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. mike58

    Is Harry Reid totally brain head??
    This is really low for the head Senate is get involved in this.
    does he have no class at all
    I was told in a private phone call that Reid is really dead and that no one has told him

    August 3, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG


    'With the tax-filing deadline looming, Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney yesterday challenged Sen. Edward M. Kennedy to disclose his state and federal taxes to prove he has ‘nothing to hide,’ but another GOP rival, John R. Lakian, called Romney’s move ‘bush league’ ‘It’s time the biggest-taxing senator in Washington shows the people of Massachusetts how much he pays in taxes,” said Romney, a business consultant from Belmont. Romney said he would disclose his own state and federal taxes for the last three years ‘on the very day that Kennedy turns over his taxes for public scrutiny.’ [Boston Globe, 4/19/94]

    August 3, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Kel(former Marine)

    Harry Reid's accusation is not only baseless but shows how low this administration will stoop. All this hoopla about taxes is to keep people from talking about Obama's dismal record. The stench from Washington is smelled all the way down here in South Carolina. Wake up America. Semper Fi

    August 3, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. truth hurts

    I have heard from reliable sources that obama and harry reid are having an affair with each other and that is why obama came out in favor of gay marriage. after leaving the whitehouse in january they intend to get married in massachusetts and braney frank will be the best man for both.

    August 3, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Guest 1

    51 percent of Americans that pay no taxes are worried that Mr. Romney hasn't paid more than the millions that he actually owed !!...Hipocrats !!!

    August 3, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Arch Stanton

    One thing we do know for a fact is, Romney is very defensive about showing his tax returns for some reason. He's hiding something. Now, I don't know if it's what Reid claims or not; I don't think Reid should make definite statements on hearsay, so I'm not going to believe he's got the facts until he presents them.

    But, Romney is undoubtedly hiding SOMETHING he doesn't want us to know... and that's enough to make him a person I wouldn't trust. If Romney had nothing to hide, he'd be eager to show his returns and stifle his detractors. But, he isn't. That's got to be because there is something he wants to hide.

    August 3, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. NotFooledByDistractions

    Actually Willard, it's you who has something to prove. Prove Reid wrong...release the tax records.

    Every day he procrastinates, the suppositions get worse...he's burying himself.

    He's either the dumbest presidential candidate on record, or the most arrogant. He's been running for president for over 6 years now – during his "unemployment", it never occurred to him to clean up his financials. Stupidity or arrogance? Or a little bit of both.

    August 3, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. Fred Fenway

    Where Were You?: "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..."

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

    Republicans grasp the concept – they just don't grasp why Democrats and liberals think that they have a right to know everything about everybody. He's running for office – not "Tax Accountant-in-Chief". And my whole point had nothing to do with Republicans and Democrats or anybody's tax policies... You missed my ENTIRE point.

    All I was saying was that if you, Mr./Ms. Where Were You, had the same cash in the bank that Romney has – you'd do the exact same thing to protect your money. People, regardless of whatever party the claim to belong to, throw stones at successful people anytime they takes steps to protect their wealth. U.S. tax laws allow people to shelter cash in offshore accounts and various other investment vehicles. Don't like it? Write your Congressmen... But don't go blaming people like Romney that are fortunate enough to have the funds to invest other places and the intelligence to do it in a way to prevent Marxists like yourself laying claim to money and information that's not yours to begin with.

    August 3, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  9. McCain Logic

    So when it came to pick a VP McCain choose Palin over Romney? Really?

    August 3, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. mhill68123

    It wouldn't help Romney to release any more forms.
    Reid, a consumate embarrassment, forgets that you are innocent until proven guilty in this country
    Why isn't he screaming for Obozo's buddy Warren Buffet to pay a billion dollar tax bill he has been fighting with an army of lawyers for 10 years?
    Also, there is no way you could embarrass Reid himself, as he is too deranged to have a sense of self.

    August 3, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Cazart

    Reid's a knucklehead, but in this case...wouldn't it be time for ROMNEY to "put up or shut up?"

    August 3, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Jewels

    Fred - See, you skirt around the issue. That's the problem in an attempt to justify or rationalize who you support. The fact is that Mitt would heavily influence the governing of the land, if elected.. For that reason, and that reason alone - it should be clear as to how he handled his own finances and whether or not he's paid taxes. I have paid taxes for years - and would be considered middle class. I would like to know that every citizen is doing their share. You know, I already know the answer with the way Mitt has acted w/ all of this. He is not someone to be trusted...

