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Senate's Reid Blasts GOP 'Hit Piece'

Democratic leader says Republicans are using a tactic similar to one used to oust his predecessor.

February 08, 2005|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada hit back at the Republican Party on Monday for targeting him with an attack reminiscent of one used to help oust his predecessor, Tom Daschle.

Standing in the Republican-led Senate, Reid called on President Bush to repudiate and pull a "hit piece" against him by the Republican National Committee.

"What they want to do is just like [what] they did to Daschle," Reid said.

Republicans last year effectively branded Daschlea "chief obstructionist" to Bush's agenda on Capitol Hill and persuaded his South Dakota constituents to vote him out of office.

Daschle had served in the Senate for 18 years, his last 10 as Democratic leader.

Reid noted that Bush has called for bipartisanship and said the president telephoned him after the November election and said he wanted to "get along."

"Is President George Bush a man of his word, [or] is what he is telling the American people just a charade?" Reid asked.

At the White House, spokesman Trent Duffy said, "The president looks forward to working with Sen. Reid on addressing our country's challenges."

An RNC spokeswoman said a "research document" about Reid that the Senate Democrat had denounced was being distributed to about 1 million people, including donors, party activists and reporters.

Released late Monday, hours after Reid spoke, the document looked somewhat like a newspaper, emblazoned with the words, "Reid all about it. All the facts you need to know."

"It introduces the public to the real Harry Reid," RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said in a telephone interview. "He can try to paint himself as a centrist, but his votes to block tax reform and tort reform and his opposition to strengthen Social Security prove otherwise."

"We intend to make clear that Reid is an obstructionist who is out of the mainstream, and we will hold him accountable as the Senate leader of the party of 'no,' " Schmitt said.

Reid was elected Senate minority leader by fellow Democrats after Daschle became the first Senate leader in half a century to be voted out of office.

Reid has defied Bush on a number of fronts.

Responding to the president's State of the Union address last week, he denounced Bush's bid to revamp the Social Security retirement program as a dangerous gamble and said Bush needed to draft an exit strategy in Iraq.

As Reid spoke on the Senate floor, he held a copy of Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, with the headline "RNC Turns Up Heat on Reid."

"The Republican National Committee is his [Bush's] committee," Reid said. "He picks the chairman. He picks everyone there."

On Monday night, Reid, described by aides as angry, attended a dinner with a few fellow senators and their spouses at the White House. No further details were available.

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