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Harry Reid channels Bryce Harper: 'That's a clown question, bro'

June 19, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli

WASHINGTON -- Perhaps no one has been more enamored of Washington Nationals' rookie slugger Bryce Harper than his fellow Nevadan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid, a great lover of baseball, brings up Harper almost weekly in his press briefings on Capitol Hill, including Tuesday, when, in a display of pop-cultural proficiency, Reid popped off with "That's a clown question, bro" -- Harper's put-down gone viral -- when asked a political question on Capitol Hill.

Reid was being questioned about the muted Republican response to President Obama's decision to allow young illegal immigrants a temporary reprieve at deportations, a policy that grew from the Dream Act.

Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, has yet to substantially address the issue, and fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill are largely holding their opinions until he does. But Republicans have led opposition to the Dream Act, which would put young people who were brought to this country illegally as children on a path to citizenship, and Reid was asked if he would try again to pass the bill.

"I don't want to answer that question. That's a clown question, bro," Reid quipped, to immediate laughter from the assembled press corps.

Harper, like Reid, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon. When a reporter asked the 19-year-old ballplayer if he was going to celebrate a monster home run in Toronto with a drink, taking advantage of Canada's lower drinking age, Harper scowled and famously said: “That’s a clown question, bro." The phrase quickly became an Internet sensation and sparked a guessing game in Washington as to when it would take hold in the capital city’s other major pastime, politics.

Reid has a well-known soft-spot for fellow Nevadans who have done well, and he recently visited Harper before a home-game at Nationals Park earlier this month.

Baseball has been a longtime love of the senator's, and in his 2008 autobiography "The Good Fight," Reid talks about growing up in the dusty desert town of Searchlight, Nevada, listening to ball games on the radio.

But his pop-cultural tendencies do not stop there. Reid had once suggested Britney Spears had got her mojo back and has been known to discuss swap song suggestions for his iPod.

Lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

Michael.memoli@latimes.com

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