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UPDATE: Several Republicans did not mince words in their attacks against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Sunday, accusing him of lying when he said Mitt Romney failed to pay taxes for a decade. As Politico points out, insults aside, Reid got exactly what he wanted with talk of Romney’s income tax returns dominating the Sunday morning talk shows. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar” and was quick to point out that Reid is a resident of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington, reports the Washington Post.
“As far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, … I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself. Complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz-Carlton here down the street,” Priebus told ABC News. “This is just a made-up issue. And the fact that we’re going to spend any time talking about it is ridiculous.”
Senator Lindsey Graham also fired at Reid, telling CNN the majority leader was “making things up.” Obama adviser David Axelrod told Fox News Sunday that while he didn’t know who Reid’s source was, Romney “can resolve this in 10 seconds” if he just released his tax returns, reports Bloomberg. “Why don’t they just put this to rest? What is it he’s hiding?” Obama adviser Robert Gibbs echoed the sentiments, saying the Republican candidate could just end all the speculation if he just goes “to Kinkos” to “photocopy his tax returns” and “hand them out to people,” reports Politico.
For his part, Reid’s spokesman made it clear the Senate majority leader isn’t backing down, calling Romney “the most secretive candidate since Richard Nixon.”
Saturday, August 4: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caused an uproar this week when he said that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes for 10 years. Some say he has gone too far, particularly considering that congressional leaders usually favor collegiality rather than heated rhetoric. Plus, the two men are among the highest profile Mormons in the country. Still, “Reid has adopted the role of attack dog with relish,” points out the Hill. And it’s a role that’s hardy new to him, considering he didn’t hide his negative opinions of Sen. John McCain in the 2008 election.
The “one person who couldn’t care less” about being criticized for his attacks is Reid himself, points out Politico, noting the senator doesn’t plan on stopping the attacks. As far as Reid sees it, this is a winning issue for him because it’s keeping attention on Romney’s taxes. Besides, Reid’s aides insist the majority leader really believes his source, who is allegedly a longtime investor at Bain Capital.
“What’s the downside? Jon Stewart getting all serious and haughty? Harry Reid could not care less,” a Politico source who is close to Reid said. “There is no one in politics with a thicker skin. He’s having the last laugh.”
On Friday, Romney insisted he pays lots of taxes every year, reports Bloomberg. “I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes–a lot of taxes,” he said. “So Harry is simply wrong, and that’s why I’m so anxious for him to produce the names of the people who have put this forward. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign.”
Friday, Aug. 3: Harry Reid's unfounded accusation that Mitt Romney didn't pay his taxes for a decade hasn't suceeded in forcing the Republican to break down and release his old returns—but it nonetheless has managed to keep the issue of Romney's refusal to make them public in the spotlight. (We'll leave it up to the Senate majority leader to decide whether that was worth the Daily Show skewering his comments earned him.)
Speaking on Fox News Thursday, Romney had this to say: "Well, it’s time for Harry to put up or shut up," he said in reference to the host of unnamed sources the Democrat claims to have on the topic. "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."
Given the drubbing that Reid has taken for what appears to be a clear attempt to goad Romney into releasing his returns, it's unclear whether his unsourced claims have succeeded in the court of public opinion. While the accusations have kept the general topic in the spotlight, at least some of the attention has been focused on Reid and the veracity of his claims. Undeterred, the Senate majority leader doubled down this week, asking Romney to "prove he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t."
"It's clear Romney is hiding something," Reid said, "and the American people deserve to know what it is."
President Obama and his fellow Democrats have repeatedly pressured Romney to release more of his past tax returns. Romney holds that the release of other tax information will lead to distortion by Democrats and the media.
Tuesday, July 31: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post on Tuesday, but it's one specific comment that is sure to get all the attention: His unfounded accusation that Mitt Romney didn't pay his taxes for a decade while working at Bain Capital.
"Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years," the Senate's top Democrat told the website, recounting what he says a Bain investor called him to tell him a month or so ago. "He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," Reid continued. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look?"
Despite admitting that he is not sure if the rather serious allegation is even true—and refusing to name the alleged tipster, making it impossible for anyone to confirm the claim was even made in the first place—Reid carried on with his goading as though it were established fact.
"You guys have said his wealth is $250 million," Reid continued. "Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."
Here's HuffPo with the political analysis of Reid's rather bold claim:
But there is limited political downside to the type of open speculation that Reid is making, so long as Romney refuses to budge on the issue of his tax returns. Increasingly, other Democrats are growing more assertive in their goading. In an appearance at the Center for American Progress on Tuesday, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland argued that he could openly speculate as to whether Romney "is a tax avoider" or "cheat" because "his behavior invites such speculation."