Romney to Reid on Tax Claims: 'Put Up or Shut Up'

Thursday, 02 Aug 2012 07:42 PM

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Mitt Romney on Thursday directly addressed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s unsourced insinuation that he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years, telling the Nevada Democrat to put his money where his mouth is.

Mr. Reid recently told the Huffington Post that an investor in Bain Capital, Mr. Romney’s former firm, told him Mr. Romney did not pay anything in taxes for 10 years. Mr. Reid admitted at the time he had no idea who the man was and he could not verify the claim himself.

“Well, it’s time for Harry to put up or shut up,” Mr. Romney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on his radio show. “Harry’s going to have to describe who it is he spoke with, because of course that’s totally and completely wrong. 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 it’s the White House.”

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Mr. Romney’s senior campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom channeled the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s earlier in the day, implicitly accusing Mr. Reid of engaging in McCarthyism by insinuating that Mr. Romney did not pay any taxes for 10 years.

“Harry Reid’s charges are baseless, and they’re untrue, and I would ask him one simple question: Have you no sense of decency, sir?” Mr. Fehrnstrom said on Fox News. “Is there nothing you won’t do to debase yourself and the office you hold in the name of dirty politics?”

The remark mirrors Army counsel Joseph Welch’s famous line to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the 1950s investigations into Communist activities in the U.S.

For good measure, Mr. Fehrnstrom added later on in the segment: “This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s.”

Democrats have been trying to goad Mr. Romney, who has released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011, into providing more information about his finances.

Mr. Reid has said the charge of nonpayment of taxes is serious enough that Mr. Romney should release his returns just to dispel the rumors.

Still, Mr. Romney says he has no plans to do so.

Since his initial charge, Mr. Reid has doubled down on his insinuation, saying that he doesn’t need to prove it.

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” said Mr. Reid, who has a law school degree. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

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