Mitt Romney’s senior campaign adviser channeled the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s on Thursday when he implicitly accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, 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?” Eric 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.
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.
Nevertheless, Mr. Reid said, the charge of nonpayment of taxes is serious that Mr. Romney should release his returns just to dispel the rumors.
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. Romney says he has no plans to do so.
For good measure, Mr. Fehrnstrom added later on in the segment: “This reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s.”
Since his initial charge, Mr. Reid has doubled down on his insinuation, telling reporters in a conference call 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?”