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. Romney is not My Hero

    Even the conservatives are calling horse-Mitt on his taxes. Why doesn't he just move to Poland, live with his new friend and leave U.S. alone!!!

    OBAMA 2012!!!!

    August 3, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. JimWW

    As a Republican who even recently ran for office I am embarassed by Romney. The response from the voting public should be open up, tax returns, or drop out. Here is a man who John McCain vetted and chose Palin over. That should give you pause to think twice.
    By the way I submitted complete tax returns several years back as well as even college transcripts to further prove that I was open to the people I wanted to represent. If you are not willing to open up, then get out of the political arena.

    August 3, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. Satan

    Don't run for public office if you don't want to be TSA'd and have your life turned upside down. That's the game you're in, Mitt. If you don't want to share your returns, don't run for President. If you were a private citizen hiding income from the government none of us would likely care (except the Justice Department maybe...and they'd eventually get your tax records with a court order). Do you want to go that route, Mitt? Presidential candidates are expected to release their income and tax data. That's just the nature of the world you live in, quit dodging it and RELEASE YOUR TAX RETURNS. Quit being a tool. He's acting like a toddler who doesn't want a shot. The more you fight it the more painful it's going to get, pal.

    August 3, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Benjamin can't Google


    It took me about 30 seconds to pull up the Obama's tax returns from 2000 – 2011. They were PUBLICALLY released. I think the site was– find it for yourself.

    Biden's are there as well for the same years, I believe.

    Also, while you're at it, look up the history of Presidential candidates releasing tax returns– the lowest are Romney (who technically hasn't met the minimum 2 year standard and John McCain. Maybe you should do a little research before shooting your "mouth" off next time.

    August 3, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Jonathan

    Reid is such a clown! He said, "Romney MAY HAVE paid no taxes. We will never know because he won't release his tax returns." Well with that logic I can say that Reid was born from a monkey until I see his birth video!

    August 3, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. kelvin

    thats a big no no mr romney

    August 3, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Debby

    This is very shameful by Reid he should put the souce out there or like Romney said shut up.

    August 3, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  8. jo

    The 'fight' between these me hope that Mormons can be more than Mormons...they can be USA citizens...Go Harry!

    August 3, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. Benjamin can't Google

    ** oops, should read: ...Romney (who technically hasn't met the minimum 2 year standard) and John McCain.

    August 3, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. rosie

    Harry Reid. What can you say about such a dou che. I cannot think of one reason to ever listen to anything that walking tu rd sack has to say. Romney would be best to ignore him, like the rest of us do. PLEASE someone, anyone, replace him. I would take a Republican in his place at this point.

    August 3, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  11. DB

    Well, there you go!
    Now we'll never see Romney put out more taxes, because if these accusations are true, he doesn't want to come looking like a liar for denying it...
    On the other hand, people can't be too naive to see that if someone doesn't want to show you something, than they are hiding something...And you can't use the excuse that you don't want the opposing party critiquing your return...because that is pathetic,...that's the whole point moron....all presidents get criticized, but only in America do we elect people without knowing whats in their closet!

    August 3, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Wake up people

    @benjaminkutchera, sorry to burst your bubble but President Obama HAS provided 10 years of his taxes, just as all other presidential candidates before him have done. Also if I'm not mistaken all members of congress must do the same periodically.

    No one is picking on Willard, we are just requesting he do the same thing everyone else has. His reluctance speaks volumes. Try as he might, this issue will not go away, just like the issue of President Obama's birth certificate didn't and still that wasn't enough.

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 3, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. richd

    So it appears you can say anything if it starts with "I heard"... and then say prove it's not true....

    OK ...

    I heard Barack hung out with a bomber – prove you didn't
    I heard Barack was born outside of the US – prove you were not
    I heard Harry Reid is gay and a drug user – prove your not

    See how stupid that approach is? If you have facts Harry spit them out or shutup!

