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. Squigman

    Let's see who's king of the hill in this playground. The person calling for disclosure, or the person fighting against it.

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

    Actually, Romney needs to put up or shut up. It's simple: release your tax returns.

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

    SEA - While it's true that the nature of succeeding and having prosperity is what is great about the U.S. - but, to excuse the tactics by which Romney used to accomplish his personal success does and should be fully public so that voters can form a fair opinion. How are people to trust him if he's so secretive about his taxes? Do you not think that a leader should exude traits of honesty and integrity? It's one thing if we were talking about transcripts from school but, when it comes to how you manage your money, how you earned it - that should be public so we know what you're about. He's hiding things - and it just makes many of us question his integrity.

    August 3, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |

    Doesn't Romney realize that he's getting taxboated?

    What a putz.

    August 3, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Satan

    "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama

    As other people have already pointed out, this quote was taken out of context, so no need to revisit that issue. But even by itself the quote is correct. An entrepreneur doesn't make a business successful by sheer force of will. No entrepreneur knows how to do everything. They need tax people, finance people, labor, etc... Without them, and without the incentive to take a risk there would be no busness at all. Every successful business in America owes it's success to the people that make it work...not JUST the founder/owner.

    August 3, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Age of Fools...

    Harry Reid not only looks sour-grapes but acts like it....Romney made lots of money for a long time and paid taxes...if the tax system has loop-holes than Harry Reid is part of the problem for nor fixing it....Romney's net earings after taxes is his to do as he pleases....hiding here or there or keeping it under his mattress nobodys business...least sour-grape Harry Reid....Romney is right..."Put- up or shut-up.".......

    August 3, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. benjaminkuchera

    How about this -Every single political candidate and elected official from senator to governor, vice president, president put out their last 10 years of tax returns as a new standard -ALL of them.. If Romney can be under this scrutiny, why not all of them. Heck, why not throw in everyone at the DOD, DOJ, FBI, NSA, the Supreme Court and Homeland Security staff. They are our hired people. They are paid by us. We the people are their employer. We deserve universal disclosure, not special focus for political clout.

    We all want real change. I'm surprised OCW hasn't made a call for any and all people in politics to release 10 years of tax returns. And, that is a standard that should be set for real change.

    I think you'll find that many people, even Harry Reid, will pipe down quite quickly. And, most of them, who hide their money because they want it safe, will squirm. I also think we won't be surprised to see that all if not most keep money in off-shore accounts.

    Lets get 10 years of the Obamas taxes NOW.

    There should be no favorites.

    August 3, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Zsmith

    Romnay can prove him wrong by releasing his tax information. This issue is not going to go away. Must be some real
    bad info in forms.

    August 3, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Canuck

    " Romney said on Sean Hannity's radio show."

    When is he going to answer to a real reporter I wonder???

    August 3, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. i want a mega rich Mormon who hides his money overseas, and a master tax evader as presiden

    Robme is lying bout something.

    August 3, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Mike Buck

    The Democrats are finally starting to use ROVARIAN POLITICS on the RepubliCONS and the Take Education Away (aka TEA) PARTYcan't stand it!

    August 3, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. jason

    Why would an investor with Bain Capital know about Romney's tax returns? Seems odd that an investor would be privy to that type of information. Harry's accusations just don't pass the smell test.

    August 3, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Mike

    Well it is interesting, that the McCain camp looked at his tax records in 08, and immediately dropped him like a hot potato, YES there is something wrong with his tax records and he and his handlers know it. If they were released he would be a dead duck, his campaign would be OVER. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, IT IS A DUCK.

    August 3, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. rschier

    ".Romney made lots of money for a long time and paid taxes"

    How do you know ? I certainly wouldn't bet any of my money on this assumption.

    August 3, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Satan

    "Romney's net earings after taxes is his to do as he pleases....hiding here or there or keeping it under his mattress nobodys business" -– You don't know what Romney's net earnings after taxes is because he's only released 2 years of tax returns. So you know as much as your liberal opponents do. Romney is stonewalling everyone on the issue. And yes it is the public's business if he's hiding something. It raises serious concerns about what he's doing with all that UNEARNED capital gains income he makes if he won't just release the tax returns. Obama has. If Romney is all squared away, he's got nothing to worry about. I don't want a potential white collar criminal to be running this country like Bain Capital.

