Harry Reid Remembers One Impeachment and Ponders a Second

0
15

LAS VEGAS — Former Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has called President Trump the “worst president” in American history. Mr. Trump has said the former Senate Democratic leader’s “failed career” was marked by “lies and deception.”

But on the wall of Mr. Reid’s Las Vegas office, which is discreetly tucked away just a few steps past a gelato stand in the Bellagio casino, he has a reminder of less hostile times.

“Dear Harry: Congratulations — you are amazing,” reads the framed note on “Donald John Trump” letterhead and dated Nov. 8, 2010, shortly after what would be Mr. Reid’s final election.

[Sign up for our politics newsletter and join our conversation about the 2020 presidential race.]

Mr. Reid, 79, is battling pancreatic cancer, but in a recent interview, he showed he has not lost his dry sense of humor. Shortly before he welcomed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to his office for a visit, Mr. Reid discussed Mr. Trump, the Democratic primary and the Senate. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

And you won in ’98, right, pretty narrowly against former Senator John Ensign.

Well, I don’t think so — it was 428 votes.

Tell me what you make of this presidential race. Obviously Biden has gotten in now with a sizable lead. Do you think he’s a formidable front-runner, or do you think this is more of a jump-ball race?

I think that there’s a feeling that the Senate is not — is not dignified like it used to be. You know, we had Fritz Hollings, who just died. He was a person who personified what a person on the street would see in a senator: white hair, great voice, funny. I mean, it’s a shame that someone like Steve Bullock would not run for the Senate.

It’s a shame that Beto O’Rourke — he came to see me at my home. I just lament he’s not running for the Senate.

Did you tell him that, by the way?

I told him I thought he should’ve run, yeah.

What’d he say?

Nothing.

I’ll tell you a story about [former Speaker John] Boehner. I hurt myself, blinded myself in my right eye.

I know.

And so when you lose sight of one eye, the older you get the harder it is to get your depth perception. So they would put us on those little stages. So I said, “John, these stages are hard for me.” I said, “Keep an eye on me because I can’t see going down.” So he didn’t make a big deal out of it. Didn’t talk to anybody about it. But he always was there. And I remember that.

Let me ask you about what happened in 2016 with President Trump winning?

Hillary was at my home Saturday. And we — it’s easy for us to go back and be Monday-morning quarterbacks of our campaign. The fact is I don’t know what more she could’ve done. We were at a time in the history of this country when we had this great mass of humanity, mainly white men, who were just flailing around, and they voted for this guy. “He calls them the way he sees them. We at least know how he stands,” and that kind of stuff, no one recognizing that we would be keeping track of his lies. Now it’s over 10,000.

Let me ask you about Nevada’s role in the primary next year. Do you see Nevada playing a winnowing role? Do you think that we’ll have two candidates left after Nevada, one candidate left after Nevada?

We’re the third state. I think we have the ability to come out of those [early-nominating states] with a nominee pretty quickly. Now, what could go wrong is we have three people that have 30 percent of the vote, and so that’s the concern I have.

And you won’t endorse, you don’t think, until after the caucuses or at all?

No. Everybody knows my affection for Joe Biden. But he knows — I’ve told him I can’t endorse him.

Source