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. james - St. Paul, MN

    Mr. Romney said the right words to the wrong guy. There is simply nothing that will end this controversy except for Romney releasing his tax records. Mr. Romney is the one who needs to put up or shut up about the issue, because he is the only one who can possibly shed light on the truth-–but continues to hide the facts. Romney's continued stonewalling only reinforces the idea that he really, really has something he wants to hide from the voting public.

    August 3, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Beau

    The IRS would have nabbed him if he didn't pay taxes. If your tax return has a red flag, then you get audited. With the amount of money Romney has made, if he didn't pay taxes, he would be in jail for tax evasion at this moment. Also, 7 years is the farthest back an audit takes place. So his returns from 8 years ago and beyond are pointless. How stupid are you people.

    August 3, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. Raf in SF

    I see a halo over Romney. He's perfect. He's done nothing wrong.

    I see a halo over the Republican Party. They are perfect. They are running such a soft positive campaign. They do not lie, they do not cheat they do just say anything to get a vote.

    Remember the old, "Obama where's your birth certificate" ...that was good clean politics. How soon you nasty people forget.

    August 3, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Mike

    If a member of the media raised unsubstantiated claims such as Reid's . . . oh, that's right. Nevermind.

    August 3, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. NameFrank Deery

    We all know now-thanks to "60 Minutes", that
    Congress reps, like Nancy Pelosi, have profited from insider knowlegde-which Is Now illegal. I think Harry Reid needs to come clean there, too-instead of going after Romney without proof.

    Unemployment is at 8.3 per cent today-and
    the Syrian People are living a horrible life-without the UN or NATO or Obama. FDR and Chamberlain played it "safe" in the 1930's. Result: WW2-and millions dead. If Syria falls to terrorists, and it could, and the
    chemical weapons there, beware! While Obama preens, the world darkens.

    August 3, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Raj

    Who the F are you telling Reid to shut up? You fraud you shut up, first disclose your 10 years IT returns You are not still president of US. You shut your mouth and be honest to US citizens.

    August 3, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Jean

    nomorekool, Of course you throw everything out there, and when it comes to truth and ethics, how true and ethical is all the birther, Kenya , musllim stuff, huh? On the other hand, Romney has pulled this tax stunt in the past with his run for the Massuchusetts governorship. Reid says his source is highly reliable regarding Romney's tax situation, so if Romney wants to make a liar out of Ried, just prove it by releasing the past tax returns. Whether if he payed or didn't pay any income tax was technically LEGAL or not , the point is did he pay anything?. All he hs to do to make a liar out of Reid is show us the money. But he won't, and THATS the real disgrace, Too many secrets, too many loose ends, no details of his"plans". .no crediblity.

    August 3, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. Thinkergal

    Reslly classy, Mittens. You could shut up Harry Reid and the rest of us by (ahem) showing your tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Chuk

    McCain is accusing someone else of "erratic behavior"? OMG, consider the source! McCain is not a model of consistency; so much so that some have suspected that years in Vietnamese prison did some serious damage.

    August 3, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. inathens

    Harry Reid is a joke. When he's in the headlines for saying something it's always the most ridiculous stuff that no one with credibility would say. When Reid talks it's obvious he's going for headlines, not substance. Can't believe Nevadans are still electing the clown.

    August 3, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Faith in Fort Wayne

    Obama posted his birth certificate when it was demanded by people who had nothing left to criticize him on. Romney should do the same thing with the last 10 years of his taxes, as it's a far more important issue (obviously). He should ALSO give up his birth certificate! SHOW US YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE, ROMNEY!!!

    August 3, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. CBR

    Why is this story still on the ticker? Romney will not publish his tax statements and Reid is going to harp on this until Romney does,

    The question is why Mr. Romney has not filed his taxes for 2011? Just think if we did not file on time. He has not been acrtually working for hte past four years. What has Mr. Romney done to promote jobs? He put money in off-shore and Swiss accounts. How does this help us?

