Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) last Tuesday claimed an anonymous source told him Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney went 10 years without paying any taxes. Without providing any evidence or elaborating on his “sources,” Sen. Reid repeated this claim from the floor of the Senate.
People on both sides of the aisle have expressed shock at Sen. Reid's audacity and some have even called on President Obama to put an end to the smear. As Sen. Reid has refused to explain himself and the president has yet to comment on the issue, a few reporters on Monday pressed White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for clarification.
“President [Obama] has talked a lot about changing the tone in this town, why hasn't he picked up the phone and asked Harry Reid to stop making a charge like that?” asked Fox News’ Ed Henry.
“Look, I think again that the idea that people telling Harry Reid what to do is inconsistent with what everyone here understands to be -- ” Carney started to respond.
“But you can express your opinion that,” Henry interjected.
Carney then tried to explain to members of the press that tax loopholes are bad and people like Mitt Romney use them.
“[T]hat is not the charge. The charge is Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. Does the White House believe that allegation?” the reporter pressed.
“I would refer you to Senator Reid for, I can't, only Senator Reid knows his source, which he has discussed, so I'll refer to you for that,” Carney said.
ABC's Jon Karl entered later in the discussion to force an answer (or at least an opinion) out of Carney.
"One more on Harry Reid. It's a simple question. Does the president think that this allegation coming from Harry Reid, without any evidence, made on the Senate floor, is that below the belt? Does that cross the line?" Karl asked.
Carney said the president is all for transparency.
"The issue here is one of transparency and, again, as the president sees it, in regards to his candidacy, one, it is an important tradition. It allows the American people to get a sense of the candidate's background," Carney responded.
"You can talk to Senator Reid. I'm sure he'll address this issue if you ask him. He certainly speaks for himself. The president is focused on the issues that matter most to the American people," he added.
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