    I think Reid is wrong for insinuating that Romney is a tax evader without proof. No one, including Romney, should be subjected to that kind of vitriol. But the longer he refuses to do that, the more guilty it makes him look...especially since Romney has never said anything about what he plans to do with the tax code if he is elected. You can't find those words anywhere. He has never answered any question about what his plans for taxes are. That, coupled with his refusal to share his returns, makes him look pretty guilty of SOMETHING. If you disagree you're just being hypocritical. You know Fox News would crucify Obama or any other liberal for refusing to do the same thing.

    August 3, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Wake up people

    No one is asking Willard to do anything the other candidates haven't done, you know, like providing a birth certificate, we just want to see him do the same thing every other candidate has done. I might not be so gung ho had Willard not sat there so smug while Donald Chump and Ted Nugent labeled President Obama as a Kenyan. Had Willard one time told the chump to sit down and shut up, I might ease up on him. But no the bully coward did what all bully cowards do, nothing.

    In the words of the empty suit that should be hanging on the rack at K Mart.... What's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 3, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Tom

    Reid said: People who make as much money as Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes.
    Doesn't he realize that by saying this he is complaining about himself and Congress? The tax code, with all its *tricks* was written by Congress, and Reid with the rest of the lawmakers have always had the power to close those loopholes. The reason the *tricks* Reid speaks about are still in the tax code is due to Congress' failure to do something... because they are beholden to their wealthy campaign contributors. Reid must not realize he's pointing this out in the process of accusing Romney of... gasp... following the existing tax code! Not too bright, Harry.

    August 3, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Toughlove

    Reid is practicing dirty politics, period. Keep pushing for Romney to disclose more tax records if you want but to simply pull an anonymous source out of his butt is awful. A dirty boxer he is! By the way, demonizing successful people and assuming they must have done something illegal or immoral to become successful is simply the maneuvering of a low-life politician or the cry an envious individual who more than likely plays the victim card for their own failures or lack of motivation to overcome the obstacles that we all share. Live long and prosper, Romney! Live long and prosper, Chik-Fil-A! Live long and PROSPER every American who rather than suck at the teat of the govt, is willing to pay the price and run the inherent risks that come with striving for a better life.

    August 3, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. rufus

    When I look at the picture of Harry Reid's face and his necktie somehow all I can think about is prunes. That's what ol' Harry needs –a big dose of prunes to rid himself of his huge load of sh!t.

    August 3, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. justicenonexistent

    I think he should be able to go after Reid and either the man backs up his words or he forfiets all he owns to Romney. Romney has done everything he was supposed to and he's played relatively nice unitl now.

    The dems and obama have a ton of skeletons in their closet, I hope Romney exposes them for what they are, irresponsible, dishonest idiots.

    Here's to getting Romney and a ton of Tea Party Republicans in Washington next year!!!

    August 3, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. dave

    Are you concerned that a person getting $200/month in food stamps might not use them responsibly.

    ARe you concerned that a person runnig for President would try to deduct $77K per year for his wife's horse. Deduct means make you and I pay for her horse.

    August 3, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |

    You Romney apologists don't get it, do you? Your candidate is playing defense when he should be on the offense. Anything he's thrown at Obama, even though it's worthy of debate, is not sticking because of this vacuous tax returns distraction. It goes to show you: the more Romney responds to it, the more credible the story becomes to the public. The birther issue is a dead horse (except for the looney tunes folks, of course) because Obama did not address it himself directly; he let his surrogates and administration staff do it. Hello? If it isn't true? Then why does Romney defend himself so passionately? And, curiously, only on the FOX NOISE channel? The plot thickens. Hope you all have popcorn.

    August 3, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  23. Bleedingheart

    I'm certainly not a Romney fan, but what if as many suspect he paid little or no taxes those ten years. The tax code is written by the wealthy for the benefit of the wealthy. My guess is that Mitt's CPAs, and I'm sure he has a pot full of them, did everything legal right up to the edge, but didn't cross it. That's what they're paid to do. It may not be right, but don't blame Mitts and his gang for being smart to know and use the system.

    August 3, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. spartan74

    You're the one that needs to put up or shut up Willard. Any honest person would have released their taxes at the beginning to show they have nothing to hide. You, on the other hand, are obviously hiding something that would be far more damaging than the hammering you're taking for not releasing them. You're asking us to make you President of the United States. We have the right to know everything we want to know about you before we trust you with our country. However, you continue to refuse to let us know the truth about you. So, either put up your taxes and let us judge who you really are or shut up. You haven't earned the right to speak to us.

    August 3, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  25. yep

    COnsidering what ROmney's father said about tax returns I am surprised and curious about the reasons he is not releasing more of his tax records. Something smells fishy.

    August 3, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 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