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. Melvin

    Sooner or later someone–legally or illegally by hacking–is going to release all of Mitt's tax returns. Then his day of reckoning will come mighty quickly. I wonder if the Tea/Rethugs can find another candidate at this late of a time...

    August 3, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. roger

    Wait, I thought McCain said he has seen the tax returns when we was searching for a VP 4 years ago. If he had, he could say without a doubt that these accusations are false. But he's not. Only that he wants to know the source.

    August 3, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. TamarS

    nice behavior for a president, huh? romney has no class.

    August 3, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Jonquil

    He probably didn't pay any tax for a decade. He would've sinced released his returns if he had. And we subsidized Ralfaca. Ralfaca's cute, but don't you think multi-millionaires who don't have to pay any tax for a decade, might be able to spot for the expense without our help?

    August 3, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. nomorekoolaid

    Jean and Others Popping Off About the Birther Stuff,

    There wasn't a very big percentage of the Republican Party making a stink about the birther issue, and certainly not his opponent for the White House race. But here you have the Senate Majority Leader and the Obama campaign coming out with multiple things every evasion accusation, accusation of felony over Bain Capital role, outright lies about Bain Capital shipping jobs overseas. Obama entire political history is based on destroying opponents' character in order to win. Look it up, all the way back to his Senate Races and up thru beating Hillary Clinton in the Demo Primary. Chicago mob politics. That's how he wins without the credentials or the record or the plan to back it up. And whenever he goes off the prompter and off the message of trashing his opponent, and tries to talk about his ideas, you get comments like "You didn't build that" or "people clinging to their guns and their religion".

    August 3, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Time for a Real Change!

    I have a creditable source that says that Obama stole money from Girl Scouts. My source is anonymous, but it must be true, because I read it on the internet!

    August 3, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Babyboomer

    I think we have all begun to notice that Romney can be very stubborn when it comes to letting the public know about his financials, off shoring, taxes, etc. Yet he want us to trust him to do right by the American people as President. I don't trust this guy as far as I can throw him. Folks, this is what "UNEARNED PRIVILEGE" looks like. Obama/Biden 2012.

    August 3, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Luke Brown

    Why doesn't Romney just release his tax returns instead of letting them be such an issue?

    Most politicians release their returns in the late summer when no one is paying attention. When people do start paying attention, the tax return issue is old news. Everyone knows he is rich, and that he gives a boatload of money to the Mormon Church.

    August 3, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. therealbartonfunk

    Romney: "Hi America. When I ran for Governor of Mass I said to trust me, I said I'll tell you the truth. I said I've filed my taxes in Mass every year without fail. Well, I lied. I actually filed my taxes in Utah for a few years. Now, when I was caught lying I said to trust me. That I was an honest man, but I just didn't look at my tax returns. Someone else prepared them for me. I'm supposed to be a smart business man, but not when it comes to taxes apparently. So, now I'm again asking American to trust me. I either am telling the truth about my taxes. Or again I've been ignorant and someone else prepared them for me and I just don't know the truth. But trust me, PLEASE! Frankly, you should trust me since I've been as evasive as possible when answering questions. I keep telling you that I've paid all the taxes that I owe – which might be none. And I've also said that I've paid plenty of taxes – just not IRS taxes .. you know sales tax, property tax .. those taxes. So America Trust me one last time!"

    August 3, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. JerseyGirl

    Reid said he got this from a very reliable Bain source. BUT MORE importantly, how could Willard have MILLIONS & MILLIONS in an IRA account when the MAXIMUM is $5,000. per year? There will be dozens & dozens of questions to be asked & answered about 'ol Willard, but since he is used to getting his way, but to be even remotely considered presidential material, he has to answer to the WE THE PUBLIC, remember - "you people?"

    August 3, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. CNN Loudmouth

    Where’s the birth certificate, I mean tax returns? Show the tax returns and the story is over. Turnabout is fair play.

    August 3, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    Please apply the same litmus test to your own: I think you will find them at least as bereft of ethics as Harry Reid, if not more so. The whole issue is really about Romney, since he's the perpetual candidate.

    August 3, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    All this could be put to rest if Romney just does what his father and countless other nominees have done...release a substantial amount of tax returns. The ones BEFORE you made a decision to run for President. He could 'shut them up'. But somehow, I think he won't.

