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. md22mdrx

    Romney can settle this.


    Prove Reid WRONG!!!!

    Sad thing is ...... YOU CAN'T!!!!!

    August 3, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. jaimie

    Mr. Romney, you put up or shut up. It takes integrity and honesty to run for president. Mr. Romney, all of us pay our share of tax each month out of our pay checks. However, you refuse to divulge your offshore business dealings with the money you made and tax paid. That is dishonest. What are you hiding from the american public Mr. Romney? If you are being honest and there is no wrongdoing why then will you not produce the information? And you want to be president Mr, Romney? What are you telling the american public? We see it as you are trying to hide money you did not pay tax on. Step down Mr. Romney, you for one have shown the american tax paying people that there are those like you who DO NOT pay your tax by hiding your money elsewhere. Where is your integrity and honesty?

    August 3, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Lisa P


    If he paid nothing all power to him. GE paid nothing in taxes one year and we heard not a whisper from the loons in the media. I know I take every deduction possible and pride myself on getting every break possible and have plenty of rich Democrat friends who do the same. If you want to pay more go ahead but I don't and would rather give that money to my church and organizations that share my goals and that of my family.
    August 3, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm

    If, as you say, GE's not paying taxes created no stir in the media and was not at all a huge black eye for both GE and corporate America in general, then why shouldn't Mitt release his tax records? After all, according to you, he broke no laws, and surely no one in America will be even slightly interested in learning how the laws we now have allow the super rich to get super richer by stiffing our government and, by extension, us. I mean, come on, the Olympics are on! What better time to teach us all how the other 1% do their business?

    August 3, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. cali girl

    Go ahead Robmey, prove him wrong by showing your tax returns. That really is the "put up or shut up" you should be thinking about.

    August 3, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Jules

    Tax returns vs. college transcripts ,,,,hmmmmmmmm, let's see now.

    August 3, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. AL In Palm Beach County, FL

    CNN lend me $10K

    I'll bet you this $10K from CNN that I paid more in taxes in that last 10 years than you have in the last 30 years.

    August 3, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Greg

    I'm a supporter of President Obama, but I think Mr. Reid may have been out of line. On the other hand, Mr. Romney probably just doesn't want to show how little he paid in comparison to what he made. For example: Maybe he only paid 11% as opposed to maybe a gardner paying 18%. I'm just saying.

    August 3, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Fred Fenway

    November CANNOT come soon enough... The hypocrisy in all of this is so irritating and here's why: Nobody knows what Romney's tax returns look like for years past – but the assumption being made is that he's hiding something like maybe he paid very little or no taxes. Here's the irony... There is not a single person on this board, in the media, in the White House, in the Republican Party, in the Democratic Party or even the COMMUNIST Party that, if they had Romney's wealth, wouldn't take advantage of EVERY SINGLE opportunity to save money on taxes. I know I would...

    Hate his politics? Fine... Hate his constant flip-floppery? Great... Hate his religion? You're a bigot- but whatever... But you can't honestly and in good faith criticize a guy for being successful AND savvy enough to save money where money can be saved – whether it's here or in the Cayman Islands. All of us would do exactly the same thing if we were in that same (very elegant) boat and we all know it. If you say you wouldn't then your either a liar or an idiot. Or, more likely, both.

    August 3, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Tim

    It would be nice to "put up" but Mitt won't "put up" his tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Jules

    Please note that John McCain never once said that Romney paid federal taxes every year and he claims to have seen the returns. That says a lot. Wonder when Johnny boy will come back with the lie to cover this up?

    August 3, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Satan

    "It takes integrity and honesty to run for president." -– I literally LOL'd when I read that. There are no honest people who go into elected office. None. Never have been, never will be. The only way to get elected, and you can apply this to class president or POTUS, is by cheating or lying or both. Honest people never run for any kind of office.

    August 3, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. rs

    You know, politicians are not a good group to follow when they say "trust me".

