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. clarke

    No problem harassing the President of the USA about a birth certificate for three years. You will respect my wishes, I do not have to respect yours or anyone's, I am Mitt I get my way, one way or another.

    August 3, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. toobad4u

    so let me see if i understand this correctly.. any one can accuse anyone of something .. and unless you prove otherwise.. your immediately guilty..

    WOW.. why hasn't the court system started doing it this way?.. it would save billions

    August 3, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. richwood7

    Romney and the GOP couldn't tell the truth if it jumped up and bit them in the nose. In fact I believe somewhere in the GOP platform is a clause that any Republican who speaks the truth will be expelled from the party. They created this mess, have had almost 98 filibuster to stop progress and want to repeat what they did between 2000 and 2008. I hope the Democrates filbuster every GOP attempt to continue the murder and slaughter that the GOP feels is necessary for the poor, lowere, and middle class in order to give more money to the aristocracy. One of Reagan's Sec. of the Treasury said "That when it comes to Republicans talking about tax cuts, what they are really saying is cut the taxes for the wealthy."

    August 3, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Rich Parks

    Willard Romney has rolled far away from the tax disclosure tree (his father, who also named him WILLARD) Willard? Willard? Who got the best of Willard in some 70's movie?... Hmmmm? Oh Yes, BEN did (King Rat Rove) Its appearent either, his father didn't teach him very well, or he and his minion, have a contextual comprehension problem. Willard your not just distancing yourself from Bane Capitol while you reap the lions share of the profits as they ship jobs overseas. If you can't be totally open in your quest for highest office in the land, then your hiding something, much the way money manipulators hide cash overseas.

    August 3, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    It is sad to see a presidential candidate say "shut up" to a senate majority leader. I don't care what party you support but all of us should expect some civility from the least let the surrogates do the cussing.

    August 3, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. ProperVillain

    More intelligent discourse brought to you by our overpaid, under worked, and sub par intelligence members of congress...

    August 3, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. ron

    Does romney really think the American people will elect a guy who hedged AGAINST the United States??? I'll bet he had companies lined up to buy the auto companies if they had gone bankrupt. Poor willard. Put up or shut up. No, just shut up and go away to bermuda or the cayman islands before the IRS tracks down your money laundering scheme and sends you and the rest of the Bain execs to prison!

    August 3, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. j14401s

    Finally someone who will tell him to shut the hell up. Reid looks like a slimy old guy.

    August 3, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. The Jackdaw

    Pout Pout Stomp Stomp. "I'm a republican!" Stomp Stomp Stomp "Don't make me think! You are stupid!" Pout Pout

    August 3, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. CitizenAJ

    What a punk. He goes to FOX News, the republican network, to tell Reid to put up or shut up. How weak, how typical. You know, he played right into Reid's trap, made him talk about his tax returns. As he rants about people making a big deal why he has not relased them, people are asking themselves, "why haven't you released them?' LOL! The drama!

    August 3, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Heretic897

    Romney wont releaes his taxes. He has successfully gamed the system, socked away MILLIONS in every tax shelter, foreign bank, written off every expense and found every loophole to avoid paying "one more dime then he had to". Not illegal, just embarrassing as hell when he has to explain to the struggling American people. The Dems will make him a poster-boy for what is wrong with our economy and have a slam-dunk in November. Rich people don't get/stay rich by spending money...

    August 3, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Jake

    Let's see, I work for a succesful company and some of my co workers at comparable levels earn about the same wage....I think? Every April 16th we all gather at Starbucks and swap our tax returns so that everyone knows what I make and I know what they make and I know who paid taxes and who didn't. Frankly, I don't know what world you live in but that is not he world I live in. So Harry.....Put up or Shut up....tell us your source.

    August 3, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. A Southern Lady - North Carolina

    I believe Mitt Romney is a good man but he has had to become someone he is NOT to gain the support of the Republican party dominated by the Tea Party. Mitt will not release his tax information. Mitt says he left Bain but was still their owner and CEO. Mitt will not talk about his time as governor of Mass. Mitt will not talk about the medical coverage given to residents of Mass when he was governor, the basis for Obamacare. He should be proud of what he has accomplished but he can not do that and remain the Republican candidate. Doesn't that say a lot about the GOP?

    August 3, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Mike

    Lets see if the tough guy would say that to Reid's face (and if you know Harry's background) you know Romney would get KTFO'd. As for Romney paying taxes, only ones that know for sure are his accountant, someone at the IRS and the big guy upstairs. Since Robme admittedly doesn't read forms before he signs them I might believe that he himself has no idea what he's paid and not paid.

    August 3, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. obamaliar

    did harry take one too many punches in his boxing career????

    August 3, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Heretic897

    Romney will not release his taxes. It would be too embarrasing. He has gamed and found every loophole there is, socked money away overseas. IF they came out, the Dems would pounce like a starving dog on a steak. How does he get 100million in a 401k when the most you can put in 22000/yr??

    August 3, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Zil Zerimar

    Mitty the Twitty alias Pooper is not paying taxes? That's what you call America Land of the Free!!! So that's how he became rich...thtough filthy ways!!! Then he is saying that he loves America.......pwe!!!

    August 3, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Sean

    LIke Mccain should talk about making aligations without a shread of evidence.. how about all that talk about the so called "leaks" that came from the whitehouse... where's the evidence in that?

    August 3, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Time for a real change!

    Obama should step in and tell Reid to shut it. False allegations are a poor way to run a campaign, especially ones that he freely admits he has no idea of the truth.

    August 3, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Alfuc

    NO we won't shut up until you release your TAX RETURNS FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS! Mr. Romney, you are a cheat hiding your money abroad to avoid US Taxes. Prove that you didn't do that.

    August 3, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. obamaliar

    fk u disqus or should I say Disgust

    August 3, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Time for a real change!


    It is sad to see a presidential candidate say "shut up" to a senate majority leader. I don't care what party you support but all of us should expect some civility from the least let the surrogates do the cussing.


    Have you lost your mind? Do you actually condone the anonymous and rumor monger hack that Reid pulled? Talk about a complete lack of ethics!

    August 3, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Sean T

    mittens sure has some mighty thin skin. and a limited response vocabulary

    August 3, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. joeymom

    The only way to put up is to show the proof that the taxes were paid. So... were they? If they were, that would be a HUGE slap in the face of democrats... so why isn't Romney leaping at the chance???

    August 3, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Keeping it Real

    @richwood7 "Romney and the GOP couldn't tell the truth if it jumped up and bit them in the nose"

    I suppose the facts mean nothing to you here? Reid freely acknowledged that the truth of his statement was suspect. This amounts to allegations that are completely unsubstantiated and he should be held accountable. I'd imagine that word "ethics" doesn't mean much to a liberal like yourself, so here, this might help:

       [eth-iks] Show IPA
    plural noun
    ( used with a singular or plural verb ) a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.
    the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.
    moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.
    ( usually used with a singular verb ) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.

    August 3, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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