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Republicans Hit Harry Reid Hard Over Mitt Romney Tax Charge

Republicans struck back hard today at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for claiming that he had heard presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for a decade.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did not mince words, saying he did not believe the Nevada Democrat. “I think he’s lying,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, went a step further on ABC’s “This Week,” calling Reid a “dirty liar.”

“I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn’t filed a single page of tax returns himself,” Priebus said. “[He] complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz-Carlton here down the street.”

In his regular appearance on the “This Week” roundtable, conservative columnist George Will called Reid’s charge “McCarthyism.”

For the last week, in interviews and on the Senate floor, Reid has launched a one-man offensive against Romney to release years’ worth of tax returns, alluding to a source with ties to Romney’s former company, Bain Capital.

“I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years. People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes,” Reid said Thursday.

Reid’s fellow Democrats would not back up his claim, but they argued Romney was responsible for clearing up the matter by releasing his returns.

“I don’t know who Harry was talking to,” David Axelrod, the top adviser to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, expressed a similar sentiment on ABC, saying she was not familiar with Reid’s source but that the questions about Romney’s taxes have “swirled around” throughout the campaign. 

“Everybody is responsible for saying the things that they have information on. Harry Reid says that he has a credible source,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I know that this question is not just generated by Harry Reid.”

In a “Fox News Radio” interview Thursday, Romney said Reid’s claim is “totally and completely wrong,” telling Reid to “put up or shut up.” He also suggested it may have been coordinated the Obama political operation.

Axelrod and Wasserman Schultz added that Romney could settle the matter within minutes if he released additional years of tax returns. But for Romney, doing so might play into Reid’s hand by giving him more ammunition.

“The contents of the one year of returns he has released would probably be enough to tank his nomination anyway: secret overseas bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, tax avoidance tricks and a lower tax rate than middle-class families pay,” Reid said Friday in advance of a Romney appearance in Nevada.