The Rachel Maddow Show | August 03, 2012
>> for staying with us for the next hour. honestly, i have to tell you y have been looking forward to this show for a long time. as you know, today, the new jobs report came out showing the economy added more jobs than economists expected but not enough. the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 8.3%. president obama and mitt romney gave simultaneous speeches about the economy and about the campaign shortly after the jobs report came out. the president speaking in washington, mitt romney speaking in nevada. honestly, it's not that weerdz for them to be giving split screen speeches. that's going to happen more and more over the next 95 days, as we close in on the election. but what was weird about today is that mr. romney in nevada took questions from reporters. that basically never happens. his whole six- day trip abroad this past week with the giant entourage of american reporters going to great expense to follow him 24 hours a gai through three countries. he took precisely three questions from the traveling american press corps over that entire stretch. five minutes, three questions over six days. he really never takes questions from reporters, but today, he did.
>> harry reid has said that you didn't pay taxes for ten years according to some sources he hasn't named. could you silence these remarks by disclosing more of your tax returns ?
>> well, harry reid really has to put up or shut up, all right?
>> this is the guy who won't release his tax returns talking about his tax returns . saying somebody else needs to put up or shut up.
>> let me also say categorically, i have paid taxes every year. and a lot of taxes. a lot of taxes. so harry is simply wrong.
>> instead of just going back and forth with harry reid , why not just release the tax returns , just put the issue to bed?
>> actually, you can go on our website, and you can see my financial disclosure statements go back to 2002 . you also can see the tax returns that i put out for 2010 . go on the website. you'll be surprised to see the amazing amount of data associated with our campaign's disclosure. thank you.
>> thank you. you can in fact go on the mitt romney website and look at what haze campaign has put out for his financial disclosure and they have done their best to make it look amazing. still, though, it's only the one year, the 2010 tax return . that's it. the aforementioned harry reid who is a senate minority leader and the senior senator nomnevada put out a statement today welcoming mr. romney to his home state by calling him, quote, the most secretive presidential candidate since richard nixon . forget about president. he couldn't get confirmed as a cabinet secretary . every nominee overseen by the senate finance committee has to release more tax returns than romney is willing to release . mitt romney and harry reid are trading blows right now as if they're running against each other, which no matter what you're fighting about is never a good place to be for a presidential nominee . they call it punching down. no insult is intended to mr. reid by saying that, but romney is running for president, not senator. for him to be in a fight with a senator, anyway. the strange attack that harry reid launched on mitt romney this week has essentially become the fulcrum of all political activity in the president race now, even though it is punching down for romney to respond to it. that's where the race is right now. it started ought strangely on tuesday. senator reid gave an interview to the huffington post in which he made what seemed to be a wild accusation. here's how it appeared in the huffington post . saying he had no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy, harry reid sad up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. a month ago, he said a person who invested with bain capital called his office. he said, he didn't pay taxes for ten years. he didn't pay taxes for ten year years. do i know it's true? i'm not certain, said reid . but he hasn't released the tax returns . how would it look. his wealth, not a chance in the world. it's a lot more than that. you would do well sphyou don't pay taxes for ten years when you're making millions and millions of dollars. very soft spoken guy, mild mannered guy. even for somebody who is usually hyper, that is a little unhinged. an unnamed single source making a phone call to his office with a wild accusation that the senate majority leader then puts on the record to reporters even though he admits it's just heresy and he doesn't know it's true. that's outrageous. it's weird. it rightfully got senator reid roasted by john stewart on the daily show . it seems for all the world that harry reid maybe had slipped up on this. maybe he made a careless decision to make a reckless allegation. he must not have meant it. this slipped out, he must be embarrassed. it has not played out at all that way this week. after furious denunsiations from the romney campaign, senator reid said it again. he took to the senate floor and calmly said it again, what he said to the huffington post , he reiterated it. by then, it was the romney campaign and mr. romney himself denying the allegations.
>> of course, that's totally and completely wrong. it's -- it's untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate. it's wrong.
