You won’t get any apologies out of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
At least not when it comes to Mitt Romney—and the unsubstantiated rumors Reid spread during the 2012 presidential election about Romney not paying taxes.
Reid (D-Nevada) spoke with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Monday about the comments, which have come under renewed scrutiny after an interview with CNN last week.
“I have no repentance, because it was an issue that was important,” Reid said. “The American people deserve to know.”
“It’s true that there was no evidence?” Ramos asked.
“Listen, there’s an easy way to resolve this,” Reid replied. “Let him give us his tax returns.”
Being provocative is nothing new for Reid, but he may be feeling even less inhibited than normal. The 75-year-old announced in late March that he would not run for reelection in 2016, following a brutal eye injury he sustained while exercising on New Year’s Day. He also faced a challenging path to re-election in Nevada.
The comments about Romney have “been blown way out of proportion,” Reid told Ramos.
“Of course he paid taxes,” Reid said. “What he didn’t do is let us see his tax returns.”
The Senate Minority leader also gave his thoughts on the 2016 presidential election.
“Hillary Clinton has a resume that is unsurpassed,” Reid said. “She’s so smart and was a wonderful first lady, was an outstanding secretary of state. I think she would be a good president.”
Although Reid plans to retire at the end of his term, his endorsement could still carry weight after three decades in the Senate.
Speaking with Ramos, Reid said “the country is ready for a female president,” but struck a contentious tone on the issue of women’s reproductive rights.
Ramos: “You are against abortion, right? You said, ‘I clearly oppose abortion.'”
Reid: “Yeah, Jorge…”
Ramos: “What would happen in this country if abortion would be illegal. What would happen to women in this country?”
Reid: “Jorge, I have been supported, I am right now supported by NARAL, the Feminist Majority, Planned Parenthood. This is an issue that is so easy to deal with. If someone really is concerned about abortion, why don’t they agree with me? Okay. Why don’t we do something to stop unwanted pregnancies? That’s what we should do.”
Ramos also pressed Reid on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that protects a woman’s right to an abortion. Reid has voted against the ruling in the past, although his anti-abortion advocacy has cooled in recent years. He earned a 92 percent rating in Planned Parenthood’s 2015 Congressional scorecard, for some perspective.
Ramos: “You don’t think it should be overturned?”
Reid: “No, I don’t think it should be overturned.”
Ramos: “Regardless of the fact that you oppose abortion.”
Reid: “Because times have changed over the decades since I made that statement.”
During the interview, Ramos asked Reid if immigration reform was “a lost opportunity” for the Democrats, who controlled Congress and the White House for the first two years of the Obama presidency. The Nevada senator said rebounding from the economic crisis was the main priority at the time.
“Weren’t those the same months that we were trying to recover from this economic downturn, is that right?” Reid asked. “And that was all hands on deck. There was a fire and we had to help put it out.”
Reid added that the Senate was able to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013. Of course, by then, Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, and their leadership opted not to vote on comprehensive legislation.
“I spent more time on immigration reform than any other issue in the Senate since I’ve been there,” he said. “So I don’t feel very bad that we didn’t get something done during the time the country was on fire.”
Ramos also questioned Reid about the facial injury, which has left him without sight in his right eye. According to the veteran senator, he was exercising with a resistance band when it snapped, injuring his eye and sending him careening into a file cabinet. Reid broke bones in his face, as well as four ribs.
“It looked like somebody had hit you,” Ramos said in the interview. “Are you afraid that you might not regain your eyesight?” he continued.
“No, I’m over that, ‘cause I can’t see out of my eye, and that’s the way it’s going to be until something comes along that’ll change it,” Reid said. “Right now, I’ve had 11 hours of surgery. They’ve tried. I can’t see out of my right eye. And that’s okay, I can live with that.”
Some conservatives on the Internet don’t believe the exercise story and have seized on a conspiracy theory that imagines — without evidence — that Reid was roughed up by the Mafia in Vegas.