Harry Reid on Obama: ‘He Doesn’t Want to Talk a Lot’

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said his opposition to the White House-supported Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal has not affected his relationship with President Obama.

“Barack Obama and I like each other. I’m thoroughly impressed with his intelligence. I’m impressed with his work ethic and he knows I never have misled him. I told him a long time ago there’s no way I’m going to support the crazy trade bill that passed the Senate. I told him while I was the leader I wouldn’t bring it up and I didn’t,” Reid said at a Washington Post pre-Democratic presidential debate event.

“I don’t like this new deal out, but he respects me for that. He knows I’m not going to be a cheerleader for these trade deals, but I’m a cheerleader for those things I think he’s right. The mere fact that I don’t agree with everything he does doesn’t affect our relationship,” he added.

Reid was then asked when he last spoke with Obama by phone.

“That’s another thing I like about him – he doesn’t want to talk a lot and so I figure most everything you talk about can be resolved in just a few minutes and there’s no need for these long-winded phone conversations, so I don’t have them,” he said.

In the past, congressional Democrats have criticized Obama’s lack of communication with Congress.

“It's hard for us to fathom; I mean, is it just lack of full staffing and resources? Is it professional commitment? Is it a disdain for the legislative branch? I mean, what is it?” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in August of last year. “People like me want to be allies — I mean, I am an ally. So work with us, reach out to us; you know, we're not the enemy.”

“Certainly, Bill Clinton saw us as his offensive line, and so he attended to the nurturing of his offensive line,” former Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said. “And I don't think this president, this quarterback, invests all that much time and effort into the care and feeding of his offensive line.”

During the pre-debate event, Reid said he would like to see Congress raise the debt limit and pass a funding bill before the Dec. 11 deadline.

“I would hope that Speaker Boehner – and, you know, I have said nice things about Speaker Boehner, the country is going to miss him – and I just hope he hangs on long enough that we can get these things that are so crucial to the country done before the first of the year before he leaves,” he said.

Reid also announced his plans to write a letter to the president of Iran in support of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was convicted on espionage charges.

“I would hope with all the work that’s been done between the two countries the last, actually its been couple of years, that the appeal will amount to something. I’m going to weigh in on that,” Reid said. “I’m cautiously optimistic. I think it’s the best thing for Iran and it’s damn sure the best thing for us.”

Reid, who retires from the Senate in 15 months, told the audience he has been dissatisfied with the way the U.S. chooses its presidents.

“You go to New Hampshire, there are not any minorities there and nobody lives there. You go to Iowa and there are a few people there, but again it’s a place that does not demonstrate what America is all about for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “Nevada does that. We are a state that is representative of what America is all about and I think bringing in South Carolina and bringing in Nevada makes a better process for choosing a president.”

Reid said he does not mean to “denigrate” New Hampshire or Iowa but “they shouldn’t be the ones choosing who is going to be president.”

He was also asked about the lawsuit he recently filed against the manufacturer of an elastic exercise band that failed and caused his eye injury.

“I’m not a litigious guy but I think, as my lawyer said, let them respond and I’m going to let them do that,” he said.

Reid added that he heard of someone else that was injured wearing the same type of exercise band.

“I recommend anyone that wears these straps wear safety glasses or don’t use them. So we will see what happens. I don’t need the money, so I will be fine,” he said.