John Avlon
August 7th, 2012
07:54 PM ET

OutFront Political Strike Team weighs in on Romney vs. Reid tax return battle

Harry Reid is claiming Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes for 10 years. He’s keeping the issue alive for Pres. Obama, but he’s also refusing to reveal his sources, or his own tax returns. The Washington Post gave Reid’s claim four Pinocchio’s.

Our OutFront Political Strike weighed in on who they thought was winning the war of words over Romney's taxes.


Sasha Issenberg – Romney's winning the battle but losing the war.

Taegan Goddard – Reid is winning the war of words - but only because he's not running himself. The White House is wise to stay away from the dispute but President Obama wins every day Mitt Romney looks like he's hiding something from the American people.

Nia-Malika Henderson – Reid wins this round for two reasons:

1.  Romney and the Republicans gobbled up his bait by simply responding.

2.  Reid has raised the idea (which is completely unsubstantiated), that Romney paid no taxes at all and now that idea is in the political conversation, underscoring the narrative that Democrats want out there which is that Romney's a rich guy who plays by a different set of rules.

David M. Walker – Romney and Reid are both losing the war of words on taxes at the present time. Gov. Romney should release at least 5 years of his tax returns. In addition, Sen. Reid should not make unsubstantiated claims or ask Romney to do something that he has not done.

Scott Wong – Advantage Reid. We've been talking about Mitt Romney's taxes for an entire week now rather than what Republicans really want to be talking about: how the economy is still struggling under President Obama.

Alexander Burns – From a purely political standpoint, Harry Reid is winning this one. As my colleague Manu Raju has reported, Reid believes the allegations he's making and knows he faces no personal political risk in making them. Meanwhile, he's keeping the story of Romney's tax returns alive and growing. Folks may find the tactic distasteful, but it's hard to dispute that Reid's getting the outcome he wanted.

LZ Granderson – Reid. Why? Because we're talking about Romney's taxes. We have to keep two things in mind 1) Reid didn't accuse Romney of evading taxes for 10 years but suggested he found legal ways to avoid doing so, much like how GE didn't pay federal taxes in 2010 and  2) Republicans want to see Romney's taxes as well and are wondering what he is hiding.

Omar H. Ali – Reid. The framing of the question "Who is winning the war of words, Romney or Reid?" reinforces the bipartisan framework of our electoral system. Independents, like most other Americans, are deeply concerned about the state of our nation and how to improve our economy, healthcare, and education, among other critical issues, –including how to handle the ACTUAL wars we're engaged in. In the "war of words" Reid may come out ahead since he's just jumped in this media cycle ... But really, the question we should be asking at this moment is How can we move beyond this bipartisan framing? There are literally millions of people leaving the major parties–the fastest growth towards political independence in the last 75 years. Why is this happening? And what do these Americans want? If there is any one theme that runs across the demands of these independents, in terms of our electoral system, it is the need to move towards non-partisan governance, being how divisive and partisan our system is. Supporting open primaries, instituting redistricting that is non-partisan, and including independents in the Federal Elections Commission, are some of the concrete measures that will not only help minimize partisanship and help begin to create new kinds of conversations in the nation but measures that are currently being demanded by independents.

Andy Serwer – I wouldn't say that Reid is winning this battle. But Romney is for sure losing this war (in terms of what he paid in taxes.)

David Gergen – "Neither helping himself. Reid should stop, Romney should release."

Kyle Leighton – Reid, because he's not the one running for President. Every day spent battling Reid is a day that Romney could have been talking about the economy, which he's leading on. But his advantage on the election's biggest issue is being obscured by constantly responding to the Bain and tax issues, and in this case, it's not even coming from his direct opponent. Reid may be getting some flack in the media, but Romney continues to be defined by these issues as we enter the final three months of the campaign.

Carlos Sierra – As the media does their job, it is becoming more apparent that Reid is losing the war of words. However, they both are losing in the world of political civility. Reid is irrelevant in this race and he's doing everything he can to change that status even if it means lying. He's that annoying kid in a schoolyard fight yelling, "fight, fight, fight!" These two men symbolize what is wrong with our current political system.

Candy Crowley – Reid because his  unsubstantiated accusation  has done precisely what he intended...kept the issue of Romney's  tax returns in the news and fed the larger Democratic cause of trying to portray Romney as a rich guy who stands as an example of how the rich don't pay their fair share.

Ronn Owens – As someone who will probably vote for Obama, I am disgusted with Reid. When Romney says put up or shut up he's absolutely correct. It's Reid's job to prove the allegation, not Romney's obligation to prove it false.

Dante Chinni – Right now, probably Reid, even though he could be making the whole thing up. Romney is left in the difficult position of proving the negative unless he releases his tax returns. Reid has done two things, reminded people Romney hasn't released his taxes and upped the ante by suggesting he needs to release 10 years worth. If Romney releases only

5 years, the next question will be "why only five?" For the record, I think people in Washington are paying much more attention to this than the nation at large. But to the people not paying attention the bits getting through are likely "Romney" and "tax returns." That's not good for Romney.

McKay Coppins – Harry Reid is winning, but only because he's keeping the tax return issue in the news.

Gloria Borger – Reid for now, but it could backfire.

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