- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

The Republicans’ chief outside advocacy group is going after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, accusing him in a new television commercial of abandoning his small-town Nevada values in favor of D.C.-style Democratic politics.

The ads, which begin running today in Nevada, highlight derogatory comments Mr. Reid has made about major figures such as President Bush, whom he called “a loser,” Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called “a hack,” and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom he said was an “embarrassment.”

“Sometimes what goes on in D.C. does not make its way home. We thought it’s important for the people of Nevada to know,” said Brian McCabe, president of Progress for America, the Republican-leaning interest group that spent $35 million on ads to help Mr. Bush in last year’s elections.

“Anyone who goes off and calls the president of the United States a loser is going to cause people in Nevada to say, ‘Well hold on, what’s going on here? This isn’t the Harry Reid we knew,’ ” Mr. McCabe said.

The ads use the same message that Republicans used last year in unseating the former Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota. He lost his bid for re-election amid Republican charges he had abandoned South Dakota values to become the chief obstacle to Mr. Bush’s policies.

The ads cost $50,000 and run through Tuesday on major networks in Las Vegas. They come as Mr. Reid is leading the Democrats’ effort on the showdown over Mr. Bush’s appellate court nominees, which comes to a head with key votes next week.

“Now Reid refuses to even allow judges the courtesy of an up-or-down vote,” the ad’s announcer says. “Is this the same Harry Reid we’ve come to know? What ever happened to Harry?”

Jim Manley, Mr. Reid’s spokesman, said the ads miss the mark.

“These guys must be confusing Senator Reid with someone else because, just like with Harry Truman, he says the truth and they just think it’s hell,” Mr. Manley said.

While Mr. Daschle was losing his election in November, Mr. Reid was cruising to re-election with 61 percent of the vote.

A recent Las Vegas Review-Journal poll found that 55 percent of Nevada voters surveyed think Mr. Reid is doing a good or excellent job.

But the poll of 625 Nevadans, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., also found 51 percent opposed Democratic filibusters of Mr. Bush’s judicial nominees. Another 42 percent said they supported Mr. Reid’s filibuster efforts.

In the South Dakota race last year, Republican John Thune convinced voters Mr. Daschle was the chief obstacle to Mr. Bush’s agenda.

Mr. Manley said that won’t work on Mr. Reid, who has helped Republicans pass some legislation, even if he personally opposed it.

“He played an active role in passing the only three pieces of legislation we’ve passed in the last five months: the class-action bill, the bankruptcy bill and the highway bill. The Republicans are the ones that are being obstructionist because they are refusing to have the Senate debate pressing issues facing the country,” he said.

Both sides are running ads on the issue of judges in key senators’ states, with liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org running a new commercial that uses the story of corruption from the new “Star Wars” movie to attack Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican.

Mr. Reid, who became the Democrats’ leader last year after Mr. Daschle’s loss, often speaks of growing up in Searchlight, a small town in Nevada.

The former boxer also has a reputation for speaking his mind, no matter whom he may upset.

At a recent breakfast with reporters he said he had told a group of trial lawyers, who are among the most generous donors to Democrats, that he was not going to block legislation on asbestos litigation, and told them, “Money has nothing to do with this. If you folks decide you don’t want to give us any more money, that’s the right you have.”

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