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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. Satan

    Why on earth Harry Reid would accuse Mitt Romney of something like this is pretty remarkable. No research. No verification of facts. Nothing. He just talked to someone. That's pretty weak, dude.

    I have little doubt that Mitt Romney is, in fact, probably a tax evader and criminal...but at this point, it's just a gut feeling I have and my own opinion. He's a very, very bad person and lacks any sense of integrity. But until a smoking gun surfaces implicating Romney, I'm not going to state my opinion as a fact.

    August 3, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. tony

    I'm not sure what's worse. Romney saying he won't show us his taxpaying track record before he decided to run for President, or the incredible "justifications" his acolytes are coming out with.

    Imelda Marcos was "successful". She just didn't want to tell her people how she got that way.

    August 3, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  3. GonzoinHouston

    You have to appreciate the irony. This is the birther campaign all over again. How does it feel, right wing? It's actually worse because the truth can still hurt. When the public sees how much he has made and how little he has paid over ten years there will be a general feeling of revulsion. It might be legal but that doesn't make it morally right.

    August 3, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  4. WakeUpPlze

    This reminds me of Obama's Birth Certificate...we never got proof he was born in the United States until after the election was over with. People are real fools if they think that Romney is the only one not paying taxes. I love how the Democrats are trying to pin Romney with not paying taxes...what about Rangel???? Really people? Then this guy, after the oversight The people in this country who think they know a *****ing thing about politics and troll the news websites to rant and rave...need to go bury their heads in the sand and shut up already. The House Ethics Committee found him guilty, and yet the stupid people of Harlem voted for him again! LOL. Now, without proof, the democrats say Romney hasnt paid taxes in years? Another laugh. I say Obama screwed a monkey, but that doesnt make it true! Both these dips***s dont deserve to be President...nor do 90% of the people in Congress. They are all out for themselves, period...and if you think otherwise, your an idiot like them.

    August 3, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  5. CryBabies

    What a pathetic person you have become Harry. Seems as though the WH has sacrificed you for the " cause". Can't come soon enough!

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

    mitt the twit. priceless.

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

    It's not too late GOP, Mit's not official your canidate yet. If I were you I'd want to make sure he's not hiding anything before it is. Think of all the other canidates that have only suspended their run you still have a choice. On second thought maybe not.

    August 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Moderate Sean

    "Russ in Md [said], It is the right of everyone to meet there accuser before having to prove there innocence so Reid should reveal to Mr. Romney who his source is."

    Russ we are not in a court of law, but rather, the court of public opinion. Senator Reid is not obligated to disclose one iota of the information he possess. Also, Russ it's "their", not 'there" sir! Another fine example of our education system at its best being displayed on this blog today.

    August 3, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. BeverlyNC

    Investigators have been looking at why Romney is so afraid of releasing his tax returns and he DID say to the press – "it would give you more things to critcize me for". Tax experts say his returns like show he paid NO taxes for more than 10 years due to creative accounting and loopholes. The real issue being looked at is if Romney committed a felong by not reporting all the money he has hidden in his and Anne's names separately around the world to avoid taxes. It would also show his investments which are primarily overseas and not here in America. Basically it would show him to be a fraud, a cheat, and unAmerican and only concerned with his personal wealth and not the PEOPLE.

    August 3, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. Satan

    @DemsDIgOwnGrave–"He's complied with all election rules." -- That we know of. There's a big difference between saying he's unequivocally in compliance with all the rules and just having misconduct unearthed yet. It's a virtual certainty that every political candidate running for election in November (President, Congress, Senate) actually IS violating probably EVERY election law and rule ever made. Do you want to make a bet to the contrary???

    August 3, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Dave Harris

    Mittens must be hiding something really damaging in his tax returns to be willing to take this kind of heat. What could it be? A lot of rich people don't pay any taxes, everybody knows that. It's not a problem unless one of them wants to get elected by pretending that he follows the same rules as the rest of us. Oops!

    August 3, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Martin

    This is about the least Presidential sounding statement that Mitt has ever made.

    Seriously, if a world leader says something bad about America that he doesn't like his answer is going to be to go on FOX NEWS and tell them to "shut up"?

    Obama released his Birth Certificate (when it wasn't required or requested of any other candidate) to shut up conspiracy theorists and to move on to real problems, whereas Mittens refuses to release any records to shut up his detractors.

    Just goes to show that Mittens very likely has something to hide, and this won't go away. He should release the records, take the short term flak for whatever it is, and move on.

    August 3, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. lies from the right but mostly hate

    Tell me lies tell me sweet little lies tell me tell me lies.

    August 3, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. SEA12

    The economy. . . the economy. . . the economy. . . the economy . . .

    August 3, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. blah blah

    Another desperate lame attempt to herd the sheep. If Romney had broken any tax laws the IRS would be on him like stink on democrat and it would be public record.

