Politics & Policy

Harry Reid Has His Own Ideas about Choosing a President

(File photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid criticized the first two presidential-primary states during a Q&A in Las Vegas on Monday, saying Iowa and New Hampshire have undue influence in the presidential-selection process and “do not demonstrate what America is all about.”

After Democrats won the Senate in 2006, Reid used his power as majority leader to push his home state of Nevada from the middle of the presidential-primary pack to the fourth-voting state — behind only Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. At a Q&A thrown by the Washington Post on the eve of Tuesday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, the senator was asked to explain the reasoning behind that push.

“I have been a student of government for a long, long time, and I was always terribly upset about how we were choosing our presidents,” Reid said. “You go to New Hampshire — there aren’t any minorities there; nobody lives there. You go to Iowa, and there are a few people there. But again, it is a place that does not demonstrate what America is all about, for a lot of different reasons.”

“Nevada does that — we are a state that has represented what America’s all about,” the senator continued. “And I think that bringing in South Carolina, bringing in Nevada, makes a better process for choosing a president.”

#share#Candidates and their surrogates typically insult the first two primary states at their peril, and Reid soon moved to soften his initial blow. “I don’t mean to denigrate New Hampshire or Iowa,” he explained, “but they shouldn’t be the ones choosing who’s going to be president.”

#related#Reid wouldn’t endorse any Democratic candidates for president. But toward the end of the interview, he said that Pennsylvania would become “a heavily Democratic state for us come Hillary time — or, whoever wins the primary.”

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders overtook Clinton in New Hampshire polls last month and has made dramatic gains against her in Iowa.

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