    August 3, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Sarah

    Show the tax returns and show Harry to be a liar......otherwise, I think Harry has put up. Time to shut up, Mitt.

    August 3, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    Senator Harry Reid needs to quetly take off one of his loafers and whack Romney in the face with it.

    August 3, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Where Were You?

    Fred Fenway: 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...

    Hypocrisy? Irony? Nobody knows? That is complete crap. Of course somebody knows. Romney knows. His wife knows. His tax accountant knows. John McCain says he knows, and Romney's campaign is saying they know. Harry Reid said he talked to somebody who knows. Did he really? Who knows?

    Hypocrisy? Repulicans are accusing President Obama of not being transparent while Mitt Romney hides his tax returns but lets us know he has been audited from "time to time." How's that for hypocrisy for you?

    Romney has a tax plan to reduce taxes (yet again) on higher income earners like himself, but he promises to close tax loopholes at the same time. Which tax loopholes will he close? He's not saying, he's giving absolutely zero details about what his tax plan actually is. If taxes are going to be shifted to the middle class so that the higher income levels can enjoy another tax cut at the expense of the middle class, then middle class America has a right to see what they are going to be paying for should they choose to elect this man as president.

    Romney: Tax cut.
    Middle Class: Taxes raised to offset tax cut for Romney.

    It should come as no surprise that taxpayers are interested in Romney's taxes.

    Why Is that too difficult of a concept to grasp for Republicans?

    August 3, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. John

    You are absolutely correct about your taxes Mitt....It is time to put can't shut up because the American people won't shut up until you show them what they have seen from every other candidate since 1976.

    August 3, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. clarke

    So that is the kinda of a President we would have, "put up or shut up". Nice! Gee, I can't wait, "Mitt to we the people, it will be my way, or no way."

    August 3, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. truth hurts

    why isn't harry reid working on all those bills awaiting senate votes??? why isn't he doing HIS job??? the guy is a joke.

    August 3, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. dah00

    Romney: put up or shut up. And release those tax returns already!

    August 3, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. Arch

    America's foremost wimp talks smak – have we reached the end times?

    August 3, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Republican sadness

    Remember the old "obama where's your birth certificate". Now they say this is all dirty politics?

    Romney where are your tax returns.

    August 3, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. Jimmyd

    If Reid went over the line, Romney can clear it up by releasing his tax returns. I think the IRS should release the tax returns for all public servants, excluding info that can be use for ID theft.

    August 3, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |

    The IRS would have nabbed him if he didn't pay taxes. If your tax return has a red flag, then you get audited. With the amount of money Romney has made, if he didn't pay taxes, he would be in jail for tax evasion at this moment. Also, 7 years is the farthest back an audit takes place. So his returns from 8 years ago and beyond are pointless. How stupid are you people.

    August 3, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
    You don't get it. It's not that he didn't pay taxes or did something illegal. We, the people, want to know HOW MUCH he paid, for instance, for the last couple of years. . . so far, 1 year of released tax returns has revealed Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island accounts, etc., and that he paid around 15%, less than most middle-income citizens. Now, if you don't think there's something fishy about him not wanting to release them, then, that's like having eating a hamburger and calling it a taco. See, tacos have either soft or hard outer shells. Mitt is trying to sell me a taco with buns. Get it?

    August 3, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. John

    You can tell which side is losing....the losing side always has to retract to name calling when the roof is caving in......................."Shut Up", Kiss my a..., Shove it, you dolt, you idiot, you monkey, I am concerned that you are not ready for the Olympics, Your culture is poor because of your low income, Put up or shut up, You are acting immoral, about a little substance, like about the issues rather than calling everyone names and screaming at them.

    August 3, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Ben Frank

    When the people don't have facts, we fill the void with speculation and rumor. It's just human nature, and every leader learns this. Romney can present the tax returns, or deal with the speculation and rumors that fill the void he creates. Given the sloppiness of his Bain regulatory fillings, I'm surprised the accusations aren't worse.

    August 3, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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