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. Four romney

    Smile Mitt things could be worse. If you do not release yout tax forms they will continue to get worse,

    August 3, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  2. Jay Shapiro

    Somehow it's appropriate for Republicans to make all kinds of absurd allegations against the President (he's a Muslim, he was not born in the United States, etc.), all of which the President resolved with FACTS. Now the crybaby Republicans are outraged that Mr. Reid has raised a question regarding Mr. Romney's taxes. This story is NOT going away until Mr. Romney produces the FACTS that are uniquely under his control – his tax returns. Indeed it is time for Mr. Romney to put up or shut up.

    August 3, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. tony

    After listening to Romney, I've developed a new, very negative, view (and fear) of the Mormon cult, and its major players, which I didn't have before.

    August 3, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  4. zapper

    How hard is it to release your tax returns, Mitt? The more you hold out the more we expect you're hiding something.

    August 3, 2012 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. PhilG

    Why do I have to vote for this piece of human turd?

    Why are the Republicans so determined to field candiddates that make voting for Obama easy?

    Why is'nt Portland running for President and Pawlenty his running mate?

    Now there is a Republican ticket I could vote for.

    Portland and Pawlenty 2012.

    August 3, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. Norman

    Harry Reid won't back down. It comes from his days as a boxer where he didn't back down either; which explains his brain damage....

    August 3, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. AJ

    'Put up or shut up' ROMNEY.

    August 3, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    if mitt romney is not hiding anything as he said, he is not, then proved it? it is very interesting to share for anyone, you know why, because if mitt romney is lying, the RIS or SEC, might send a sheriff, put a handdcuff and they will surely put him in detention facility. he is not above the law. you know? everyone pay taxes regardless who you think you are? no one is above the law!!!!!. He's finished, get it, mus....

    August 3, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  9. A. McFey

    Mittens is without a doubt hiding something really damaging – his refusal to make his tax records public speaks volumes !!

    August 3, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  10. Mittens Papa said “One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show.”

    "A decade of not paying a penny of taxes is a very serious allegation for a presidential candidate"

    Yo' numbnuts, NO ONE is accusing Mitt the TWIT of breaking any rules, it is very possible and legal that folks pay zero taxes all the time. The rabid right loves to point out that 49% of Americans pay no taxes, that is true and they are called the "working poor' FOR that very reason.

    If Mittens, worth a minimum of 250K, pays 0 taxes, nothing illegal, but then the GOP will have to find a whole new group to bash, if Mittens indeed paid 0 taxes for ANY year.

    August 3, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. gar

    Interesting how McCain treads fairly lightly in his attack on Reid. Probably because he knows what Sen. Reid said is TRUE!

    August 3, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. Rawmoney, 2012

    All the republicans who are angry over this issue and who defend Mitt Romney–Mitt's laughing at you, because what he's really hiding is all the donations he may have made to the democratic party and democratic causes. He doesn't want Republicans to see all the thousands of dollars he may have donated to such agencies as Planned Parenthood. How about all the money he may have given to Kerry's presidential campaign? Or even the money he may have given to the Obama campaign during the 2008 election. After all, why would he want McCain, who beat him in the primaries, to become president, thus keeping Romney from the presidency for 8 long years? If Obama were to win, then Romney could run again in 2012.

    Romney's just trying to hide how liberal he actually is, and the republicans are fully supporting his doing so. He's laughing at you just as much as he laughed at you after he said he was "severely conservative" and you bought it. You guys hate liberals, calling them liars, but when one looks you straight in the eye and lies to your face you reward him with a shot at the presidency.

    Just four months ago, 75% percent of republicans felt exactly this way when they tried again and again to vote for "anyone but Romney".

    He's just a pro-choice, anti-gun, big spending liberal who was able to look you in the eye and with a straight face tell you that he truly is "severely conservative" And the republicans fell for it big time, despite their huge doubts just a few months earlier.

    August 3, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Rob

    Poor silly Mitt.

    August 3, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  14. Funk

    This man is a Thug, NOT a Presidential figure.

    August 3, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. sarge325

    Sen. Reid is reprehensible. It is a gross violation of ethics to make charges without evidence. "Sen. Reid, I heard you sold drugs for years out of your home. Prove that you didn't." Preposterous. Those in this blog saying that Romney could put a stop to this by releasing his taxes are ignoring reality. First, Romney has already released two years of tax returns. That is two years more than he is required to do, and it is the same number of years as his predecessor, John McCain, released. Second, if Romney released more tax returns it would simply cause Obama operatives to shout out new questions about this or that detail in those returns. Romney's taxes are a non-issue. Obama wants the media to talk about Romney's taxes because Obama doesn't want the media to talk about important matters like the economy.

    August 3, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  16. Pendy

    Throw anything against the wall and see what sticks. The MSM will back you all the way. Seriously, why is this fossil communist still in the senate?

    August 3, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. panorain

    Unfortunately Leftists lie. That is a fact. "Presidential Candidates Traditionally Release Tax Returns." Check it out. So far the claims that Clinton did it look false. So far Clinton's claim that John McCain released 30 years of returns also looks false. Did Gore release his tax returns? Yes? Then where are they?

    August 3, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  18. George

    It is Romney who should put up or shut up. Release the tax returns in question and prove Reid wrong...or shut up yourself, Mitt.

    August 3, 2012 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. Patrish

    Good God Romney just produce your tax returns and everyone would shut up. What ARE YOU HIDING??? i would have some concern that someone with accounts in other countries. He could turn into another Richard Nixon. So cough it up Mr. Romney, and show those returns.

    August 3, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. HenryB

    This outrage from the right is rich. For four years these very same people have howled and screeched, and accused our President that he was not born in this country. Four years! Nary a peep from Romney or the other establishment Republicans calling these people out. Now that Senator Reid throws out something that may very well not be true, these people are outraged. What goes around, comes around. Be like a Timex watch; take a licking and keep on ticking. (that was silly, I know).

    August 3, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. sqeptiq

    truthhurts, it's very comforting to know that your love of your money far outshines your love of your country. What's that old saying...The love of money is the root of all evil? Just a wild guess here, you must be a republican.

    August 3, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. RedRedRobin

    Romney is telling Reid to put up or shut up. I think Reid should tell Romney to put up or shut up. His tax returns have a legal obligation not to be discussed by others. If Romney is truly innocent – and will not comply – then this will tell us that his pride is bigger than his common sense...or...on the other hand he is just plain guilty. Both of which are important for us to know about a presidential candidate.

    August 3, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  23. DERASA

    Then, what is he hiding? If we are going to hire him, we have the rigth to take a look to his tax record, we need to be sure we aren't going to hire another crook like Nixon..

    August 3, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Ancient Texan

    Romney should agree to the release his tax returns the same day that Obama releases all of his records that he spent millions to seal; and hide.

    August 3, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. Patrick in Minnesota

    Mitt, all these questions can be answered if you simply release your taxes like every other candidate who has one the presidency in the last half century.

    August 3, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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