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. malcolm Spence

    Mitt, methinks thou dost protest too much....

    August 3, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. DemsDIgOwnGrave

    Did any rabid democrat consider the idea that Romney has nothing really to hide (other than legally paying less than 15% tax, which is a different policy issue), and is just allowing the Democrat Rhetoric to feed on itself to these ridiculous levels. Let it get to a furious roar, then release the records that say essentially what his 2010/2011 records say. (He makes a boatload of money, but as capital gains only pays 15% tax).

    If Reid is accusing (defaming) of Romney of paying $0 tax, and that what he paid was illegal, then what happens when the facts show something else, what does that do to Reid? GE legally pays $0 tax. It's the system that is broken. I don't blame GE or Romney for legally exploiting every loophole they can. Fix the system, simplify, Maybe Cain's 9-9-9 plan was right. Maybe a flat tax rate is right. But Dems could be digging a hole so deep, that even Obama can't charm his way out of it.

    Gutter politics can go both ways, the sludge can splash back and drench the original mud slinger. I predict that stuttering and bumbling Harry Reid is going to need more than a short shower on this one.

    August 3, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. The King

    Let me understand this. romney refuses to release his tax returns because he thinks it will damage him politically. So when Reid alledges that he paid no taxes, romney starts his crying routine?? Easy solution mittens...SHOW US YOUR TAXES IF ITS NOT TRUE.
    He won't do that because IT PROBABLY IS TRUE.

    August 3, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Voting4Mitt

    That is the job of the IRS to determine who filed what and when. if they haven't come after him then why this? Truth of the matter is that keeping up with tax laws are very complicated which is why tax preparers and tax attorney stay in business.

    August 3, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. George T. Dotson

    Telling Harry Reid to put up or shut up is coming from the same people who encouraged the Donald and other birthers when they said the President wasn't born in this country. They didn't tell them to put up or shut up. Some only shut up after the President put up,and made them look stupid and proved them to be liers. Let's us this same tactic on Mitt. Prove Harry is lieing. Show us a few years of your tax returns. You have nothing to hide.

    August 3, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. max

    hey mittens, you should put up or go the heck away ...

    August 3, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair


    Is all you leftists have is Mitt Romney's tax returns?!?!?!?!?!?

    You're little "Operation Change The Subject" (that is, away from what most people care about – the ECONOMY) isn't going to help you one bit. The only people who care about Mitt Romney's tax returns are those who have no intention of voting for him in the first place.

    So keep on preaching to the choir... it's not going to help you one damn bit come November.

    August 3, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Okay folks...

    How about we look at the last 10 years of charitable contributions from both candidates.
    We live on a combined income of less than 60k and annualy give over 10% to charity. We ALWAYS look for loopholes so we can give more to charity.

    August 3, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. Mitt Romney

    Ha ha ha ha, if you don't like me, get someone else to run against Obama. Hey, I know, how about Ron Paul? Snrk. Or Sarah Palin, she'd be good. She has lots of gravitas. No, I don't have to release a god dang thing, and you all know it well. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I'm going to lose and not care 'cause I have a dancing horse named Trolololo and magic underwear.

    August 3, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Blame the White House

    "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."

    The White House? So let me get this straight: Romney is now trying to prove he's a being victimized by Harry Reid by answering an "untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate" claim by whining and throwing out another totally baseless, unfair, and unsubstantiated claim that Reid's source is the White House. Wow, Mitt! Way to lower yourself right down to Reid's level. Did you and your campaign think that one through very long? How can we lash out at Reid and blame Obama at the same time?

    You think Harry Reid looks stupid? Imagine how you look blaming Obama. Congratulations to you both. Reid has brought this tax issue down to an 8th grade level, and in his equally mind-numbing response, Romney has kicked it back to the 3rd grade. Money can buy lots of things, but I guess common sense is just not one of them.

    Releasing those tax returns sure could clean up the whole issue. Unless, of course, you've really got something to hide.

    August 3, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  11. Okay folks...

    @The King. (?)

    Who said Romney is not releasing his tax returns because he thinks it will damage him politically? The truth is more likely that Reid is just trying to distract you (and clearly he has succeeded) from Obama's dismal record.