    August 3, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Steve

    Mitt, prove those damned democrats wrong, release your tax returns for the last ten years.

    August 3, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Pete/Ark

    Despite the physical attributes , I doubt that Mitt is Georges son... the old man knew the class act was to lay ALL your cards on the table...BEFORE someone calls your hand.

    August 3, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  15. Terrance Kozak

    Might believe Harry once he stops beating his wife and gets help. We might start believing Nancy Pelosi if she admitted to her own offshore accounts.

    August 3, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. truth hurts

    only in america... can the tens of thouasnds of people that romney has helped keep alive and well with his millions and millions in tax dollars to the govenrment, then turn around and attack him for it.

    if i were a super wealthy person i would ensure all of my money was properly invested in countries that appreciated and welcomed my millions in taxes. it appears the usa is not one of those countries anymore.

    i hope all those poor and middle class people start opening businesses soon because we're going to need them.

    August 3, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Kory Porporino

    It's about time someone called him out fully. I highly doubt Romney has paid any taxes based on two factors: The key being that he hasn't released any taxes after the first year and following debate, and two, the fact that he gets so upset when people do bring it up. If he had nothing to hide we wouldn't be questioning either of those. I can beleive that they try to fry Obama for a mediocre economic recovery after this country has been run into the ground for the last thirty years. The man is tackling a huge feat, and yet all you hear about are his shortcomings. Romney should just realease his taxes and drop out of the presidential race. You know he's a businessman; he's just going to not follow through with promises and do whatever he deems necessary to fill his own pockets.

    August 3, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. T'sah From Virginia

    ►TRENDING: Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'◄ that's all I got to say!
    SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! Really? Romney's trying to pull a squeeze play???
    When he has TAXES that are up his ASH that he does not want to show
    to the American people – When that alone would shut ALL of us up – Maybe? Ya' KNOW!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!

    August 3, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. NinetyNinePercent

    Mitt is the one that needs to put up or shut up. Every day that goes by that he hides his financials he looks more and more like a sneaky conniving SOB. Think about it. How many other R or D presidential candidates have refused to show multiple years of tax returns to this degree?? It's obvious he's got stuff in there he doesn't what YOU to see because it would pretty much guarantee the end of his presidential run.

    August 3, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. Steve

    Republicans have demanded Obama's birth certificate, tax information, academic transcripts, and even college applications, but now find it acceptable for Romney to conceal his tax returns. Amazing but true. Republicans have created these expectations and must now abide by them.

    August 3, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. GOpadd

    Romney actually did pay's the fact that he used loop holes to pay less. I don't see anyhing wrong with that, mostly anyone can do it.

    August 3, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. 2012liberal

    It called tax and spend for a reason. To spend money on roads, bridges, firefightres, teachers, children, disabled, judges, county clerks, even people that work at unemployment office, revenue has to be recieved-through taxes. But if you have someone dodging and using tax loopholes and tax havens to not contribute to the prospierty of this country as a whole with the JOBS I have stated above plus a few thousand other fields, then we AS A PEOPLE need and have a right to know that our PRESIDENT fully supports THIS COUNTRY and has the back of americans. Not shift the burden to average poor working american. They want you to do your share but hide OUR money in other places and allow government to try and pick up the pieces without their contribution. WE ALL HAVE BUILT AMERICA> WE ALL NORMAL AVERGE WORKING AMERICANS CONTRIBUTE TO THE INVESTMENT OF THIS COUNTRY!!! wake-up

    August 3, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Republican Not Voting for Romney

    Mitt Romney would never invest in a company that only showed one year of financial records. How could we invest in a candidate that was equally secretive? The tax return issue is NOT going away until he submits at the very least 5-7 years worth. If he wanted to be completely honest with American people he would submit the 23 years of returns he submitted in 2008 while being vetted for VP.

    August 3, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Randy Johnson

    Why not put up Mr Romney – just a simple disclosure of you tax returns? Obama was humiliated into having to show his original birth certificate and some i**ots still don't believe him so put on your big boy boots and start acting sucking it up and having to deal with criticism.

    August 3, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. JR in Texas

    Romney could stop Reid and anyone else who thinks he’s hiding something simply by releasing his tax returns for public viewing. It’s really that easy unless he’s hiding something.

    August 3, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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