My POLITICO Magazine piece on Reid and Obama

You could sense when they campaigned together that Barack Obama and Harry Reid—as different as two politicians could be—had a genuine affection for one another.

I still remember a moment during the 2012 presidential campaign when Obama, the great orator, joked about Reid’s limited skills in that department, and the Senate majority leader, sitting behind the president, grinned as broadly as I have ever seen him. The hug afterward was like many I saw—it appeared heartfelt, not perfunctory.

I later asked someone who knew both men if this was real or staged, and he insisted the show of affection was authentic. The relationship between Washington’s two top Democrats had already survived revelations in 2010 about Reid’s description of the president as being able to speak in a “Negro dialect” if he wanted to, and it would withstand last year’s tension over the White House’s legislative agenda sinking in the Senate miasma.


From what I’ve seen and reported, Obama appreciated Reid’s willingness to always (or almost always) have his back in a congressional process he disdained, and Reid loved that the president let him do what he does best—wrangle votes for impossible tasks such as passing Obamacare—without much interference. The White House knew that down the avenue was Harry’s House, and the president respected that.

Until now, perhaps?

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