>> i'm telling you authoritatively speaking on behalf of the governor that the charges are untrue. they're baseless, and there's nothing to back them up.
>> after those responses from mr. romney and his campaign, harry reid put out another statement, this time in writing, reiterating what he said. this anonymous source told him about mr. romney 's taxes and whipping him for not releasing more tax returns . it's understandable that this has focused on harry reid and this strange way he has made this accusation. he's saying, i'm assuming you're dirty. somebody told me you are and you must be so prove that you're not. it naks sense that people are focusing on harry reid , but there are two things from the public record of mitt romney 's life as a public pauld titian that should change or inflect the way this is being discussed. the first is that if you doechblt like the way harry reid is making this accusation, if you think it's unfair or unseemly, you should at least know that mitt romney himself has done this exact same thing that he is complaining is being done to him now. in 2002 , when mitt romney was running for massachusetts governor , he would not release his tax returns . all of the candidates running on the democratic side, reich, birmingham, o'brien, they all released multiple years of tax returns . mitt romney on the republican side , would not release his. when it came time for the jerm election, you had shannon o o 'brien and the republican, mitt romney , who has not released his tax returns . from that position, as the guy who hasn't released his returns, mitt romney attacks shannon o'brien for her husband not releasing his tax returns .
>> shannon o'brien's husband with whom i presume their share expensive, likewise, hasn't released his income taxes .
>> i won't release my tax returns , but your husband must. your returns aren't good enough. i need to see your husband's too, but no, you can't see mine? look at this reporting from april 2002 . one dafr after bolalking about releasing his own tax returns , he launched this attack on o'brien, her hands aren't clean, said romney deputy campaign manager eric fehrnstrom, of o'bri o'brien's release of her tax return but not the filings of her husband. she can't claim to be disclosing anything until she discloses her husband. he went on to say, what is she hiding? this is the campaign that's not releasing anything, yelling at the campaign that has released its tax returns , what are you hiding? fast forward ten years, and now it's harry reid bellowing at mitt romney and eric fehrnstrom, what are you hiding? and mitt romney and eric fehrnstrom are whining and complaining about this horrible tactic and how awful it and the whole press is going along with them without seeing he has done the same thing. if you go to maddowblog.com, we can't release the whole article, but we posted the date and headline and reporter and you can be enterprising and find a way to pay for it online to see for yourself that mitt romney did this exact same thing that harry reid is now doing to romney that the whole press says is so awful. i said there are two things about mr. romney 's past that should redirect the current furor in the presidential campaign right now. one is that he's guilty of the exact same thing harry reid is doing. actually, even a worse variant of the same thing. that he is now whining about with all of the support in the press. but the other thing, it's more important, and actually, it's the whole largely missed but most important part of the whole mitt romney tax question which becomes crystal clear when you look at his record in massachusetts . that's mr. romney is not only refusing to release his tax returns . not just saying no to that request. he's making positive imperical claims about what is in his tax returns . he's not just saying you can't see them. he's saying no, you can't see them and let me tell you what's in them.
>> let me also say categorically categorically, i have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes.
>> my view is i have paid all the taxes required by law. i don't pay more than are legally due.
>> a spokesperson would only reiterate, mitt romney has paid his taxes in full compliance with u.s. law and he has paid 100% of what he has owed.
>> i obviously pay all full taxes, i'm honest in my dealings with people. people understand that.
>> is there some secret? people know you're wealthy.
>> i understand.
>> there's nothing to hide.
>> i agree, there's nothing to hide.
>> these are all assertions by mitt romney himself and from his campaign dating from today all the way back to last year. that last comment to andrea mitchell was december of last year. i have nothing to hide. trust me, i have paid a lot of taxes. i have never paid zero taxes. i have paid many dollars in taxes. i have paid every dollar i'm legally required to. i have paid 100% of what i legally owe, trust me. and this is what has been lost in this campaign furor around mr. romney 's taxes and him not releasing his tax returns . that's that his response is not just, no, you can't see my taxes. his response is no, you can't see my taxes, but let me tell you what's in them. trust me. and what's important about that is that mitt romney has done this before. he did this in massachusetts in 2002 . massachusetts democrats said in 2002 that mitt romney was not eligible to run for governor in the state because the state constitution says you have to have been a resident of massachusetts for seven years before you can run for governor. in trying to prove that allegation, they asserted that mr. romney 's tax returns would show that he had not filed hitaxes as a massachusetts resident. they thought that should disqualify him from being able to run for governor in the state.
