Politicians Pay Tribute To Former Senate Leader Harry Reid

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Messages of remembrance poured in on Tuesday after former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid died at 82 after a years-long battle with cancer.

Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, entered politics as an outsider who grew up in extreme poverty and rose to become one of the most powerful figures in the party. He served as Nevada’s U.S. senator from 1987 to 2017, leading the Democratic National Caucus from 2005 until his retirement.

“Senator Harry Reid was a true lion of the Senate. He was as tough as they come. A great man, and a great leader,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison (D-S.C.) said in a statement. “While we lost an American icon, his memory will not be forgotten ― and my hope is that we can strive to emulate his leadership and follow in his footsteps to create a better country for all.”

🧵 I’m devastated to hear about the passing of a lion of the Senate & politics @SenatorReid. He was tough, tenacious & man he loved Nevada!

I met him when I was a House staffer. He was a straight shooter & he understood the members of his caucus like the back of his hand.

— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@harrisonjaime) December 29, 2021

Reid was also the Senate majority leader from 2007 to 2015 before becoming minority leader when Republicans gained control of the chamber. As leader, he helped usher in major legislation including the Affordable Care Act ― something that seemed impossible to cobble together enough votes for if it hadn’t been for Reid.

“The nature of Harry’s and my jobs brought us into frequent and sometimes intense conflict over politics and policy. But I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

“When Harry retired from the Senate, we both celebrated the fact that our many differences had never really gotten personal. Harry’s and my paths in the Senate were roughly parallel,” McConnell added. “We seemed to reach each institutional milestone within just a few years of each other. I truly appreciated the sincere and cordial relationship we shared behind the scenes when passions cooled.”

Barack Obama, who was president while Reid was Senate majority leader, said Tuesday that Landra Reid asked those who were close to her husband to share letters that she could read to him in his last days. Obama released his letter in lieu of a statement:

“I got the news that the health situation has taken a rough turn, and that it’s hard to talk on the phone. Which, let’s face it, is not that big of a change cause you never liked to talk on the phone anyway!” Obama wrote.

When Harry Reid was nearing the end, his wife Landra asked some of us to share letters that she could read to him. In lieu of a statement, here’s what I wrote to my friend: pic.twitter.com/o6Ll6rzpAX

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 29, 2021

“Here’s what I want you to know. You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination,” he continued. “Most of all, you’ve been a good friend. As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other ― a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team.

“Enjoy your family, and know you are loved by a lot of people, including me. The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.”

President Joe Biden pointed out Reid’s early boxing career and the toughness it lent to his politics:

A son of Searchlight, Nevada, Harry never forgot his humble roots. A boxer, he never gave up a fight. A great American, he looked at challenges and believed it was within our capacity to do good — to do right.

May God bless Harry Reid, a dear friend and a giant of our history.

— President Biden (@POTUS) December 29, 2021

Tributes came from both sides of the aisle and spanned the generations with which he served and later mentored.

Harry Reid was an outstanding leader and a friend. I have fond memories of working with him on important issues impacting working families, including the vast expansion of community health centers. Jane and I will miss him and send our condolences to Landra and the entire family.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 29, 2021

In the last two years, he would always end our phone calls with “I love you brother.” And that is what our forty year friendship became: a brotherhood, a trust, and a shared love for helping others. Rest in peace, Harry.

— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) December 29, 2021

Harry and I still talked frequently over the last few years. His calls were always classic Harry. Quickly got to the point. And then he would hang up. No flowery good byes. Always made me smile.

— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) December 29, 2021

Sometimes, in a quiet or difficult moment, Harry Reid would reach out. It was like he knew.

His counsel, encouragement, kindness, and generosity was so deeply moving. It was sincere. And I will never forget it.

Thank you, Senator Reid. Wishing peace and strength to his family.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 29, 2021

Harry Reid was one of the clearest thinkers I’ve ever known. He could be extraordinarily tough, but he was always decent and good. He was a fighter but a team player, a mentor and a leader. He extended me kindness I didn’t deserve. I’m just so sad. May his memory be a blessing.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) December 29, 2021

Harry Reid taught us all how to campaign with conviction, govern with guile, and fight like hell for what you believe in.

My thoughts go out to his family—and to the people of Nevada, who have benefited tremendously from his work. pic.twitter.com/4VwpXADXRk

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) December 29, 2021

Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met

He never forgot where he came from and used those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who were hurting the poor & the middle class

He’s gone but will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every day pic.twitter.com/8T9PiD7vY4

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 29, 2021

An American legend. I learned a lifetime of lessons from this wonderful man. He inspired and educated so many – with great decency, principled convictions, and always a willingness to fight the good fight. May all who serve in public life aspire to be like the great Harry Reid https://t.co/kE1lZUPPiO

— Faiz (@fshakir) December 29, 2021

Without Harry Reid, the ACA — including Medicaid expansion, which insures 616K Virginians — doesn’t exist.

When Democrats lost big over it in 2010, he still hung on & won. I learned so much from his campaign that I applied to my first re-election in 2019.

What a fighter. RIP.

— Del. Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) December 29, 2021