Mitt Romney on Thursday said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) needs to “put up or shut up” when it comes to charges the presumptive GOP nominee did not pay his taxes.
Romney also accused the White House of being behind the allegation.
After Romney made his remarks, Reid released a statementby his original allegations, saying it is “clear Romney is hiding something.”
“People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes. We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands,” he said late Thursday.
“When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it’s his obligation to put up, and release several years’ worth of tax returns just like nominees of both parties have done for decades,” he added.
Reid concluded: “There is only one thing he can do to clear
this up, and that’s release his tax returns.”
The Senate Democratic leader, who has played an attack dog role for President Obama in the past, said earlier this week a Bain Capital investor called his office to tell him that Romney had avoided paying income taxes.
Reid said the investor told him: “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” according to the Huffington Post.
He doubled down on his remarks on Thursday, taking to the Senate floor to repeat his allegations.
"So the word is out that [Romney] hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't. We already know that from one partial tax return that he gave us, he has money hidden in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and a Swiss bank account," Reid said.
Romney has said explicitly that there was no year in which he paid nothing in federal taxes, and Reid has refused to identify the investor or offer any evidence to back up his allegations.
The Obama campaign has been pushing the presumptive GOP nominee to release more of his tax returns. Romney has released his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011 but said he won’t release any additional years.
Reid echoed another part of Team Obama’s strategy in his remarks — to paint Romney as wealthy man who is out of touch with regular people — saying the GOP hopeful "makes more money in single day than the average American middle-class family makes in two years."
Romney, in speaking to Hannity, turned the conversation back to the economy, which has been his major campaign talking point.
“The Obama campaign is going to do everything in its power to talk about anything but the president’s record,” he said, adding “so they put all this baloney out there and people can smell it for what it is and it’s not a pretty smell.”
The Daily Caller first reported Romney’s remarks.
Republicans have jumped to Romney’s defense.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday blasted Reid for his suggestion that Romney hadn't paid taxes, saying the Senate leader was making statements "without any facts."
"It's one of the problems that occurs here in Washington, people run out there without any facts and just make noise. The American people are too smart for this, they'll get to the bottom of this, it clearly is not a fact, and I would think that the Senate majority leader would be smart enough to know that," Boehner said during an appearance on "Kilmeade and Friends."
And senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom criticized Reid for the “baseless” and “shameless” accusations, comparing it to McCarthyism.
“I’m telling you authoritatively, speaking on the behalf of the governor, that those charges are untrue, they are baseless, and there is nothing to back them up,” Fehrnstrom told “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the accusations "beneath the dignity of [Reid's] office."
“I think the Majority Leader has more important things to do than use the Senate as a forum for his baseless accusations," he told the Daily Caller.
— Geneva Sands contributed
-- This story was updated at 9:04 p.m.