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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.

By Paul Kane  |  January 14, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Cast of Characters  
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Next: Union leaders say they're happy with health-care deal


are Reid's comments racist? no, the truth is never prejudice. is Reid a racist? yes...he's white

Posted by: project_mayhem | January 15, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Term limits. Considering the shape of the Constitution, economy and lost morality of the USA, congresspeople, with the exception of Ron Paul, are all rat excrement. At 55 years of age, I've seen the lies and the feckless promises.

Put all government employees on social security, most of all congress people.

That FOX News, cnbc, msnbc, and the networks and failing newspapers HAVE REFUSED FOR DECADES to make TERM LIMITS a sustained headline ... they are as bad as congress.

Stephen Markovich

Posted by: AynRand7 | January 15, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Democrats know not to cross LIEberman or their AIPAC donations will dry up.

Posted by: angie12106 | January 15, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The very idea of Reid having to apologize to Lieberman -- the self-centered, self-righteous, self-involved turncoat prima donna of the Senate -- is revolting. The damage Lieberman has done to the nation, for no discernable reason except to posture as holier than thou -- is incalculable.

Posted by: herzliebster | January 15, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Reid doesn't care whether the public option is in the bill or not. This story is just DC smoke and minors, created to appease the left wing of the DEMS, so they can blame Lieberman for not having the Public Option.

Few in the DEM leadership, including Obama, care about what's in the bill or whether it's good for the country, just has long as Obama signs a bill titled Health Care Reform.

Posted by: johnnyapplewhite123 | January 15, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Lieberman. Well I can't even say it. What's wrong with Connecticut?

Posted by: MNUSA | January 15, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

A big patch over Liebermans lips could do wonders for him.

Posted by: eaglehawkaroundsince1937 | January 15, 2010 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Harry Reid works for me. I thought him singularly uninspiring before the health care brouhaha. He did the Majority Leader's job well there, under very difficult circumstances.

Sometimes the nerd with the coke bottle glasses rises to the occasion, and is just the man for the job, and once you've seen it, you say "There was something about this man's spine that I didn't know before". This, although he may not be a world-class public speaker, or grass roots campaigner.

Harry Reid has won my respect. I hope he keeps his seat in the Senate - and I surely hope that Joe Lieberman loses his.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 15, 2010 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Although they are not perfect, it would be political suicide for us not to return Sens. Reid and Ensign to the Senate. Every comment by Sen Reid gets blown out of proportion, misinterpreted or perverted for political gain. Only those who have not completely thought it out, partisans or closet supremacist Nevadans could be persuaded by outside Teabaggers and Birthers to throw away their unique ability to influence the laws and policies that affect Nevadans and the Nation. Who and what state do you want to be the leader of the Senate? Do you really expect us to believe this soft spoken, hard working Senator is akin to the Devil? I pray that the hate filled, obscene comments coming from the fringe Left and Right will backfire and normal Nevadans will realize that the benefits of having Sens. Reid and Ensign greatly outweigh the results of removing them!

Posted by: blackvegas | January 15, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm hoping that the next installment of Thomas Harris's "Hannibal Lecter" franchise involves the eating of Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 14, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

LOL! :-D

Lieberman and Hairy having at it!

Both are probably last-termers anyway!


The beginning to the end of the end of the US!

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 14, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is the stickiest thing ever. He is spy and works not for the interest of this country.

Posted by: lhao333 | January 14, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

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