With one the utterance of one sentence accusing the Republican nominee of not paying taxes for ten years, Harry Reid dropped a bombshell on Mitt Romney and switched the national discussion back to Romney’s tax returns.
HuffPo reported on their interview with the Senate Majority Leader,
Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.
“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.
“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?
“You guys have said his wealth is $250 million,” Reid went on. “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.”
Notice that Reid goes out of his way to say that he doesn’t know if the allegation is true or not. This is an important hint of the intention behind the claim. Sen. Reid’s statement was not really about the question of how many years Romney paid taxes. His point was to put Mitt Romney’s tax returns back into the spotlight.
By suggesting that the Republican nominee did not any taxes for a period of time, Harry Reid changed the political discussion in this country. By not releasing his tax returns, Mitt Romney has turned a bit of gossip that someone heard and passed along into a national news story. The story of Mitt Romney’s tax return secrecy is so explosive that it can return to the top of the news cycle at a moment’s notice.
What Harry Reid did was a brilliant piece of political strategy. He has placed the Romney campaign back on the defensive. The media will once again start asking questions about Romney’s tax returns, and the only way that the Republican nominee can satisfactorily answer these questions is by releasing his tax returns.
There was some chatter earlier today that Romney might try to use the Olympics, his running mate selection, and the Republican convention to play out the clock and avoid releasing his tax returns. As long as Democrats can revive the issue at will, Romney be facing scrutiny about his decision not to release his tax returns from now until November.
To the dismay of many Republicans, it looks like Mitt Romney is willing to lose a presidential election if that is what it takes to keep his tax return secrets buried.