Priebus defends 'dirty liar' slam against Harry Reid
August 6th, 2012
09:50 AM ET
11 years ago

Priebus defends 'dirty liar' slam against Harry Reid

(CNN) - The Republican National Committee chairman was far from apologetic Monday morning when asked if he took back a recent comment calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a "dirty liar."

"You know there's no triple-down in blackjack but I'll triple down on my comments from yesterday," Reince Priebus said on Fox News. "It's the truth."

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The top Republican made the original remark Sunday morning in a discussion about Reid's accusations that Mitt Romney went 10 years without paying taxes. The Democratic leader made the allegations based off what his office calls an "extremely credible source" affiliated with Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital.

Reid first made the comments in an interview with Huffington Post on Tuesday, then later voiced his opinions on the Senate floor, urging Romney to release more tax documents to answer any lingering questions.

Romney pushed back twice last week, telling Reid to either "put up or shut up" and calling the reports false. Republicans, including Priebus, backed up the presumptive GOP nominee Sunday morning on news shows.

"I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn't filed a single page of tax returns himself (and) complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz-Carlton here down the street," Priebus said the ABC News program "This Week." "And the fact that we're going to spend any time talking about it is ridiculous."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also came out against Reid's statements, saying the majority leader was "making things up."

"What he did on the floor of the Senate is so out of bounds. I think he's lying about his statement, of knowing something about Romney," Graham said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

While Priebus' "dirty liar" jab took some heat on Twitter Sunday, the RNC chair did not back down when questioned about it Monday and further reiterated his attack, saying Reid had "denigrated" his position as Senate majority leader.

"What else do you call somebody who goes on to the Senate floor and claims that someone hasn't paid any taxes in ten years - a complete lie - and uses his official office to do it?" Priebus said.

He once again repeated the line: "He's a dirty liar, and we're moving on to defeating this president and saving this country."

Responding to Republican statements on Sunday, Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement it was "sad" Romney "has forced his party to defend his decision to hide the truth about his tax returns."

"As Senator Reid has said, an extremely credible source informed him that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for ten years," Jentleson said. "It's clear Mitt Romney is hiding something, and the only way for him to clear this up is to be straight with the American people and release his tax returns."

Filed under: 2012 • Harry Reid • Reince Priebus
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Rich Klag

    If Mitt followed the tax laws we should be mad at the congress for writing them and ourself's for using the same rules

    August 6, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. Jeettu

    Why not stop all this madness and fingerpointing once and for all? Why not have Romney present his tax returns for 10 years and have everyone judge as to who is lying and who is telling the truth? Clearly something is mirky here. Romney does not want to release his tax returns sayingb that he does not want the democrats a chance to find faults with them. This to me implies that he may have something to hide.

    Besides, it is not the President who had made that claim; it is the senate majority leader. How does one jump from that person to blaming the President? There have been so many inconsistent statements about Romney, his taxes, his time at Bain Capital, his stand on several issues that I do not know what to beleive about him any more. Just because of all these doubts, I like many others, cannot even entertain the thought about voting for him. Romney can count me and several others like me out of his camp for the November elections unless he comes out straight and shares fully with the Amwerican people aboyt the truth about his taxes, time at Bain Capital and other aspects. He claims to have a recipe to create 12 million jobs in his 4 years. How when the US President controls nothing to create jobs. So how does he intend to create these 12 million jobs or this is just another lie to win the election for Romney.

    August 6, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Steve

    Things we don't know: 1) whether Reid really has a source. 2) If Reid does have a source, whether what the source said is correct. 3) whether the "taxes" Mitt says he paid each year include federal income taxes.

    Things we do know: 1) Somebody's lying. 2) Mitt can prove it isn't him by following the precedent his own father created and releasing several years of tax returns rather than a single "I'm running for office for Pete's sake!" prettied up return. 3). Mitt won't do that. 4) The Republican mouthpieces accusing Reid of recklessly lying have no idea whether Reid is lying, which is pretty much the definition of "reckless." 5) Romney says he paid "taxes" every year, but has carefully avoided saying the taxes he paid included federal income taxes specifically.

    Things we can reasonably infer from what we know: 1) Mitt thinks whatever is in his returns would be more politically damaging than continuing speculation that there were several years when he paid no income tax.

    August 6, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. PJ

    "If you (Romney) cave in will be telling us you are not a strong leader..........."
    He has already proven that he is not a strong leader. This list is very long.
    How many tax returns is he asking his VP candidates to provide? If it is more that 1 year, and 1 yet to be seen, then he
    should match whatever number it is. "What's sauce for the goose............"

    August 6, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  5. Dan

    In 2008 Obama didn't release his birth certificate because he knew it was legit so he that debate rage while he had nothing to lose. Romney is doing the same thing.

    August 6, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. Mark from Louisiana

    How did Harry Reid end up with a net worth of up to six million dollars on a senators salary? Timely investments?

    August 6, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    what, you mean he can't just hide behind "my comments weren't meant to be taken factually?"
    how about reid is simply playing politics. They want romney to release his taxes because they think they found a weakness there and now they're doing what they have to to pressure that weakness.

    release his taxes, this all goes away. Reid is attempting to pin romney in a corner. so far, considering how much time they've wasted talking about it, it seems to be working.

    August 6, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. daguy

    Hey Mitt, $100,000000.00 IRA? How did you do that? By not paying taxes?

    August 6, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Mr. Moderate

    Hey ReiNCe PRieBuS – Why does Mitt not have to provide the same level of disclosure your are demanding from the other presidential candidate? Can you imagine if Obama only released only one tax return?

