.

    August 3, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. What?

    Okay, if the moderators will permit I am going to re-post John's comment because this is really what matters more than seeing Romney's taxes. Facts are facts. If the rich find some loopholes to hold on to some of THEIR money SO BE IT ! Who wouldn't? BTW – Romney has been giving over 10% of his income to charities that benefit EVEN democrats.
    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 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. ObamaJoe

    Guys,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it's all about control,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    rules are made by human,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    It's just WHO you are trusted to make that rule that gives you a fairness,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    No crap,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it's straight forward,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Vote Ron Paul πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    August 3, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. NativeUSA

    Isn't Harry Reid a mormon? Where is all the hate Mormon speech when dirty Harry opens his yap to slander honorable Americans/

    August 3, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. WKT1186

    Romney has complied with the election laws. He has no duty to go further than that just to give liberals something to distort and lie about. Obama cannot run on his dismal record, so this is the best he has got. If Obama is the smartest guy in America as his delusional supporters claim, then show us the college transcripts.

    August 3, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. Lil

    @Huff – How did President Obama go to that expensive school with no money? Duh,It's called student loans.
    In fact both him and his wife did not finishing paying off those loans until he became a Senator. As for showing his school records, when has any other president been asked to show his birth certificate, school records and thesis? Since he was the president of the Harvard Law Review, that would indicate he was pretty damn smart. Next you'll want his DNA. Someone should have checked if George W finished kiindergarden, let alone Yale.

    August 3, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. ObamaJoe

    Game of control,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    America ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,America ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    A land hates greedy British King ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    A land of our brave founding fathers of America πŸ™‚

    August 3, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. NativeUSA

    When Obama shows his college transcripts and where he funded his college as well as his REAL long form birth certificate then sure show you tax forms many tax forms did Obama show in '08? Oh year not twelve........

    August 3, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. SEA12

    @Lisa P

    The subject under discussion is the insane claim made by Harry Reid, which was the subject of my comment. By describing my statements as a "hyperbolic attack" you dismiss reasoned argument of any kind. Perhaps you could
    make a "sober evaluation" of our President's record over the past 3.5 years; a record that does not make even a
    weak case for his re-election. Evaluate facts, not philosophy or political advocacy - and present substantiated reasons for Obama's re-election. Waiting . . .

    August 3, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. ll

    No Romney – America is calling for you to PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

    Where are your tax returns? And despite your spin of STILL don't have a plan for the middle class.

    August 3, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. lolo

    How about you putting up those taxes Mittens and quit hiding behind Ann's skirt and Faux news you nitwit.

    August 3, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. CVBCT

    On the issue of tax returns...any one running for public office should release their tax returns! I'd love to see Nancy Pelosi's tax returns or Harry Reid's for that matter. Since a majority of these career politicians are millionaires, I bet their effective tax rate too is less than 15% as they too are generating income from investments!

    August 3, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. gggg

    On the one hand, and I hate to admit it, I agree with Romney. If Reid has no proof, he should have kept his mouth shut. On the other hand, Romney himself could prove this wrong immediately by releasing his taxes (and at the same time make a Democrat look to be a fool, something the GOP seems to like to do). Though Reid may be wrong, Romney's continued refusal to make the records available makes Reid look like he might be on to something. And at this point, that will not change until we actually see some of Mitt's tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. hjonkers22

    Romney, should hold out...untill Obama discloses school transcripts of both him and Michelle, who paid for his education, and who he paid and why he paid to keep records closed. Then, he might be inclined to show tax records...

    August 3, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. grist

    The reason Romney wont release his returns is either that he did not pay taxes for several years or that the loopholes he used over the past 10 years to reduce his taxes won't seem fair to normal people. This really is the main issue of the election. It is about whether to lower taxes for the rich and raise taxes/cut programs for normal people.

    August 3, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Patriot Awesome

    The Republicans are totally getting a taste of there own medicine on this one. They've been pulling the innuendo move on the dems for years. Romeny's responses or should I say nonresponses are only hurting him.

    August 3, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Harry Baxter

    Here's the problem with Romney: He doesn't know how the Real World works.
    If he has nothing to hide, he could put this whole thing to rest by opening his tax returns to public scrutiny. As a matter of fact, I'll go much further than that. I'd allow him to reveal the tax returns with EVERYTHING redacted, except for the following information:
    The name(s) of the people that the return is submitted for
    The Total Income(Line 22)
    The Adjusted Gross Income (Line 37)
    The Total Payments (Line 72)
    The Amount of Refund (Line 74a)
    The Signature, and/or Paid Preparer's Line)

    Sorry, Mitt; the onus is on you. You're the Guy who has to Put up or Shut Up. If you Returns show that you paid even the lower rate of 14%, you'd embarass the Democrats no end, and you could possibly win the Presidency. Unfortunately, though, I don't see that happening, which proves that you'd rather be fabulously rich than President. Do us a favor, though. After you're defeated in November, don't bother us again. I don't want to hear what your positions are in 2016.

    August 3, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Vic of New York

    Seems like Romney and the brain-dead Repugs got it backwards. It's ROMNEY of whom AMERICA is waiting to put up his tax returns or shut up!

    August 3, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. lyn

    Romney, what are hiding, shut up and put out all your TAX RETURNS, we the people have a right to know. Great job Harry Reid you are right we all need to know what this dishornest man who want to be President is hiding.

    August 3, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota


    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?

    For Pete's sake, Mitt is doing his best to buy his way into the White House, don't you know?

    Apparently, what's IN his previous tax returns is much more damaging to Mitt Romney than NOT releasing them would be. So, yeah, it makes one wonder what he's trying so hard to hide.

    Quite the gambling man, Mitt Romney is - in more ways than one. It's his "gambles" which are causing him the most distress.

    Not good for a potential President to flounder about so needlessly this far into his campaign.

    August 3, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. JAB62

    Harry Reid will reveal his source when Romney reveals his tax returns!

    August 3, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. JAB62

    Hey hjonkers22
    What do tax returns have to do with academic records?

    August 3, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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