The former US Senator from Nevada was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich wrote last month after an interview with Reid that he "does not have a long to live."
But make no this mistake Harry Reid is still the same boxer and political street fighter I covered for decades in the US Senate
A searing critic of President George W. Bush and his administration, Reid now says in the age of Trump, he Wishes for Bush again "every day," saying Bush would be "Babe Ruth" compared to the current president.
In an apparent reaction to the Monday morning interview, Trump returned the spars, tweeting that Reid got "thrown out" he retired) and was working to "put a good swing on his failed career."
At 79, and after a cancer diagnosis, Reid is in an unusually re flective place. Late last week, Reid welcomed us to an office he kept inside the Bellagio Hotel in the heart of Las Vegas Strip, where we talked for over a day about his health, his party, his legacy and of course President Donald Trump. 19659002] Reid says he is now in remission, lucky that the doctors have caught his pancreatic cancer early and noting that it is almost always a death sentence because it is usually too late to treat when finally detected. But the chemotherapy treatment was particularly brutal, compromising several vertebrae to the point where he needed two back surgeries and leaving him unable to walk much without assistance.
Since the 2016 Presidential election, Reid has been colorful in criticizing Trump. He called the now-president everything from "con man" to "human leech" to "big fat guy." He is especially proud of using the word "amoral" in his New York Times Magazine interview because he says it has resulted in a boost in the dictionary definition of the word
I asked him if he had anything nice to say about President. He pondered that question hard, took the time to look for a answer, and after a pregnant pause, finally replied, "I just have trouble accepting him as a person, so frankly I do not see anything he does right."
First elected to the House in 1982 and then to the Senate in 1986, Reid became Senate Democratic leader in 2005 and served one of the longest tenures as the floor leader in the Chamber's history.
He retired from the Senate just a few weeks before Trump inauguration. When I asked if he was sad to miss the chance to go head to head with this president, he demurred
"My time has come and gone as a senator.
Reid: Trump makes George W. Bush look like Babe Ruth of presidents
During President George W Bush's administration, Reid was the Republican president's chief antagonist in the Senate. He famously called the 43rd president and "loser," and a "liar," and even the worst president ever had.
Having covered all of that in real time, I almost fell off my chair when Reid told me that
"There's no question in my"
"He and I had our differences, but no one ever questioned his patriotism. "Reid added"
Reid dismissed calls for Trump's impeachment as a "waste of time" because Republicans who have the majority in the Senate "are so afraid of Trump that they will not get involved in this."
But he does not think Democrats need to worry about the backlash if they decide to move forward
"I do not think there would be a backlash," he said. "
This is also the basis of advice for Democrats running for the White House in 2020.
" The Candidate's Trump is not about how bad President Trump is , they just need to talk about what's good for the country. Everyone knows, even those people who know what problems he has, "Reid said.
His wry sense of humor is still very much intact, Reid proudly displays a framed letter on his office wall that Trump has written him in 2010 congratulating the Nevada senator for his tough re-election bid that year. , Trump brought Reid back into the fold – tweeting about a speech Reid gave in 1993 criticizing birthright citizenship.
Still, he was unbothered by Trump using it as a political weapon
"I guess everything's fair, he found it, let him use it, "Reid said with a shoulder shrug.
Reid's criticism is not reserved just for Trump. He also has harsh words for former FBI Director James Comey for not doing enough to fight Russian interference during the 2016 election. He said Comey did not respond to two letters that Reid, then the Senate Democratic leader, wrote to him asking for more information on intelligence reports that Russia was interdling in the election.
"I watch [Comey] in the halls of, I think it was in Russell Office Building being so self-righteous I almost wanted to say, 'Where were you when we needed you?' "Reid said.
Mending complicated relationships
The last time I was in Las Vegas with Reid was four years ago, after he announced that he would retire after three decades in Congress. During that interview, I asked about one of his more controversial political moves: going on the Senate floor during the 2012 presidential election and questioning whether then Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid taxes
Needless to say, there was a very bad blood between Reid and Romney. Now, Reid revealed he made peace with Romney, reaching out through a mutual friend, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt
"I do not want the animosity between me and the senator," Reid remembers saying to Leavitt about Romney, now Senator from Utah. "Set up a meeting for us."
According to Reid, that's exactly what happened. He said they "had a nice visit" and "shake hands and put stuff behind us."
"I'm trying to do that with everybody."
Reid also had a "The best way to make an enemy go away is to become their friend." complicated relationship with the late John McCain.
They locked horns often along the way, but Reid said they talked several times as McCain was spending his final months in Arizona, conversations that now make him smile
"I can remember our joking about it, and towards the end of his life I said, 'John, do you remember the time I had given a speech on the floor? '' And I could see it coming in. I knew he was mad, I could see him still walking towards me, and he said, 'I'm going to knock the shit out of you,' Reid recalled with a chuckle
" "Reid added."
Never look back. was Reid's motto.
"I can remember college, you take a test and people get around to talk about the test. I was never part of that gathering because there was not a damn thing I could do about what I wrote, so I didnt do that. I took the test; that's all I could do. Do not look back, "said Reid
But for a man who spent over 30 years as a fixture in Washington, there's plenty to look back on.
"I made the other mistakes, but that was a doozy," he added, noting that he quickly realized his mistake and fought hard against it opposes the Iraq War in 2006 and helped shepherd in a Democratic majority and made him the Senate Majority Leader.
He talks openly about his proudest accomplishments, and he is the "quarterback" for making Affordable Health Care
A little-known fact about Reid is that he was an advocate for women in his Senate office, especially women with children. 19659051] Harry Reid's love story ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/150331120253-harry-reid-landra-gould-love-story-00001821-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>