Reid to liberals: Settle down

The Senate majority leader says pressure on Democrats who are wavering on President Obama's budget isn't helpful.

Published March 27, 2009 4:18PM (EDT)

Harry Reid has a message for the liberal groups who are trying to pressure moderate Democrats not to desert President Obama's budget: cut it out.

"I think it's very unwise and not helpful," the Senate majority leader told reporters today at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "It's not helpful to me, it's not helpful to the Democratic caucus."

Reid said he hadn't heard or seen the ads: "I don't listen to talk radio, I don't look at the blogs, and I don't watch cable news." He also accused groups like and the Campaign for America's Future of issuing what are essentially video press releases -- buying a very small amount of air time, but getting disproportionate news coverage for the buy.

A variety of groups launched ads this week, preparing to pressure wavering Democrats into sticking with Obama as Congress debates the budget. The idea is to keep them from forcing concessions that Republicans don't have the power to extract without some Democratic defections.

But Reid said that effort completely misses the nature of the Senate. "Legislation is the art of compromise," he said. "Consensus-building."

Facing re-election next year in Nevada, Reid says he doesn't plan to change his tactics as party leader to cover himself politically back home. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle lost his 2004 campaign in South Dakota, as Republican John Thune painted him as out of touch with the state's values. But Reid said he's raising money and preparing for a battle, even if the GOP doesn't yet have a firm candidate to challenge him.

But many of Reid's critics in the liberal blogosphere -- who already think he spends too much time trying to accomodate moderates in his caucus, as well as Republicans -- worry that he'll become ineffective next year as the election gets closer.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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