Romney to Reid on tax accusations: ‘Put up or shut up’

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Mitt Romney on Thursday directly addressed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s insinuation that the former Massachusetts governor 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 taxes for 10 years. Mr. Reid acknowledged at the time he did not know who the man was and could not verify the claim himself.

“Well, it’s time for Harry to put up or shut up,” Mr. Romney told Sean Hannity on the talk-radio host’s 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.”

Mr. Romney’s senior campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, implicitly accused Mr. Reid of engaging in McCarthyism by insinuating something without proof and demanding that the accused disprove it.

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. Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s investigations into communist activities in the U.S.

For good measure, Mr. Fehrnstrom added later 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, releasing a statement Thursday saying that he was told by an “extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for ten years.”

“It’s clear Romney is hiding something, and the American people deserve to know what it is,” Mr. Reid said. “I understand Romney is concerned that many people, Democrats and Republicans, have been calling on him to release his tax returns. He has so far refused. There is only one thing he can do to clear this up, and that’s release his tax returns.”

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