    August 3, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    ""I've known Sen. Reid for many, many years, and occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior," McCain said"

    Says the man who foisted Sarah Palin on the world.

    August 3, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. ohsnap

    "I've known Sen. Reid for many, many years, and occasionally he displays some rather erratic behavior," McCain said".

    Says the man who foisted Sarah Palin on the world scene.

    August 3, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Charlie

    It doesn't make a difference whether there is truth to the claims or not. In politics it's all about making the other person deny it. This is the exact play that killed John Kerry when he was swiftboated against Bush by his own war record. The fact is that the Obama team is doing a great job of beating republicants at their own game, and I find all the sudden whining quite amusing. 🙂 Whine away.

    August 3, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. ohsnap

    Romney could put all of this to rest but doing as many others, including his father, have done...release a substantial amount of tax returns. The ones BEFORE he made a decision to run for President. If he has nothing to hide, case closed. But somehow, I don't think he will.

    August 3, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Mitt Romney

    I'll do whatever I please, and the RNC can stick it in their ear. In fact, I don't even need a running mate. If you don't like it, go get Newt to run for president. Ah, ha ha ha ha ha, I got you so good! Burn! Snap! Kiss my rafalca!

    August 3, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. JerseyGirl

    @Name–"Flopney said it himself," they'll only want more (ammo) to use against me"
    Problem is his tax info is, live ammo and not blanks,it would kill his White House hopes and he knows that."
    I have to agree! Willard Rob-me is hiding something, it's kinda ironic that having "too much $" is going to backfire on him. On TV earlier today, a female talking head said that Rob-me is not comfortable with his $ status, and it shows in everything he says. But then, wasn't it GROVER NORQUIST that said all they want in the White House is somebody who knows how to sign his signature? Well, there you have it in a nutshell, no core, no backbone, no soul Rob-me. Norquist & his ilk must be relishing at the thought of 'ol Willard possibly getting into the White House. WELL, we're not gonna give him the satisfaction!!

    August 3, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. M. Edward

    Sen. Reid questions whether Mitt Romney has paid any taxes at all for a number of years. Sen. Reid said he has based this accretion on an anonymous statement from a Bain Capital Investor who told him that Romney had not paid taxes for a decade. Sen. John McCain said, "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." Does that mean that Sen. McCain understands that statements from Congressman Allen West that 'there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are card-carrying communists' is true or is it also baseless. Alternatively, does Sen. McCain only consider statements made by Democrats as baseless? Of course, Mitt could clear this all up, assuming he's not hiding something, in minutes, just release 10 years of Tax Returns.

    August 3, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Observer91

    Oh wow, Mitt Romney will definitely lose the election now for sure. Since Reid has called him out, Romney has had to use bullying tactics by telling Reid to shut up. Yet what he should be doing is proving Reid wrong. If he did then his chances of getting into the White House become more likely. So why doesn't he release them? Either he does so or the amount of people questioning his integrity and transparency will only increase. If that happens he will be forced to release them, and if they show even one bit of falsehood or unlawful acts then he is toast. Romney is being trapped in a corner, but the sad part is is that he either can't defend himself or he refuses to. Mitt, just save us the time and money and release your taxes already.

    August 3, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. Daremonai

    Oh come on. I see lies in the bulk of political ads and rhetoric.... Reid is being a twit, but no more so then anyone else in this clusterexpletive....

    August 3, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. lisaspups

    Sounds to me like Mr. Romney needs to practice what he preaches. If he wants Reid to put up or shut up, maybe he should do the same with regard to past tax returns. I'm just saying . . . .

    August 3, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. rs

    I like the moniker,, but I think you need to take it seriously. The GOP have vilified Obama from day one. From slanderous and stupid statements (some of which you repeat) to vast stinking conspiracy theories- all fact free. Look- the GOP can't keep changing what it wants from Obama, whether it be in legislative negotiations (like their individual mandate in the ACA), or a "long-form" birth certificate to prove he's human. The GOP has played an insidious and dirty game for 4 years, and if asking Mr. Romney to produce his tax forms (like every other presidential candidate from the last 50 years)makes him freak out so bad- maybe you should admit that either he is a flaming liar, or completely unsuited for the job.

    August 3, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. sambo

    is harry missing a marble???????

    August 3, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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