    August 3, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. Stop the madness

    are you surprise that Mr Romney filed for tax extention?, meaning he only provided 2011 taxes. Before he finally got to show 2012 taxes the election will be almost over. Harry have anything to prove but Money is the one that needs to prove Harry wrong by showing his taxes like any other candidates that have ran for the office of presidency befoe him. He lied to become the Governor of massachusetts and wants to do the same thing to become the president of U.S.A
    Mr. Romney show your taxes and prove senator Reid wrong. until them Mr flip floper senator ried is right. It's not enough to say the senator put up or shut up, NO Romney is the one that needs to PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

    August 3, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Sean

    When voters elect the president, they put the economy of the entire nation in hands of that person. It is the enormous TRUST that the receiver can not take it so easily. He has to earn it by showing he is trusted too. It goes both ways and not one way only. Romney must convince voters on this by releasing his Tax Returns.

    August 3, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. Thor

    If the law says Romney must show his tax returns further back, then so be it. But... the law does not require that. The law DOES require that when someone makes a public accusation of lawbreaking, that the accuser prove that fact or get subjected to liable or contempt.......

    August 3, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. Buckeye

    @ Benjaminkuchera
    It's really really really very easy. You can easily view 10 years worth of President Obama's taxes. Just keep your eyes open when you visit them online. Simple.
    Now Willard on the other hand....still hiding his. Makes a lot of us wonder why that is. Must be pretty damning if he's going through this much trouble. What's Willard hiding? Do you wonder just how much more he'd save for himself and the other 0.1% under his plan while sticking it to the middle class?

    August 3, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. john smith

    Harry has shaken Sinatra's hand, I believe, so he's bound to be forth right about his belief in his source's ability and trust to tell the truth. If Harry chose his source incorrectly, Harry should "take the heat" in Las Vegas and Nevada. This is at the core meaning of the hand shake especially in the middle of a presidential election. Harry's speaks close to his shirt so I give him an edge, though John MCcain is man of high integrity and a great American. Maybe I'll switch over to MCcain after thinking about it.....just kidding......for me I hope that they're both right.....I like both of these guys....

    August 3, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Name

    This dude Romney is a CROOK !!!!, He reminds me of Bush, Everytime he opens his mouth hes getting in trouble. But hey mabye his statagy of keep my mouth shut and release the least amount of personal info to be the most powerfull man on earth might work ...

    August 3, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Robert Maynard

    In answer to DB, I suppose we need to wonder why the president called for executive exemption for the attorney general and both their involvement in Gun running and death of a a Border Patrolman.

    August 3, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. NFL

    How did Obama's birth records come back in here – he DID release the long form original certificate! If Romney would release his taxes, there could be review and no more questions...unless there ARE big ticket items hidden!

    August 3, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Jones

    The refusal to disclose what all other presidential candidates in modern history have disclosed, is concerning.

    Romney declared he has paid "a lot of taxes". No doubt he paid property taxes and sales taxes and probably also taxes on his many employees.

    But did he pay FEDERAL INCOME taxes? That is the subject of the debate.

    Romney is a master of doublespeak. I can't believe Hannity as a journalist didn't ask for the clarification.

    August 3, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Dan E

    @Debby "This is very shameful by Reid he should put the souce out there or like Romney said shut up."

    You know, there is one way to clear this whole thing up. If only there was some way to properly release this kind of information and everyone could shut up. If there were just a way to prove that I paid taxes the past 5, 6, 8 or 10 years. I think I should invent a way to prove....what....what's that you say....there is a way.....OH...he can just release his tax it!

    He's going to have to eventually, the longer he takes just makes him look like he is hiding something even if he's not. Its not like he is arguing some moral principle that we don't deserve to know the kind of money he made, he is just avoiding the whole thing. Eventually they are going to have to come out why not take the heat 96 days before election instead of 20 days when it will be fresh in people's minds...

    August 3, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. Chilly

    ...and this guy, who tells people from the other party to "Shut Up," wants to be our top diplomat to the rest of the world????

    August 3, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. Jones

    I think there is another reason – in addition to the political damage he might personally sustain – why Romney refuses to disclose his effective income tax rate.

    If he paid little, it would throw cold water on the please of the super-rich to reduce their income taxes even more.

    August 3, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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