Reid and Lieberman patch things up after 'double-cross' comment
By Paul Kane
For the second time in less than a week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) found himself trying to clarify private remarks, this time about Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).
Reid and Lieberman both issued statements Thursday to show there is no lingering bad blood over a report that the leader said he had been "double-crossed" by Connecticut's junior senator. Reid was referring to Lieberman's opposition to a government-run insurance plan in the massive bill overhauling the nation's health care.
"Senator Lieberman and I have a very open and honest working relationship. On issues ranging from foreign policy to health care, even when we disagree, he has always been straight-forward with me," Reid said Thursday.
Reid did not deny the comments attributed to him in a New York Times Magazine profile. Nor did he apologize for them. The Times reported that Reid became very angry upon learning of Lieberman's opposition to a so-called public-option alternative, on which Reid had been working. Reid believed that Lieberman would wait to object at least until seeing an independent analysis of the proposal. Instead the Connecticut senator declared his opposition on CBS's "Face the Nation", leaving the plan short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a Republican filibuster.
The Times' report, which was published online Wednesday, says that Reid was initially so angry he wanted to let the bill die and have Lieberman deal with the political blame. "He double-crossed me. Let's not do what he wants. Let the bill just go down," Reid said Dec. 13, according to a report based on "associates" of the senator who relayed the quote to Times reporter Adam Nagourney.
Lieberman objected to that characterization, and his office produced a Dec. 10 letter to Reid outlining his opposition to the proposed compromise. Shortly after Reid released his statement of support for Lieberman on Thursday, Lieberman issued his own statement, saying, "I appreciate Senator Reid's statement in response to the comments attributed to him in the New York Times Magazine."
"As Senator Reid indicated in his statement, he believes, as do I, that we have always been honest with each other and any suggestion otherwise is simply false and contrary to the truth," Lieberman added.
This follows the apology Reid issued Saturday, when it was revealed that, in a private conversation with authors of a 2008 campaign memoir, "Game Change", he referred to Obama's appeal to white voters because of his "light skin" color and his lack of talking with a "Negro dialect." Democrats lined up in support of Reid, as did Obama,
The episode is the first public flare-up between Reid and Lieberman, despite the latter's outspoken support of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 campaign against President Obama. While many liberal activists wanted to punish Lieberman -- either by ejecting him from the Democratic caucus or by stripping him of his chairmanship of the homeland security committee -- Reid was protective of Lieberman and worked out a compromise that kept him in the caucus with his chairmanship in tact.
Lieberman has been a reliable Democratic vote on almost every key issue in the 111th Congress so far, from the $787 billion stimulus plan to the budget. Reid has repeatedly praised Lieberman's work this year despite continued opposition to him from liberal activists. After the public option was removed from the health-care bill, Lieberman joined the other 59 members of the Democratic caucus in support of the bill.
January 14, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Cast of Characters
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