Recent polls suggest voters expect presidential candidates to be more forthcoming about their taxes.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada turned heads this week by suggesting that Mitt Romney is withholding his tax returns because he didn’t pay taxes over a 10-year stretch.
In doing so, Reid burnished his reputation for lobbing occasional stinging insults and seized on a Democratic attack line that seems to be resonating with voters.
Reid said Tuesday in an interview with the Huffington Post that he had learned of Romney’s tax history from “a person who had invested with Bain Capital.” But when pressed, he declined to identify the investor or cite any proof for his claim.
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson declined to share more information about the investor, saying in an email: “I have no information beyond what he said. If Mitt Romney is upset with Senator Reid’s remarks, there’s a simple way for him to clear up the matter: Release his tax returns.”
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The Romney campaign did not respond to requests for comment; it has previously denied rumors that the Republican presidential challenger hasn’t paid taxes in any given year. Romney has said that releasing more than two years of his tax returns would only provide fodder for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Recent polls suggest voters expect presidential candidates to be more forthcoming about their taxes: Just over half of voters in the key states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania think candidates should “publicly release several years of tax returns,” according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, The New York Times and CBS News.
A USA Today-Gallup poll published last month found that a majority of Americans — and almost one-third of Republicans — think Romney should release more tax information.
Whether the senator’s statement was true, it adds to a long list of remarks by the Democratic leader that Republicans call “foot-in-mouth moments.”
In 2004, Reid called Bush a “liar” in response to the president’s plan to move nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a chief home-state concern of Reid’s. He called Bush a “loser” in 2005 during a meeting with high-school students. He apologized for the “loser” comment but not for calling the president a liar.
Beyond Congress, Reid called then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan “one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington” and said Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was “an embarrassment” and ill-equipped to serve as chief justice.