Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up'
August 2nd, 2012
06:22 PM ET
10 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. timothy

    The other GOP hopefuls tried to warn the primary voters about Mitt in the debates, but they are not the most intelligent creatures running around. Just look at those silly tin foil hats they wear.

    August 3, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. truth hurts

    >How could we invest in a candidate that was equally secretive?

    we're not investing in him, we are hiring him. also, romney is no where near as secretive as obama. his books have now been revealed as fiction. nobody really knows who he is or what he really believes. he has let the real obama slip with his spread the welath around and you did make it comments. did he tell the american people he was a class warfare advocate in 2008? i don't recall that. he spewed grandiose lies about being one america. what a lie that was! he's done nothing but divide us since.

    August 3, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. JoJola

    I would like to believe that Reid would not make such a strong accusation without any type of proof. So, the balls in Romney's court. If he doesn't have anything to hide, prove it! This is not going to go away. Americans are feed up with those who are fortunate enough to be wealthy evading paying their fair share of taxes. Romney sings "America The Beautiful" all while putting Americans out of jobs; shipping jobs overseas and setting up several offshore accounts to avoid paying "American" taxes. Yeah, I guess America is beautiful to him when it allows him to rob and pillage it without any reproach or consequences.

    August 3, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. ProProgress

    Looks like everyone has sounded out their opinions on this. I can only say this then. I am a Progressive. Reid made a very profound accusation. He made it. He does need to prove it. Otherwise he is going to look like a fool. Name the source Harry. If not your potential voters at home will consider other alternatives for representation. Congress as a whole has proven to me that they are the ones that need to take the blame for our economy being as bad as it is. Romney and Obama are only figureheads. They can state all kinds of promises and plans. But none of it means a dang thing if our Do Nothing Congress plays politics with Americans as a whole. We really don't have time for this infantile behavior from what are suppose to be smart and representative servants of the American people. GROW UP!

    August 3, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    @Michael B.: "I don't care about his tax returns. He's American and better than Obama so that's good enough for me."

    Once again, for the mentally deficient/teabaggers and Michael B: If President Obama had been born in Kenya, he would have had dual US-Kenyan citizenship by virtue of the fact that his mom was a US citizen. For him to get a Social Security number and US passport, he would have had to prove US citizenship, which he could only have obtained by renouncing his Kenyan citizenship and becoming a naturalized US citizen. This process (not to mention the paperwork that must be filed for US births abroad), would have left a very long, very noticeable paper trail – none of which exists, because the President was born in Hawaii.

    How do I know? Because I was born in Germany of American parents (my dad, who served 30 years in the Army, was stationed there at the time) and this is the process I had to go through. Trust me, when you apply for your Social Security number and/or US passport, you have to produce originals of EVERYTHING.

    You pathetic Mittens supporters need to get a life ...

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 3, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Ronald Lee

    If he wants to be president he will have to show his taxes or he won't get the votes, plain and simple. I guess this is one part of being rich he isn't proud of, why?

    August 3, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Ted Davenport

    It's been time for Romney to "Put Up" for about 6 years now...

    August 3, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. Tam

    "It's time for Harry to put up or shut up," Time for MITT to put up or shut up. Show us the tax returns. What are you hiding?

    August 3, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  9. Tony Baloney

    When is Harry Reid going to come out of the closet and admit he is gay? He only boxed to conceal it.

    BTW, has he disclosed all of his tax returns since he has been in government? Now THAT should a gold mine of information on corruption based on Pelosi's insider trading. I'm sure old Harry Dog was lining his pockets as well.

    August 3, 2012 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  10. llosano

    Bishop Romney (Mormon) you need to put up, and people will shut up. I think it was a big mistake for republican to select him as their presidential candidate. This guy only cares about people who are like him (the top 2%).

    August 3, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. sftommy

    Would America vote for Romney if he hadn't paid taxes in a decade?
    Romney could prove he has, but either can't or won't.

    TRUST Romney with my tax dollars when he won't come clean on his?

    August 3, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. Debbie

    All Romney has to do is release his taxes. I'm sure he paid 100 per cent of what he owed. I'm just not sure he owed much at all.
    Just release the taxes.

    August 3, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. sbreezy

    then lets see the tax records mittens???? here is your chance to shut up the DEMS once an for all. I guarantee we will never see them because reid is right about romney not paying taxes for years....