    August 3, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. MBSeattle

    Put up or shut up. Sounds to me like Mitt (the man who runs against himself) should hed his own advise and make his tax returns public. Reid is just the guy poking the bear.

    Put your taxes up Mitt.

    August 3, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. CVBCT

    Funny, did not see one report on CNN of Mrs. Obama's $6,800 jacket which she wore the other evening in London! I certainly hope the tax dollars that are paid because "I didn't earn it" didn't pay for it so she could look good.

    August 3, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. SEA12

    @Moderate Sean

    Hmm . . . so the "court of public opinion" takes here-say, lies, and made up allegations as fact?? That's a
    pretty embarrassing justification for smearing Mitt Romney. Can you do better?

    August 3, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  19. Kita

    To anyone saying this is a distraction from the economy; no.

    You see, if/when it comes to light that Romney's been playing by an upper class set of rules on his taxes, it will only further highlight how distant and disconnected he is from the American people. He's a businessman by his own boast and that's been his biggest rationale on how he'll have the expertise to fix the economy.

    The problem is, This country by-for-and-of the people is far different from a business or corporation which is for profit and itself.

    Thus Romney's lifestyle/taxes say a good deal about his financial practices and in turn, how he may run things. It is relevant despite what people say.

    August 3, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. TexaSAM

    I don't know if Rmoney avoided paying his fair share of taxes for the last 10 years or not. But, if he did, that means he took away from our war budgets, right? We could have used some of that Pro-America support by our tax base to uparmour our humvees in Iraq. Or rebuild our VA hospitals. IOW, why be so greedy during war time? That is what hits me as un-American – avoiding personal tax liabilty while our troops die on the battlefields.

    August 3, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. I Think Romney Has Alzheimer's

    Sean Hanninty's show. Fox News. Why is it that Romney will only go on shows that shield him from any meaningful questions and that Romney won't give details about anything? He won't talk to the press and gets these complete blank stares on his face sometimes when he actually is faced with a question from the real media. He avoids ansering questions, and he won't commit to anything. I heard him refuse to tell a reporter what book he was actually reading. I don't think he can actually remember what he is saying from one day to the next. He will say something in a speech, and then he will actually tell a reporter asking questions that he never actually said that. Like the whole Palenstinian culture issue. He actually said he never said it, but he wrote an op-ed saying the exact same thing the day he claimed not to have said it in the first place.

    Has anyone else noticed that Romney is showing classic signs of Alzheimer's disease? I am not joking. I used to think he was just a pathological liar, but the more I see him speak lately, he is actually starting to look like the classic case. Seriously.

    August 3, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. Satan

    @tony, excellent point, man. If someone is successful, great. No one holds that against them. If you won't say how you became successful, then it raises serious questions about how you got that way. If I became as filthy rich as Mitt Romney is honestly, I'd be screaming from the rooftops about how my story should be an inspiration to others. I wouldn't hide my tax records from public scrutiny while trying to get a job with the most visible PUBLIC SERVICE job on the planet.

    Conservatives actually do have a legitimate complaint against Harry Reid right now. His accusation is ridiculous without evidence to back it up. No question. But then again, Romney IS hiding something he doesn't want people to see. If the same conservatives do not have a problem with that they tread dangerously close to making their concerns ring hollow with everyone since all conservatives do is complain about much so that they have convinced themselves that they are the only island of grounded logic in a sea of insanity. They already come off as paranoid schizophrenics with some of their views...the last thing the Democrats need to do is something like this that actually offers SOME credibility to their concerns.

    August 3, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  23. Tyrone

    We all know that the mittster is not worth 2 Fiddy Mill. he is worth more than a Billion. & yes he pays next to 0 in taxes. he is a very very Special man. You Mitt, no its you that should put up or shut up. overseas accounts that shelter you paying Uncle Sam.

    August 3, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. REP

    Again here we go Mr. Romney has showed what is required of him to show and don't you people think that if he has not paid taxes in the last ten years IRS would be all over him??? I have a very reliable source myself and I was told that Harry Reid is a crook stealing from the American people. He needs to prove he is not!

    August 3, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. Wake up people

    It's so funny watching the rethuglicans make excuses for why Willard shouldn't do the exact same thing every other candidate has done, starting with his supposed beloved father. These same people held secret meetings and couldn't shut up about President Obama's birth certificate. A lousy birth certificate means nothing. How many other sitting POTUS's had to show their birth certificate? Let me answer for you. NOT ONE! Does anyone with half a brain think Barack Hussein Obama would have even been nominated had he not provided everything everyone else did? He would never have gotten the nomination, let alone the presidency if everything in his life was not on the up and up.

    Now we have the vulture capitalist Willard with offshore accounts and a sketchy business record and we're just supposed to take his word that he is truthful? Do you people think we are crazy? Or are you? If the POTUS can be forced to show his birth certificate, the least Willard can do is show his taxes like every other presidential candidate. What's the big deal?

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 3, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44