NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Mitt Romney on Friday said that he had paid “a lot of taxes” every year and accused the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, of falsely claiming that he had not — saying the senator did so as a tactic to draw attention away from lackluster employment and economic numbers under President Obama.
Mr. Romney also suggested that either the White House or Obama campaign officials could be behind what he characterized as false accounts of him not paying taxes for years.
“Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” Mr. Romney said. “So Harry, who are your sources? Let’s have Harry explain who that is.”
Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday that “I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years.” But the senator has provided no evidence to back up the assertion.
Mr. Romney has said he is likely to pay a total of $6.2 million in taxes on $45 million in income over the two tax years of 2010 and 2011; he has released his 2010 return and says he will release his 2011 return when it is completed.
But he declined again on Friday to disclose more than those two years, a refusal that has drawn attacks from Democrats — who argue he must be hiding something — and criticism from many Republicans who fear his unwillingness to adhere to a more detailed and customary tax disclosure is distracting from the Romney campaign’s message.
Mr. Romney said that Mr. Reid’s attacks and the call for more of his tax returns was really an effort to divert attention away from poor jobs numbers and the unemployment rate, which has ticked up to 8.3 percent, according to a new government report on Friday.
“By the way Harry, I understand what you are trying to do here,” Mr. Romney said. “You are trying to deflect the fact that jobs numbers are bad, that Americans are out of work, and you’re trying to throw anything up on the screen that will grab attention away from the fact that the policies of the White House haven’t worked to put Americans to work, and the policies of the Senate haven’t even got a budget in place.”
“Now let me also say categorically: I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes, a lot of taxes,” Mr. Romney added. “So Harry is simply wrong, and that’s why I’m so anxious for him to give us the names of the people who have put this forward.”
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign, or who knows where they are coming from,” he said.