Jon Huntsman Sr. flatly denies being the source of Sen. Harry Reid's controversial statement in 2012 that Mitt Romney hadn't paid taxes in 10 years.
A new book about the 2012 presidential election, Double Down: Game Change 2012, asserts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's claim that GOP candidate Romney had not paid any taxes in a decade was based on information Huntsman Sr. gave Reid. (Jon Huntsman Jr. had already dropped out as a presidential candidate.)
But at an unrelated press conference Saturday in Salt Lake City, Huntsman Sr. said the book is “supermarket tabloid trash.”
“I was never involved in any such thing,” Huntsman Sr. said. “I have no idea where this rumor started.”
He speculated that his business connections and involvement earlier in the Romney campaign could have led reporters to think he was the source of Reid's statement.
“It upsets me that people think I had an interest in [Romney's] taxes,” Huntsman Sr. said.
Huntsman said the authors of the book —journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann—never interviewed him about the rumor. He reiterated that he “absolutely did not” ever discuss Romney's taxes with Reid.
Huntsman Sr. said that Romney, who only released a summary of his taxes during the period in question, is a “dear friend.”
Then, Huntsman Sr. made statement that could easily be construed by Romney supporters as a backhanded dig:
“All I know is my taxes are very high—in the 30s,” he said, explaining that his tax people advised him he could pay less. “It's an honor to live in America. I never look at paying taxes as a burden—it's a blessing.”
Huntsman said he would never consider moving to Wyoming, for instance, which has lower tax rates than Utah. “It's a privilege to pay taxes.”