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Harry Reid’s bus tour passes through state’s GOP strongholds

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Steve Marcus

Protesters picket outside TJ’s Pizza Shack in Fernley as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) makes a campaign stop Tuesday, April 6, 2010.

Updated Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 4:24 p.m.

Harry Reid Campaign Tour

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shares the spotlight with Benjamin Syang, 17, who was recently accepted into the Air Force Academy, during a campaign stop at the 88 Cups Coffee & Tea shop in Minden, Nev., Tuesday, April 6, 2010. Launch slideshow »
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) greets supporters following a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Monday, April 5, 2010. On Tuesday, Reid was spending the day in Northern Nevada during his campaign bus tour.

MINDEN - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid swung through the state's Republican heartland Tuesday and was greeted with a small but polite band of residents from the opposition.

Among the few dozen mostly supportive Democrats gathered at the 88 Cups cafe were a foursome of conservative activists who had been trying for two days to pinpoint the senator's arrival time.

Reid has long been a polarizing figure in Nevada, more so since becoming the Democratic party leader in 2005. That divide is apparent here in Douglas County, in the northern part of the state, where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats.

Ursula McManus, a 32-year resident, came out to shake the senator's hand in silent opposition to his work in Washington. "He's not going to talk about anything we care about," she said.

Reid went on to deliver an upbeat, informal speech as supporters gathered on this second day of his bus tour through the state.

Reid said he believes the economy is looking better for the hard hit state even though he acknowledged "we're still a long way from getting out of the woods."

But Reid said a Las Vegas homebuilder told him this morning that business was showing signs of a rebound. Even his own hometown of Searchlight was seeing improvements, he said.

The senator listed a few of his accomplishments in Washington: the travel promotion bill that will help foster visitors to tourist-heavy Nevada; major water quality improvements to Lake Tahoe; and the massive health care reform bill.

One Carson City Democrat said she welcomed Reid's tour, saying the senator hit the right notes in his talk and was connecting with voters.

Reid has been greeted by friendlier crowds as the bus continued on, stopping at a senior center in Stagecoach, a family farm in Fallon and a pizzeria in Fernley.

Reid said that when Congress resumes next week, the Senate will take up financial reform as its top priority.

"We're going to take a whack out of Wall Street," Reid said on a campaign stop at Lattin Farm in Fallon. "We're going to go back and do some regulation."

At TJ's Pizza Shack in Fernley, pro-Reid supporters lined the street with homemade posters saying "Give 'em Hell Harry!"and "We can count on Harry Reid and he can count on us."

After Kathy Williams learned she would qualify for health insurance under the new health reform law, she told Reid he would have her support.

"Thank you Harry Reid," she said. "I'll vote for you forever. Thank you very much."

However, a few anti-Reid protesters were also out front. Several veterans on motorcycles said they didn't support the senator.

One veteran, Robert Diffenderfer, 73, of Fernley, refused to shake his hand.

"That's OK," Reid said. "I'm glad you're here. That's what Democracy's all about."

One protester held a sign that said, "Welcome to Reid's throw Nevada under the bus tour."

Reid faces a tough re-election this fall amid his own dismal approval rating and voter discontent with Washington.

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