GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is engaged in a heated battle with Democrats over his personal tax returns and federal tax rates, plans to promote his ideas to boost the middle class during a campaign rally this morning at a trucking equipment plant in North Las Vegas.
Romney will talk about his new five-point plan "for a stronger middle class," which he unveiled this week, before he travels to Reno to attend private fundraising events with leading Nevada Republicans.
The Nevada visit comes as Romney traded jabs with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who without offering any evidence accused the GOP candidate of not paying taxes for 10 years. Reid said he based his charge on private conversations he has had, including with an investor with Bain Capital, which Romney once ran.
Romney fired back on Thursday.
"It's time for Harry to put up or shut up," Romney said on Sean Hannity's radio show. "Harry's going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because, of course, that's totally and completely wrong. It's untrue, dishonest and inaccurate. It's wrong. So I'm looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources, and we'll probably find out that it's the White House."
President Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic Party have criticized Romney for releasing his personal tax returns for only two years, accusing him of having something to hide.
Reid has refused to back down and said Romney should prove that he paid taxes by releasing his returns.
"People who make as much money as Mitt Romney have many tricks at their disposal to avoid paying taxes," Reid said Thursday in a statement. "We already know that Romney has exploited many of these loopholes, stashing his money in secret, overseas accounts in places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. ... It's clear Romney is hiding something, and the American people deserve to know what it is."
Reid, with most members of Congress, has refused to release his tax records. After the issue of Romney's tax records arose, McClatchy Newspapers made the request of all members of Congress, and 17 complied.
Romney and Obama also have been trading fire over extending the Bush-era tax cuts. Romney wants a full tax-cut extension for everybody, something House Republicans approved on Wednesday. But Obama and Democrats want to end lower tax rates for Americans making more than $250,000 a year.
"The more they raise taxes, the more they lower growth," Romney said Thursday in Colorado, where he unveiled his five-point plan to help the middle class. "It's like a dog chasing its tail."
Romney's Plan for a Stronger Middle Class includes increasing energy independence, improving education and job training, increasing trade, reducing the deficit and helping small businesses - ideas he has touted for months on the campaign trail without adding much detail. The Obama campaign has attacked Romney's tax plan, in which there are few specifics, by pointing to a nonpartisan study that suggested Romney's plan might boost middle class taxes and help the rich.
"We already know what Mitt Romney's plan for the middle class looks like," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. "As an independent study highlighted yesterday, he'd raise taxes by more than $2,000 on middle class families with children to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
Later, Romney will travel to Reno, where GOP activist Patty Wade is holding a fundraiser in her home and for a separate money-raising event. They could raise more than $250,000 for Romney's campaign.
The North Las Vegas stop was scheduled at the last minute. The Romney campaign had decided not to hold a public campaign event in Reno out of respect for the family of Jonathan Blunk, a Reno native who was killed in the recent Colorado theater shootings. Blunk's funeral is today.
Nevada is one of the nation's key battlegrounds in the presidential race. Obama won the state four years ago, but the economy continues to struggle with the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 11.6 percent.
Democrats have a voter registration edge in the Silver State, giving Obama an advantage in 2012. But Republicans are trying to counter that with their own voter registration drive and with an economic message that Romney, as a former businessman, would do a better job than Obama in reviving the economy.