Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – who announced on Friday that he’s ending his nearly three-decade-long congressional career – will likely be remembered by Democrats as a soft-spoken but sharp-tongued leader.
Reid, 75, has acknowledged his brusque reputation, telling The New York Times Magazine in 2010, “I’d rather people were saying, ‘Oh that guy is a golden-tongued devil’ ” than worrying about how his remarks may be interpreted.
Maybe his time spent as an amateur boxer has something to do with his pugilistic rhetoric. Here’s a look at some of Reid’s most colorful quips, comebacks and –yes—insults.
“You son of a b—-. You tried to bribe me.” In 1978, when a man named Jack Gordon tried to bribe Reid with $12,000 to approve a gaming device in Nevada casinos, Reid alerted the FBI and they set up a sting operation with secret video to nab Gordon. At one point, Reid lost his cool. He got up from his chair, attempted to choke Gordon, and said, “You son of a b—-, you tried to bribe me!”
“This guy is a loser” In 2005, a high school student asked Reid what he thought about then-President Bush. “The man’s father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser,” the Democrat said. Coming under criticism, Reid later called the White House to apologize.
“That’s a clown question, bro” Reid, in June 2012, stole a line from Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper, who used this funny phrase when the then 19-year-old athlete was asked if he’d take advantage of the lower drinking age while in Canada. Reid responded the same way when asked by a reporter if he’d bring the Dream Act to the Senate floor as a way to get Republicans to talk on the record about immigration.
“His poor father must be so embarrassed” In July 2012, Reid took a jab at Mitt Romney via The Huffington Post for not releasing more tax returns, even though Romney’s father turned over a dozen years of tax returns when he ran for the nation’s highest office in 1968.
“House Republicans have truly lost their minds” In 2013, Reid was asked about House Republicans’ 37th attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Citing Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, taking the same action over and over but expecting different results, Reid said Republican House lawmakers have “truly lost their minds”
“Why don’t they get a life?” Again in 2013, Reid had some biting words for Republicans over the Affordable Care Act after the Democratic-led Senate passed a bill that would keep the government funded while getting rid of a provision to defund the health care law. “Obamacare has been the law for four years. Why don’t they get a life and talk about something else?” Reid asked. “People deserve better.”
“Everyone sit down and shut up” In August 2013, Reid became irritated that a transportation spending measure wasn’t advancing because some of his colleagues were talking. In trying to restore order, he told the presiding officer to “have everyone sit down and shut up.”
“To be on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is to be on the right side of history” Last June, Reid took to the Senate floor to respond to the former vice president’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which Cheney accused Obama of abandoning Iraq to radical militants. Reid added, “If there’s one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars.”
“Like a fool, I kept coming back” On Friday, while discussing with The New York Times about his decision to not run for another term, Reid invoked a little bit of humor. He said he was happy to help pass Obamacare but acknowledged his frustration with Republicans. “I am so happy that we were able to get the health care bill passed,” he told the publication. “Like a fool, I kept coming back.”