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Senator Harry Reid’s decision this week to hurl a taunting, unsubstantiated accusation at Mitt Romney is hardly out of character for the cantankerous Democratic leader of the Senate, who revels in provocative comments and once called Mr. Romney “kind of a joke.”

On a personal level, Mr. Reid has long been publicly contemptuous of Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee and a fellow Mormon. In 2008, he said Mr. Romney would have been “a tremendous drag” on the Republican ticket. Last year, he said Mr. Romney “doesn’t stand for anything.” And in the last month, he has said that Mr. Romney could not be confirmed as a dogcatcher or a cabinet secretary.

But Mr. Reid’s latest series of tart-tongued volleys — in which he cited an unnamed source who claims Mr. Romney has not paid taxes for a decade — have generated more than the usual outrage from his Republican colleagues and from Mr. Romney himself, who on Friday spent a second day condemning the remarks.

“Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” Mr. Romney said as he campaigned in Mr. Reid’s home state, north of Las Vegas. “I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes, a lot of taxes. So Harry is simply wrong, and that’s why I’m so anxious for him to give us the names of the people who have put this forward.”

The testy exchange between the two men is the latest manifestation of the broader Democratic strategy to highlight Mr. Romney’s wealth and offshore accounts as the party’s leaders seek to disqualify him in the eyes of middle-class voters. The Republican candidate has refused to release more than two years of his tax returns, prompting sarcastic television ads from President Obama and his allies.

The outcome of the Democratic strategy could hinge on its ability to keep the pressure on Mr. Romney. In a statement Friday, Mr. Reid, who has provided no evidence to back up his assertions, said that Mr. Romney’s message to Nevada voters was: “He won’t release his taxes, but he wants to raise yours.”

The New York Times, "In Reid’s Taunting of Romney, Taxes Are Just a New Opening."

Go on, Mitt!  Release your tax returns and shut Harry Reid up!

You did pay those taxes, right?