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White House: Reid 'speaking for himself' on Romney taxes

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The White House does not control what Sen. Harry Reid says, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

Peppered with questions about Mr. Reid’s onslaught of accusations against Mr. Romney’s record of paying taxes, White House spokesman Jay. Carney said Mr. Reid “certainly speaks for himself” and seemed to say the top Senate Democrat is his own man and doesn’t take marching orders from the White House on this or anything else.

“I think the idea that people tell Harry Reid what to do is inconsistent with what everyone here understands to be …” Mr. Carney said before being cut off by a reporter’s follow-up question asking why Mr. Obama isn’t telling Mr. Reid to stand down.

Mr. Carney also said “he is not aware of the White House speaking to Senator Reid about this issue.”

In the past week, Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, has assailed Mr. Romney for failing to release his tax returns beyond the year 2010 and an estimate for 2011 and has cited a reliable anonymous source at Bain Capital, the firm Mr. Romney founded and helped run, as telling him that Mr. Romney is trying to hide the fact that he didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.

Republicans have called Mr. Reid a liar and has said he needs to put up or shut up — back up the accusations with some kind of proof or drop the line of attack.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said Monday that he suspects the Obama campaign and the White House pushed Mr. Reid to make the allegation.

“He was encouraged to do stuff like this by [Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod], by the president and by the White House,” Mr. Sununu, a Romney surrogate, told Fox News. “This is the way they operate. It is Chicago-style, gutter politics.”

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at

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