    Seems kind of hypocritical of the Republicans getting all worked up when they have succeeded in convincing a significant part of their base that the President is a foreign born Muslim.

    August 6, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Darryl

    This guy Preibus ? Who is this guy anyhow ? He doesn't look like a honest guy to begin with. And who is he ? The Tax issue is something that Romney could have settled along time ago anyhow. But the fact is, he is going to have to put them out and the american people will not let this go. After all, he is running for the Highest Seat isn't he ? POTUS ? One way or another this isn't going away anytime soon. Guaranteed !

    August 6, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. sick of republican phonies

    Dan: Wrong. Romney has PLENTY to lose. As long as he is hiding his tax returns, the public will think the worst.

    August 6, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. talon

    For all the whining the Democrats are making about Romney's tax records, they aren't bothered by the fact that Obama has sealed all of his college records and spent over $4 million in keeping them sealed...what does he have there that he wants kept secret. On a side note, if Romney hasn't paid taxed in 10 years i'm pretty sure someone in the IRS would be saying something about it right now. This really is just attempt by the democrats to spread more unfounded lies.

    August 6, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Jon

    Why in the world would Reid lie ... i know, he is not running for re-election and so he can be his party's wipping boy.

    August 6, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |

    Preibus is such a slime. I hope he keeps going the way he has one will want to be near him and as for Romney.....well...he does enough all by himself but god help us if somehow he gets in. I really wish we had a solid third party.....maybe someone we can truly believe in.

    August 6, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Marty, FL

    It continues to remind Americans that Romney refuses to release his tax returns, as every presidential candidate has done since his father.

    Sadly, Romney was caught lying about his tax returns in MA, and there is no reason to trust him now.

    What is Romney hiding?

    August 6, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. demwit

    I think Harry Reid is the best Senate leader we've had in a long long time..., and so does Obama.

    August 6, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney is going to lose this race because of his tax returns. First, he's trying to turn the argument into one that says he broke the law. The only people saying anything about law breaking are his supporters and Mitt himself. He tries to confuse people by saying that he has "paid taxes" without saying what type of taxes. He could be talking about real estate taxes, not federal income taxes, for all we know.

    He was running in 2008. Was he not prepared to release a tax return then? ABC News asked him to release just the bottom lines without the details; income earned and taxes paid, so that people can see the effective rate. He's refused to do any of it. Even his own father, who started the *rule* to release returns, said that one year could be a fluke. One year could be dressed up to look innocent, but multiple years offer a clearer picture.

    August 6, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Bing

    Truer words have never been spoken. Reid just wants to change the conversation from the lousy economy and unpopular Democatic policies. Reid is ethically challenged which we have known for years will shady land deals back in his state. I also heard he slept with his neighbors 16 year old daughter from an extremely good source.

    August 6, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Cat

    Romney will call the shots afterall he is used to people caving and doing what he wants. Money intiminates some people and this is how he gets his way. He is surrounded by sycophants who all tow the line and tell him what he wants to hear. He will run for President 'his' way and will always be catered to. His sense of entitlement is so obvious for all to see. He will not release his tax returns simply because he does not want to, no-one tells him what to do.

    August 6, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. Marty, FL

    If the situation was reversed and Pres. Obama had not released 12 years of tax returns, you and other Romney followers would be demanding to see the documents, which is a hypocritical doublestandard.

    The truth is no other candidate has been asked to see non-issue transcripts, while EVERY presidential candidate has released tax returns since Romney's dad.

    August 6, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. CryBabies

    Romneys not hiding anything....just wants to stay on point about this lovely economy we are all enjoying. If he does he gets inundated from the left with a bunch of foolish , baseless accusations about his success. Chicago politics via Las Vegas....oh, and Harry Reid is washed up.

    August 6, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Preibus wants to know why Sen. Reid has not released his own tax returns? Because Sen. Reid isn't running for POTUS.

    Want to know what makes a good politician great? It is how a politician handles the unanticipated emergencies that require immediate, decisive decisions that makes the difference. The Romney campaign is a horrific failure on this scale. They have bungled this tax issue every step of the war, right from the start. It should not have been an unanticipated isse, either.

    They should have known that people would want to see tax returns. What has turned this into a now often fumbled, unanticipated emergency is the fact the people have ignored what he has asserted. This is uncharted territory for Mitt Romney. What he says does not go?

    August 6, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Como

    Strange that some of you say Preibus et al are not offering any evidence that Romney paid his taxes when you chose to ignore Johm McCain's firm statement that when he was picking a VP running mate he reviewed Romney's taxes as part of the vetting process. So Reid claims an unnamed source and is credible with many of you libs and McCain states unequiivicably he reviewed Romney's taxes you pick Dirty Harry Reid. How sad.

    August 6, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. 2020




    ROMNEY is applying the highest job of this land, the one to lead tax reform. Can we trust him to look after all Americans? NO, NO, NO.

    "Poor people I am not worried" – a clear Romney mentality.

    "Corporation is people too" – Romney is there for corporations. crystal clear.

    August 6, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |

    Willard, Sen. Graham & Rence, you idiots fell for the bait. Who cares if Sen. Reid's source is imaginary or not. The fact of the matter that you idiots are responding to the accusation shows how stupid you are. You're supposed to be trying to avoid questions about your taxes, but you fell right into Sen. Reid's trap. And you expect to be Commander-In-Chief? Ha!!!

    August 6, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
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