>> we believe that mitt romney is not qualified under the massachusetts constitution to be governor because he declared himself to be a nonresident of massachusetts .
>> so for their own reasons, because they were trying to get him kicked off the ballot, massachusetts democrats asserted that mitt romney 's taxes showed him declaring himself to be a non-resident of massachusetts . the romney campaign denied this. they went to reporters and denied that allegation from the democrats. romney filed his taxes as a resident of both utah and massachusetts in 1999 and 2000 , and plans to do the same for 2001 , said romney spokesman, eric fehrnstrom. they wouldn't release the tax returns , wouldn't show them to anyone, but they said trust me. they said trust us . the tax returns show that mitt romney filed as a massachusetts resident. that's what they said. they were lying.
>> the democrats point to romney 's house in utah , which was listed as his primary residence, to support a challenge. they also want to see his tax returns .
>> we have now learned from his own lips this afternoon that mr. romney lied yesterday when he said he had filed resident tax returns in both massachusetts and utah .
>> romney acknowledged today he amended his 1999 and 2000 massachusetts state tax returns to make him a resident here.
>> to make him a resident here retroactively. so after saying all along for months to the people of massachusetts , trust me, whei have been filing my tax returns as a massachusetts resident, it came out under pressure that was not true. he had to go back retroactively and refile as a massachusetts resident because he hadn't filed as a massachusetts resident despite what he was saying in public. he said, trust me y have, when he had not. the romney campaign had held on to that line until the very last moment. literally days before mr. romney finally had to admit, okay, no, i didn't file as a massachusetts resident, up until that week, he and eric fehrnstrom were still saying trust us . earlier in the week, mr. romney rejected a request by the globe for copies of his returns with financial information redacted but hisrential status visible. a romney spokesman later identified by the globe as eric fehrnstrom insisted at the time that the gop candidate had filed as a massachusetts resident but told the globe reporter you're going to have to take my word for it. days later, it turns out the word is worth nothing, at least when it comes to taxes. he waw lying. ten years later, they're saying everything he has ever done in his taxes is lawful. he's never paid zero taxes. he's paid every dollar he's owed. he's paid a ton of taxes. trust us . it's a neat assertion. but it is an empirical assertion, checkable, and the people trying to vet mitt romney for president would like to be able to fact check that assertion. presumably, you guys are making that assertion because you think it has political importh. therefore, you either need to be very trust worthy in your assertion of these things or need us check for ourselves as the american people and the press, and not only are you not letting us check for ourselves, but you have proven yourself in public life to be the opposite of trust worth y on this issue. ten years ago, you lost the benefit of the doubt on this issue. one last parallel in case you still need to be convinced we're reliving ten years ago, he's doing his tough talk thing just like he did back then. the same playbook. right now, harry reid is making his allegation that mitt romney didn't pay taxes. mitt romney is saying that's untrue. he's not just saying it's untrue, he's saying it's untrue while appearing very tough.
>> well, harry reid really has to put up or shut up, all right?
>> all right, put up or shut up? all right, i paid all my taxes. but again, remember, this is a rerun. here is what tough talk mitt romney being called out about his taxes looked like the first time around.
>> if the democrats want to look at my candidacy and file against me and keep me from running, go ahead. make my day.
>> make my day. put up or shut up. argh. in poker, when you're bluffing or when you're under some strain of some kind, people say you have a tell. something that you maybe even subconsciously fall back on every time. mitt romney has a tell. but you have to be willing to look back to the earlier part of his time in public life to see it. hold on, wait,