    August 3, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. AVL Las Vegas

    This is exactly what everyone was expecting...Romney to lie, cheat and steal to win the white house. He won't show his taxes, but then tries to blast Obama over his tax plan? I honestly don't think this man should get to vote on our countries tax plan until he makes it clear that he is actively participating in our countries tax plans. Its ok for the middle class to pay taxes but he is above that? It's ok for him to use off shore accounts and loopholes for his tax burden but were ALL ON THE HOOK FOR THE BILL?!?!? #laughable Then he wants to talk about Obama's spending while he is personally withholding money from the American people? This is a sad time for our nation.

    August 3, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. NVa Native

    It's time the weakest link to be honest for once with the American people and show us your tax records. What a sleaze.

    August 3, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  16. ken

    Why does Reid have to reveal his source if Romney doesn't want to reveal his taxes? Romney, the ball is in your court to discredit Reid. Something to hide? You are losing the election because of your taxes alone. I have four friends who were Republican supporters but are voting Obama if you don't show your taxes. Not showing your tax returns is political suicide.

    August 3, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  17. WDinDallas

    Once again the mentally challenged Mob (Democrats) try to move the conversation from economy and policies to personal attacks. Today's neo-liberal movement reminds me of the French Revolution.

    August 3, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  18. lay it all on the table

    obama needs to fully reveal his college records and all financial records going back to the tony rezko dealings and even further. the american people need to know everything about him because we know almost nothing. he needs to come clean and tell us who he is.

    August 3, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  19. jon

    Rmoney is afraid to show that he paid less than 10% on his tax returns for 10 years because he knows it will kill his chances at the white house.

    August 3, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. TomGI

    The IRS knows if Romney paid his taxes according to his returns. Important thing is if he filed his returns. If it comes out he lied on his returns or they think he lied about income they WILL tighten the vice on his "stones". The IRS Criminal Collection Division has an old saying, "If you overstate expenses you will pay a fine, if you understate income you WILL do time." They love to tell you this if they come a calling.

    August 3, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    TO continue:

    President Obama actually GETS THINGS DONE, in spite the GOP opposition, including decimating al Qaeda's leadership; ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden; keeping our country from going into a Great Depression; passing meaningful healthcare reform that is helping millions of Americans; implementing economic policy that not only facilitated the Dow going from 7,000 when he took office to over 13,000 today, but has resulted in 28 straight months of private sector job growth; pushed for and got the bailout of the American auto industry, which saved millions of American supply-chain jobs and resulted in GM being the top auto maker IN THE WORLD.

    So go ahead and bag on Congress (the Repubs) for not doing what they are supposed to be doing, but NEVER insinuate that President Obama and Mittens are on equal footing – because our President is heads and shoulders above anything Mittens, with his sorry-fanny, flip-flopping, lying excuse for a man, could ever hope to be.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 3, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  22. Cindy

    Romney's father said you can tell who a man is by his tax returns. Ok Romney, do as your father says. Show those tax returns or get out.

    August 3, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  23. DefendComSen

    Nobody, not Harry Reid or any commenter on this site, has a single shred of evidence that Romney has done anything wrong, unflattering, or un-American related to paying his taxes. Not an ounce of evidence yet here are 900+ comments calling him out over a politicized, biased, and sensationalized claim made by the left. So, if I claim to have solid sources who tell me that Harry Reid is doing really bad things around the bath houses of DC is it then true in this "court of opinion" and up to Harry to prove me wrong? Will you all help me jump on Harry to prove to us that he isn't frequenting these bath houses and doing improper things??

    August 3, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  24. Johnny DC

    I don't understand Liberal logic whatsoever.

    It is beyond blatantly obvious that once Romney decided that a few years of tax returns was enough, despite all the calls from Reid and the Obama machine for more meat to chew on, Reid has adopted this new slimy method to coerce the information out of Romney.

    Are you that stupid, Liberals? Or are you that dishonest? It's one or the other. Pick one for me – you are either missing the easiest ruse in the history of deceit, or you are willing to allow libel and slander as long as it benefits your side.

    Reid thinks that by simply asserting "prove you paid taxes by showing us the tax returns that you don't feel like showing, or else we assume you did NOT pay taxes and hence engaged in illegal, un-American activity", he will get what he wants.

    It's pathetic, it's un-American, and it's shameful for someone of such a high rank in our government.

    Shame on Harry Reid and shame on the Obama campaign for their likely endorsement of this means to an end.

    August 3, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  25. g

    the rich built the country ,they just let you live in for now -ask them

    August 3, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
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