Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called himself a “one-man wrecking crew” on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns and warned of “17 angry old white men” spending vast sums on political advertising as he tried to rouse Carson City to vote for Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley and President Barack Obama.
Reid told a packed room in Carson City on Monday that Romney was a “plastic man running for president who changes his position every chance he gets. He isn’t someone who should represent this country.”
In an interview after his speech, Reid said he would try to work with Republican Sen. Dean Heller after the election on issues such as Internet poker, noting his good working relationship with former Sen. John Ensign. But if Berkley wins, he predicted the Senate would not proceed with the House Ethics Committee investigation that has dogged her during the campaign.
Reid called the investigation into whether Berkley advocated for policies that would financially benefit her family “politically driven nonsense.”
When it was noted that Democrats in the House also voted to move forward with the investigation, Reid said: “The ethics committee in the House is different than what we have in the Senate. Much different. If this were not an election year, it would be long gone.”
Asked whether the Senate would take up the ethics issue, Reid shook his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t think so.”
The Senate typically doesn’t have jurisdiction over the actions of House members.
Reid has been a vociferous critic of Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, during this election cycle. In a statement, Darren Littell, Nevada spokesman for the Republicans, dismissed Reid’s criticism.
"President Obama has no record to run on, so is anyone really surprised that his pal Harry Reid is making these idiotic statements?” Littell said.
Reid said he is confident Democrats will keep the majority and even add seats in the Senate.
He said polls show Democrats leading in Indiana, North Dakota, Montana and Arizona, as well as Nevada. But he warned that the election would be close — an experience he’s familiar with. Reid’s close elections — he lost an early U.S. Senate race by 524 votes and won another by 428 votes — spurred him to begin rebuilding the Nevada Democratic Party.
Reid credited that party machine for Democrats’ substantial turnout lead in the first days of early voting this year. He noted Democrats significantly outperformed Republicans in Clark and Washoe counties, but not in Carson City.
“It’s difficult to develop a party organization. People think they can do it overnight, and it can’t be done,” Reid said. “We spent a long time doing this. It’s very intense. It’s expensive. But that’s what democracy is all about.”
Outside of politics, Reid said he continues to work on legalizing online poker.
Reid said he spoke Monday morning with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who told Reid that he was trying to stop Republican governors from sending letters to federal lawmakers urging them to stay out of Internet gaming.
“That’s what I always feared would happen,” Reid said of the possibility that states would call on the federal government to stay out of the issue.
Heller said in a debate this month that he’d have a good working relationship with Reid.
Reid pointed to his relationship with Ensign, who resigned his office and was replaced by Heller.
“I’m not going to say I won’t get along with him,” Reid said.
But he said the relationship got off to a rocky start when Heller opposed the confirmation of a judge whom Reid supported. And it has only gotten worse since Heller “couldn’t get me any votes on this poker thing. And time is a real enemy to legislation,” Reid said.
“I beat Ensign by just a little bit. When he was finally elected on his own, we worked well together,” Reid said. “... And I hope I can develop that same relationship with Dean.”
Reid blasted the money being spent in this election. The spending was allowed in part by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
The Supreme Court had made decisions “that did awful things for this country. But none is worse than this,” he said.
He singled out Karl Rove, who founded the political nonprofit group Crossroads GPS, which is spending vast amounts of money in Nevada’s U.S. Senate campaign and the presidential race.
“After this election, Karl Rove is going to sit down for breakfast with 17 angry old white men,” including Las Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson, who “think the country is for sale.”