    August 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Reid must know he can't win re-election in Nevada, because this unsubstantiated slanderous attack on Romney will cost him big time at home (and maybe even in his pocketbook and legally). Romney plans to release the same number of tax returns as his predecessor John McCain. The reason the White House needs to make such a big deal about Romney's taxes is because they don't have anything else on him that will stick. The guy is squeaky clean. It is becoming increasingly clear that President Obama can't possibly win in November.

    August 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. DemsDIgOwnGrave

    @JAB62. Baseless accusation is called defamation. Believe it or not Romney, is on firm legal ground. He's complied with all election rules. He's released his last two years. It's the accusers, without proof, who are claiming Romney is a "criminal". It's the accusers who have the problem. But think about this, just a little but, Romney ran in 2008, if he had won the Republican nod then, he would have been required to release 2006/2007 Tax returns. Do you really think there was anything illegal in those returns? C'Mon this is presidential politics where the financial stakes are out of your and my understanding. I view this tax return rhetoric as the Dems versions of "birthers".

    August 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Ed

    If Romney was vetted as a potential VP running mate for McCain in 08 as I have heard-wouldn't they have some insight into the status of his tax returns??

    August 3, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. KP3205

    Romney's taxes have nothing to do with this. Face it, he's rich because he was successful. Plain and simple. The tax codes have loopholes, so change them. Tax the rich more, it doesn't hurt them one bit. Look at what is actually being said, POTUS wants to now tax the top 2%...hmm it was all about top 1% last summer...or the millionaires, blah blah blah. His 30% tax on all of the rich is actaully a tax cut. Go ahead look at the tax codes. You are all falling for the bs. Most wealthy Americans have their money locked up in funds, stocks, etc. Capital gains max right now is 15% and if the tax cuts expire 20%. Means nothing to them. Untill they cash out it's invisible money.

    I will give you your 30% and let the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone except the rich and guess how much more in revenue the IRS will take in. At best $100 billion. That's actally a 33% increase on what they bring in right now for the top 1%. So now our annual deficit is still $800-900 billion which we have to borrow and we still haven't started paying back our debt. Wake up people!!!! All of Washigton is playing us like puppets and most are just chiping like parrots. Do some research.

    August 3, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Moderate Sean

    BB stated, "Lets thank Reed for such a wonderful job hes done with the Neveda economy !!!! what a sideshow the dems are oviously not working for the people unemp up again and all they do is bad mouth anyone to distract from this"

    bb, are you daft, or what? I am no defender of Majority Leader Reid, believe me; however, Senator Reid is not the Nevada State Legislature, nor the Governor, who have the responsibility to craft budgets or spending bills, allocate money, or spend it in the end. So, your comment above regarding Reid and Nevada's economy is totally ridiculous and without any merit!! Get a grip and some honest and realistic talking points. does count in this country, yet so many people just take it for granted, right bb??

    August 3, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. John

    Make a deal......................Reid agrees to provide your requested proof and SIMULTANEOUSLY you agree to release your tax returns....................

    August 3, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. PR

    I don't think Mitt is hiding the fact that he paid no taxes. I think what he's hiding is the ridiculous amounts of money he made. He's going around saying how bad the economy has been for the past 4 years, but if it was so bad how'd he make so much money? His taxes contradict what he's saying and that's what he's trying to hide.

    August 3, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. WesinNCA

    Harry isn't running for anything. .RMoney, what are you hiding from.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall when Pres. Monson has to square these two up in his office.

    August 3, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. No one

    Put up your tax returns or shut up.
    Seems Romney has regressed to a teenager, this isn't a high school election, though this performance does suggest a drama club.

    August 3, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. thanks, but no thanks

    Really, college transcripts that is the best you guys can come up with... Loosers

    August 3, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. tony

    lies of omission are still lies. Any social conservatives heard of the 9th commandment??

    August 3, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. CVBCT

    The 50% of Americans who do not pay taxes should NOT be allowed to vote as they have no "skin in the game" so to speak!!! What every Romney paid, he paid a heck of a lot more than others!

    August 3, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Hmm

    John McCain (or at least his team) reviewed Romney's taxes as part of the VP vetting process. Funny how we didn't hear John McCain say in plain language that he reviewed Romney's returns and he can verify that Romney has never not paid taxes for a period of 10 years.

    August 3, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. kramer

    Talk about constant Republicon Twisted Hypocrisy

    – Rmoney is the One who need to PUT UP (his Tax Returns) or SHUT Up with the Denials..!!!

    August 3, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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