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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

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. sirgleno

    Simple, either Romney proves Reid wrong, or refuses. Romney correctly calculates that the votes lost by not showing it are less than the votes lost by showing it. WHAT IS HE HIDING?!?

    August 3, 2012 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  2. Name jim

    Tax "tricks" are simply laws enacted by congress. Using the Tax Code or "tax rules" to your advantage is what every smart tax payer does. I guess that makes Romney smart and Reid a congressional bully...

    August 3, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  3. Maggzilla

    It is Mitt Romney who needs to "put up or shut up". Who would have thought during that circus of Republican debates that those other clowns were telling the truth? Don't you Romney supporters feel stupid now? .

    August 3, 2012 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    no, Mr. Romney, it is time for YOU to put up or shut up, you arrogant, lying, fact-twisting, pathetic flip-flopper. Show your tax returns or shut your mouth. Oh, and as for your recent statement that you would create 12M jobs in 4 years (with, as usual, absolutely NOTHING to back up your claim) – I suppose we're just supposed to automatically believe you when during your ONLY experience leading anything in government, as Gov. of MA, you were 47th out of 50 in job creation. The only 3 states worse in job creation at that time were the 3 states hit by Hurricane Katrina. Yet somehow now, you will just magically become the best job creator in the history of the country. Please. You say anything, with no facts to back up your claims, just to try to get elected, and people see right through you.

    August 4, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  5. dangerman

    JR, I can't seem to find a copy of your tax return on-line. Are you HIDING something ??

    August 4, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  6. Anonymous

    "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."

    HELLO! He has until October! He filed an extension, what don't you guys understand?

    August 4, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  7. When?

    This story, and the Chick-A-File story, are exactly what is wrong with the political debate. Instead of talking about the real problems that face our country, everyone wants to just cheer on their sides in whatever political drama the media dishes out.
    I'm sorry, but there isn't that much difference in the candidates. Both don't have a clue how to fix the country, and the only candidate who has ever talked REAL change, Ron Paul, is treated as a joke.
    Dems enjoy your Black Bush,
    Reps enjoy your John Kerry.

    August 4, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  8. Name

    Show us the tax facts dirty mittens!

    August 4, 2012 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  9. George l

    There goes the three stooges again...shooting off their mouths about subjects they have no clue about. Romney has taken advantage of whatever tax laws that moron Reid and his minion Pelosi have passed. They take and make favorable laws for themselves and if someone steps out of line and follows them they are then labeled as evil.

    What a mess this country is in...and the only salvation is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. It won't be long before he comes and straightens this disaster out once and for all. Be prepared.

    August 4, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. Bill

    From a life long Independent: Harry Reid is the Democratic Party's pecking duck trying to divert the voter's attention from the significant issues that really matter: the lagging economy, high unemployment rate, nation wide forecloses, skyrocketing national debt-just to name a few. If his accusations

    August 4, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. Schalaine

    There is a very simple solution to this little dilemma. Romney show your tax returns for at least the last eight years. All questions can and will be answered. But, you have no intention of doing that. In all the years of running for office, you have never voluntarily released any information about yourself. You released one year (incomplete) during the primaries under intense pressure. You say you will release 2011 when they are complete. Would that be around Nov. 8th? Your arrogance will be your downfall.

    August 4, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Bill

    This is from a life long Independent. Harry Reid is the Democratic Party's pecking duck trying to divert the voter's attention from the issues that really matter: the economy, skyrocketing national debt, nation wide forecloses, high unemployment rate–to just name a few. If his accusations had any merit, I would understand his reasoning. But he doesn't. "An anonymous person told me..." has no credibility. If there is in fact an anonymous"anonymous person", this person might be lying to Reid because he doesn't like Romney. He may as well accuse Romney of being a communist.

