Monday, March 07, 2005

Reid versus Kerry With Swords Drawn

"Reid and Kerry crossed swords two weeks ago at a closed-door meeting of the Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee with a group of labor leaders, and while accounts vary, there's little doubt that things got tense between the new Senate Democratic leader and the party's 2004 presidential nominee. "

"...Kerry was unhappy with the posture of the Democrats and told Reid that they needed to be far more aggressive in fighting President Bush, needed to set up what amounted to a perpetual campaign and needed a plan to prevent Bush from seizing the middle ground in the Social Security fight.

Reid responded that he had set up a campaign-style war room and taken other steps to put the Democrats in fighting mode and made it clear he wasn't going to change course just because Kerry thought something different was needed.

The most extensive account of the exchange noted that Reid had questioned how Kerry had run his presidential campaign in Nevada last year -- he lost the state -- but two other sources say that did not occur.

But several of those in the room described it as an awkward and tough exchange that left no one in doubt as to who was in charge of Senate Democrats. "Reid kind of shot him down," said one person privy to the exchange, adding, "You would never have seen [former Senate Democratic Leader] Tom Daschle do that."

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