Published Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 | 10:34 a.m.
Updated Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 | 1:28 p.m.
Mitt Romney has one message for Harry Reid: “Put up or shut up.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was in North Las Vegas Friday morning for a campaign rally. Afterward, he was asked about the Nevada senator’s second-hand allegations that Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years.
“Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor has released his 2010 tax returns and estimates for 2011. Still, he has been dogged by questions about his personal finances, and critics are calling for more disclosure.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, has said Romney is refusing to release additional tax returns because he didn’t pay taxes for a decade. Reid has also referenced the decision by Romney’s father, George Romney, to release a dozen years of tax returns during his 1968 presidential race.
Reid says he was told by an “extremely credible source” that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years, and that Romney has parked “his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.”
In a prepared statement Friday, Reid said the “most secretive presidential candidate since Richard Nixon” visited Nevada on Friday.
The rally was a last-minute addition to Romney’s schedule and was held at Sierra Truck Body & Equipment on Arcata Way. Romney addressed a crowd of hundreds of supporters for about 20 minutes and later fielded questions from news reporters.
During his speech, Romney spent much of his time talking about job-creation and the economy, while also blaming President Barack Obama for the country’s financial woes. Romeny pledged to make North America “energy independent,” improve U.S. schools, increase trade with Latin America, reduce the national debt and support small business.
He also cited the Las Vegas Valley’s struggling economy and referenced the North Las Vegas City Council’s decision in June to declare a financial emergency.
The Las Vegas area had a 12.1 percent unemployment rate in June, compared to 11.6 percent statewide and 8.4 percent nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Dale and Joyce Burnett, a married couple from Las Vegas, attended the rally Friday and said they support Romney because they want the economy to improve.
Joyce Burnett, a pre-school teacher, said Romney, a former private equity executive, understands “the basics” of the free market.
“We’re hoping he’ll make things better,” said Dale Burnett, who works in a call center.
Some protesters gathered across the street from the campaign event. Some of the protesters wore pink shirts and held signs in support of Planned Parenthood.
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political wing of the health care provider, endorsed Obama in late May. At the same time, the group launched a $1.4 million ad campaign to support Obama and portray Romney as having “out-of-touch and harmful” views on women’s health. Romney has said he would “get rid” of Planned Parenthood if elected president.
One of the protestors Friday was Howard Wilson, a 58-year-old property manager from North Las Vegas. Wearing a pro-Obama T-shirt, he criticized Romney for not releasing more tax returns.
“Obama had to show his birth certificate a thousand times; they’re still saying he wasn’t born in the United States,” Wilson said. “All we’re asking Mitt Romney is to show his taxes.”
Romney, who soundly defeated his Republican rivals in the Nevada caucuses in February, has visited North Las Vegas several times during his presidential campaign. He also has a high-profile source of support in the region: Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire CEO of gambling giant Las Vegas Sands Corp., has pledged to spend $100 million to defeat Obama.
After the event Friday, Romney was expected to travel to Northern Nevada to attend fundraisers hosted by Reno businesswoman Patty Wade and casino mogul Ben Farahi.
Contribution levels for those events range from $2,500 for a general reception at Wade’s home to a $25,000-per-plate luncheon at Farahi’s mansion in southwest Reno. For $50,000, donors get “preferred status” at the Republican National Convention.
Romney, meanwhile, is still having trouble connecting with many voters, according to polls. Some 52 percent have an “unfavorable” view of him, with 37 percent reporting a “favorable” view, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.
By comparison, Obama is viewed favorably by 50 percent of voters and unfavorably by 45 percent.
All told, Obama “continues to hold a sizable lead over Romney” in the race for the presidency, the research center said. Some 51 percent of voters say they support the president or lean toward him, while 41 percent support or lean toward Romney.