    August 4, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  13. wayne

    demacrates don't care about the truth, they can lie and lie and the press prints these lies as the truth. Romney paid his taxes there is no one of a sound mind who said can say he did not pay his taxes unless you are a democrate looking for another lie to tell. I do not blame Romney for not giving obama access to his tax records to try and distort this man further. I can not tell you any clearer. obama has never won an elelction that he has not disqualified his opponate. obama is really dragging the barral trying to get something on romney that will stick,

    August 4, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  14. jl9830

    No, it's time for Mitt to prove Reid wrong. The longer he avoids releasing his tax returns, the more plausible it is that he's got something to hide.

    August 4, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  15. dave

    still here mittens and have not forgot either you know those tax returns you need to give up! by the way mittens senator reid is the senate leader and you didn't hire him so he can say anything he wants to and you will have to take it. its called pollitics get used to it because even if you win the white house people will say what they want and they won't have to SHUT UP either. unlike things now if you by some chance even get to the white house you WILL have to answer questions you don't want to answer. looks like the heat in the kitchen is getting to you a little and you are no where near the kitchen yet.

    August 4, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  16. dave

    this man made his wifes hobby horse a business deduction of $77.000. that should make any american with even just a few brain cells want to see how he has done the rest of his taxes. i have a speed boat for a hobby and i would not call it a business and i dam straight would not have the balls to put it as a decuction on my tax return would anyone reading this try that with any of your hobbies?

    August 4, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  17. helenecha

    Reid always tried painstakingly to invite people to enjoy his delusion. Oh, we’re so busy. Wish him healthy.

    August 4, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  18. oneSTARman

    I'm sure any of Romney's wives could confirm that Mitt has paid all the taxes he was required to pay.

    August 4, 2012 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  19. Iamnotfooled

    If Romney could make his living off of people who had been working in factories all their life and have their healthcare and pensions ripped from them so he could profit, what makes you think he would be up- front and pay all of his taxes? He hid as much as he could and I believe he might not of paid any with the loopholes for the rich. Greed. That is what drives him. If not he would release it.

    August 4, 2012 05:17 am at 5:17 am |
  20. chaz11222

    Reid is Right. 
Release your Returns Romney
...or go back to playing dressage!
 Cause we all have a RIGHT to see a Presidential Candidate’s tax returns!
 Unless...’re hiding something, Willard?
 How did you stuff all those millions into your tax-loophole IRA–
while the rest of us poor smucks have limits?
 And you want MORE tax cuts for the rich, Mitt?
 WHAT GALL! These fat cats aren’t satisfied- they want it ALL! 
 Mitt baby-take my advice: if you want to run for dog-catcher then
 keep your precious returns,  and just clean off your car roof.
 OTHERWISE, put up,  or shut up and go away ....
preferably BEFORE the convention.
 The super-rich think that they have the God-given right
 to do anything they want in this great country-
while the REST of us get screwed!

    August 4, 2012 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  21. Vicki Taylor

    The birthers make one insulting claim after another, basically calling the President and the State of Hawaii liers and many conservatives still won't shut up. Also, don't you think "put up or shut up" is pretty crass language from a presidential hopeful? If Obama ever said "shut up" , conservatives would howl all day about his lack of class.

    August 4, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  22. Come Clean

    Romney wants to know who told Harry Reid that he didn't pay taxes for 10 years. My question to Romney is: What are you going to do if you know the name of the person? Will that help people to know whether you paid your taxes or not?

    August 4, 2012 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  23. Stephen

    Ok, Mitts. Put up the last 10 years of your tax returns or SHUT UP!

    August 4, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  24. Veteran For Truth

    Romney is trying to flip the script. Oldest trick in the book. It is Romney who must put up, or shut up. Not Reid.

    Of course TEA Party members will say they don't care about his taxes. They don't care about anything but getting the President out of office. And the ones we elected tried to shut down the government, all because they wanted him out. People need to keep their eyes wide open.

    These TEA Party members are treasonous to true American values.

    August 4, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  25. joethegeek

    Just release the tax returns, that's all to it. I can see it now durning the debates, Rommeny stalling in front of the moderater

    August 4, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44