Reid promises to be ‘softer majority leader’ |

Reid promises to be ‘softer majority leader’

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS ” Nevada Sen. Harry Reid says he plans to be a “softer majority leader” once fellow Democrat Barack Obama holds the White House and the number of Democrats in the Senate swells.

“I will be able to be a different leader. I will have the votes,” Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There will be a different, softer majority leader, not because of being afraid to continue to fight but there is no need to.”

Reid has had many public battles with Republicans and the Bush administration in his first two years as majority leader. He has described the Iraq War as “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of our country” and President Bush as “the worst president we ever had.”

He told the paper his fights helped draw distinctions between the parties and helped Democrats win the presidency and new majorities in Congress.

“Even though my fighting for two years at times was not very photogenic, at the end of it is a pretty good picture,” Reid said.

Reid made the comments a day after he was elected to a second term as Senate majority leader for the two-year session that will begin in January.

He’s already positioning himself for a 2010 re-election campaign where Republicans have indicated he will be a target for defeat.

Reid, who has been in Congress since 1983 and in the Senate since 1987, plans to tell Nevadans he has accomplished more for the state than any of his predecessors.

“As I look back on the years of knowing something about Nevada history, I know what others have been able to accomplish and no one has been able to do what I have done,” Reid said. “That includes Pat McCarran, Howard Cannon, Alan Bible,

Paul Laxalt, you name them. If that is boasting I don’t mean it to be that way, but I am trying to be as factual as I can.”

In the meantime, Reid said his job as majority leader will get easier “without question” next year.

Rather than managing a one-seat majority, Reid will lead a Senate containing at least 58 Democrats.

As another example, Reid said he will no longer be solely responsible for filling Democratic slots on federal boards. He has several staffers working on that full time but those candidates will be vetted at the White House in an Obama administration.

And he compared his soon-to-end combative relationship with President George W. Bush to that of bighorn sheep that seek to establish dominance by running at each other and ramming their horns together.

“That is what George Bush and I have been doing, and we won’t do that anymore,” Reid said. “I will have nobody to butt heads with.”