Remembering Harry Reid: Senate’s political punch-thrower says farewell, leaves trail of gaffes

Outgoing Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid delivered his farewell address Thursday after more than three decades in Congress – leaving in his wake a trail of gaffes and gloves-off political punches that won’t soon be forgotten.

Despite Reid’s reputation for rhetorical warfare, he and his adversaries set aside their differences for Thursday’s sendoff.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., introduced Reid, D-Nev., highlighting a rarely seen friendship between the two.

Go ahead and make up all the stories you want, but the truth is we don’t [despise one another],” Reid said. “Here’s one you can write: thank you, Mitch.”

Harry Reid told stories from his childhood, explaining how his upbringing shaped his ideology and the agenda he pursued – namely, helping pass Obama Care and focusing on suicide prevention. Reid’s maneuvers on President Obama’s behalf were also responsible for the passage of bills ranging from the economic stimulus package to the financial regulation overhaul. At the same time, Reid brought home major benefits to Nevada, funding countless projects, blocking a nuclear waste dump and helping protect many thousands of acres of wilderness.

He acknowledged how much the political climate has changed over his time in Congress and closed by urging the next generation to uphold the integrity of the chamber.

I hope that everyone would do everything they can to protect the Senate as an institution. As part of the Constitution, it should be given the dignity it deserves,” Reid said.

But Reid has played his own part in the coarsening of American politics. Here’s a look back at his more memorable and controversial comments from a 34-year Politics congressional career.

Parting shot at Trump

As other top Democrats ranging from Nancy Pelosi to President Obama congratulated Donald Trump on his White House win last month, Reid took another direction.

He issued a 473-word statement saying Trump’s win has “emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry” as the country is overcome by “tears” and “fear.”

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are racked with fear — especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America,” the retiring Nevada senator said.