Five days before the election, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ruled out trying to work with Mitt Romney should he win next week.
“Mitt Romney’s fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his ‘severely conservative’ agenda is laughable,” Mr. Reid said in a statement on Friday, trying to puncture Mr. Romney’s closing election argument that he’ll be able to deliver on the bipartisanship President Obama promised in 2008 but has struggled to live up to.
Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat and a Mormon, like Mr. Romney, has become the Republican presidential nominee’s chief critic this campaign, at one point accusing him of failing to pay taxes — a charge that Mr. Romney has refuted.
With Democrats appearing poised to keep control of the Senate, a President Romney would have to be prepared to work with Mr. Reid, who would set the upper chamber’s schedule and determine what bills make it to the floor.
Mr. Reid flatly ruled out following Mr. Romney’s agenda, saying he and his colleagues have already voted down many of those proposals, including House Republicans’ budget, written by Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.
“Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he lacks the courage to stand up to the tea party, kowtowing to their demands time and again. There is nothing in Mitt Romney’s record to suggest he would act any differently as president,” Mr. Reid said.
Republicans retorted that Mr. Reid appeared to be preparing himself for a Romney win, and prodded the Democrat, pointing to all the things Mr. Reid wasn’t able to get done even when he did have a fellow Democrat as president and Democrats in control of the House.
“While Senator Reid might want to continue Washington politics as usual, I’m confident that there are many Democrats who value balancing the budget, reducing burdensome regulations, investing in U.S. energy resources and will be willing to work with Governor Romney to help grow our stagnant economy,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Mr. Romney has argued over the last week that his experience in Massachusetts working with a Democratic-controlled legislature has left him prepared to work with Congress. He has also vowed to hold regular meetings with congressional leaders to let both sides talk through their issues.
Mr. Reid challenged Mr. Romney’s memory of Massachusetts, saying he sealed “himself off behind a velvet rope instead of reaching out to build relationships.”
With a huge agenda awaiting them, and control of Congress likely to be split, the next president will have to find a way to work with both parties.
Republicans in Congress — and even some Democrats — have criticized Mr. Obama for failing to do that during his first term. The president won passage of his health care law and the 2009 stimulus, but played defense for most of the last two years as Republicans pushed for spending cuts.