    In Mr. Romney's case, in light of the lies of Mr. Nixon (Watergate), Mr. Reagan (Iran/Contra), and especially Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney (WMDs, Halliburton, PATRIOT Act, Valerie Plame and more), saying "trust me I paid my taxes" assures me of the polar opposite. Mr. Romney has been caught in so many lies and rhetorical backtracks- he simply has no credibility. The calls here for his tax returns proves that most people simply don't trust him or believe him.

    August 3, 2012 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Smacky Smooth

    You first Mr. Romney..what is your agenda, platform, history, ideals (not the ones you change from one state to the next)? It is too easy to tell the other guy "shut up"–that is juvenile. Why dont you just shout "nya nya nya" or give him the finger? I expect more of an individual who want to steer the helm of the county. Oh and dont start the Obama Hate rhetoric..I am an independent and would say the same to him had he been the speaker of such a comment.

    August 3, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Emperor Vadik, CA

    I thought (according to Tea Partiers) that 50% of people didn't pay their taxes...

    ...and they kept saying Liberals are the ones who didn't...

    ...turns out their Billionaire Presidential nominee is that American who did not pay his taxes...

    August 3, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Jules

    What? – You are wrong and Cathy L is correct. If his mother was a US Citizen when he was born or if he was born in the country he is a US Citizen. Give that old birther argument up. You are just so wrong and so dumb to keep it up.

    August 3, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. ABCD

    Romney is seeking votes from people. In order to get them he has to convince every voter that he is a reliable person and trustworthy. He can do so by releasing his Tax Returns and not resisting.

    August 3, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Smacky Smooth

    Yes the same admonishment could go to Reid as well. No wonder he is not a statesman. Dont start getting high and mighty GOP about the tax returns, i recall other elections where you were all a bunch of complainers about others showing their returns. When did both parties become such fraternity BRATS?

    August 3, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Satan

    It's also funny that Sean Hannity is now, magically, Romney's friend. Hannity wouldn't have been caught dead talking to Romney for any reason when he was governor. Hannity is a right-wing political cleric who's been engaged in an all-out jihad against reason and sanity since he was pulled off a Santa Barbara street corner, cleaned up, pumped full of amphetamines, and had a microphone put in front of his face.

    August 3, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. rlj

    Why doesn't Romney "put up" his tax records?

    August 3, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Elis

    Show us your taxes Romney, put up or shut up!!!

    August 3, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  21. Yakobi

    How many more lies are the left going to spew before their bedfellows–the mainstream media–call them on it?

    August 3, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. rlj

    " All of us would do exactly the same thing if we were in that same (very elegant) boat and we all know it. If you say you wouldn't then your either a liar or an idiot."

    Or you could be a moral person.

    August 3, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Independent

    Funny, seems to me that the dems are getting really really desperate!!! LOL

    August 3, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Yakobi

    Why does anyone care how much Romney paid in taxes the previous 10 years????????????????

    Don't you people have more important things to worry about like the drought and JOBS????

    August 3, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Oy

    Mitt's donations to the Mormon church benefit anyone except for the church? I don't think so...
    You assume that because someone has wealth that a. this person worked hard to get it and/or has initiative b. that people with wealth create jobs. Both are untrue. Sorry. And recognizing that is neither "class warfare" nor is it ascribing to Communism.


    It used to be that people in our country held in highest esteem any individual who, through his/her own work and initiative, built business and/or companies into very successful enterprises. Now, the efforts of class warfare (pitched by the Obama supporters), have us all deriding and heckling the wealthy Americans who made those fortunes themselves. Extreme wealth IS questionable in a society where the poor have great need. However, Mr. Romney donates millions to his church and to his community – many eventually benefit from his wealth. In order to allow capitalism to flourish, there will be some whose efforts create enormous personal wealth. The is another system; it's called Communism. Want that one?"

    August 3, 2012 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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