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. steph in TX

    It doesn't matter who the source is. there's only one way to clear it up. Just release 10 straight years of tax returns.

    August 2, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. hilreal

    If he IS paying taxes he needs to fire his tax attorney!!!

    August 2, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. p

    What the heck does Reid have to prove? Let's see the returns, Mr. Romney.

    August 2, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  4. aklogic

    The current liberal democrat strategy seems to be to tell colossal lies and keep repeating them until people start to believe them. Do not be fooled!

    August 2, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  5. Name torty

    No Mr. Romney is you who need to put up or have this tax debacle around your neck from now till November. Your choice. And may be you've forgotten a certain Mr Obama had to show his birth certificate to the world because your friends demanded it. Sir,may we see your tax returns please.

    August 2, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. lois mellott

    I think it is the other way around. Romney needs to put up or shut up!! After he does release those tax forms of his they need to be checked out, but good, by an accountant. He smells like he has had a battle with a monster fish. Hope somemore people from Bains speaks up too. What a disgrace to steal peoples retirement funds etc.and act like nothing ever happened, he just created more jobs. And on and on just another Bush republican.

    August 2, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  7. Adam C

    I hate to be on the "If you have nothing to hide" side, but he should release more years on taxes anyhow. He is definitely hiding something. Most likely that he paid a much lower rate than the average American.

    August 2, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  8. jigjiga

    romney prove it

    August 2, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  9. rrw

    Then just release your tax retuns from 2000 onwards – that's all it takes buddy. cheers.

    August 2, 2012 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. richardtrombly

    While Romney calls on Reid to put up or shut up, is it not Romney's responsibility to provide the proof at this point?

    August 2, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. HenryB

    Put on your big boy pants, Mittster. You have engaged in some nasty stuff yourself. What goes around, comes around.

    August 2, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  12. will

    Prove him wrong mittens

    August 2, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. Sarah

    Seems like Harry has put Mitt, it's your turn.....

    Looks like one of your Bain brothers ratted you out.

    August 2, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  14. Alex in Wisconsin

    Coming from a man who can't put anything vs the former boxer.... I wonder who would win that one. But honestly, the burden of proof is on Romney. He can clear it up just by showing the country the truth.

    August 2, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  15. Cori

    ...not what I was expecting.

    August 2, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. Marvin Adel

    Dear Mr Romney
    With out any doubt the proof belongs in your corner. Either you produce your tax returns OR your to blame for this nonsense. Without tax returns you cannot get a mortgage in this country any longer NOR could you be
    considered for any post in the US Government .You would never be confirmed.

    August 2, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  17. Guitar

    Mitt should just release his tax returns so he can prove everyone wrong like he says! As if!!!

    August 2, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  18. Mt man

    Uh, thats your job. Release your taxes and prove hes wrong.

    August 2, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  19. Tom Joad

    Plastic man is at it again. Show us your tax returns plastic man.

    August 2, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  20. Rob

    Why don't you stop being a coward and show your taxes!!!!!! Are you afraid you may be convicted of something

    August 2, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  21. Tina

    I would like to see the Presidents tax returns and while we are at it Mr. Reid lets see yours, or have you gotten them hidden like you say Romney has?

    August 2, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  22. RonDonaghe

    There's one way to prove that Reid is either lying or telling the truth...this is too easy and obvious...Romney should show those tax returns in question.

    August 2, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  23. Skip

    What does he mean "put up or shut up"? Romney is the one who won't put up his tax returns. To Paraphrase Cuba Gooding, Jr. "Show us the returns!!!"

    August 2, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  24. WesternSkies

    Sounds to me like it's Mr. Romney who needs"put up or shut up." If you've you've paid any taxes in the last decade, then prove it!

    August 2, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  25. Rick

    It is very easy for Mitt Rpmney to embarrass Harry Reid and prove him a liar: release your tax returns.

    August 2, 2012 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
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