AP

Obama honors late Senate leader as man ‘who got things done’

Jan 8, 2022, 3:16 PM
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for former Senate Majority Leader Ha...
Former President Barack Obama speaks during a memorial service for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the Smith Center in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former President Barack Obama commemorated the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday as a man “who got things done,” as Democratic leaders gathered from around the country to recall Reid — often laughingly — as a man whose impatience for pleasantries was part of a drive to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

The turnout at Reid’s Las Vegas memorial service testified to Reid’s impact on some of the most consequential legislation of the 21st century, despite coming from a childhood of poverty and deprivation in Nevada. President Joe Biden escorted Reid’s widow, Landra Reid, to her seat at the outset of services, before an honor guard bore a flag-draped casket to the well of a hushed auditorium.

Reid died Dec. 28 at home in Henderson, Nevada, at 82 of complications from pancreatic cancer.

“Let there be no doubt. Harry Reid will be considered one of the greatest Senate majority leaders in history,” Biden said, as leaders credited Reid’s work on strengthening health care and on Wall Street reform and economic recovery in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who described Reid to mourners as a “truly honest and original character,” spoke during an invitation-only memorial. Former President Barack Obama, who credits Reid for his rise to the White House, delivered the eulogy.

Obama said that when Reid helped pass the Affordable Care Act, “he didn’t do it to burnish his own legacy,” recalling how as a boy Reid’s family was so poor that Reid himself pulled out one of his father’s teeth.

“He did it for the people back home and families like his, who needed somebody looking out for them, when nobody else did. Harry got things done,” Obama said.

“The thing about Harry, He never gave up. He never gave up. He never gave up on anybody who cared about him,” said Biden, who served for two decades with Reid in the Senate and worked with him for eight years when Biden was vice president.

“If Harry said he was going to do something, he did it,” Biden added. “You could bank on it.”

Reid’s son, Leif, was one of a series of speakers who recalled his father’s well-known habit of abruptly hanging up on telephone conversations without saying goodbye, sometimes leaving the other person — whether powerful politicians or close family — chatting away for several minutes before they realized he was no longer there.

Leif Reid said it was “part of the narrative” of his father’s life, and tried to explain that the gesture was more about Reid preserving time for family.

“When he hung up on you, maybe so quickly, it isn’t as much about him being brusque as it is about him being devoted to my mom,” Leif Reid said.

“I probably got hung up on the most by Harry Reid, two or three times a day, for 12 years” – Pelosi told mourners.

“Sometimes I even called him back and said Harry, ’I was singing your praises,” Pelosi said. To which Reid replied: “I don’t want to hear it,” she said, before she’d hear the phone click dead.

Reid served for 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a crippling recession and the Republican takeover of the House after the 2010 elections.

Harry Mason Reid hitchhiked 40 miles (64 kilometers) to high school and was an amateur boxer before he was elected to the Nevada state Assembly at age 28. He had graduated from Utah State University and worked nights as a U.S. Capitol police officer while attending George Washington University Law School in Washington.

In 1970, at age 30, he was elected state lieutenant governor with Democratic Gov. Mike O’Callaghan. Reid was elected to the House in 1982 and the Senate in 1986.

He built a political machine in Nevada that for years helped Democrats win key elections. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home left him blind in one eye, he picked former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.

Cortez Masto became the first woman from Nevada and the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

Those flying to Las Vegas will arrive at the newly renamed Harry Reid International Airport. It was previously named for Pat McCarran, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Nevada who once owned the airfield and whose legacy is clouded by racism and anti-Semitism.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Hands holding two small viles of vaccine....
LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer

FDA clears COVID booster shot for healthy kids ages 5 to 11

Pfizer's shot is the only COVID-19 vaccine available for children of any age in the U.S. Those ages 5 to 11 receive one-third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older. Pfizer found a booster revved up those kids' levels of virus-fighting antibodies -- including those able to fight omicron -- the same kind of jump adults get from an extra shot.
18 hours ago
A McDonald's in Russia...
DAVID KOENIG and DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writers

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald's said it's the first time the company has ever "de-arched," or exited a major market. It plans to start removing golden arches and other symbols and signs with the company's name.
18 hours ago
Katherine Gibson-Haynes helps distribute infant formula during a baby formula drive Saturday, May 1...
ZEKE MILLER and MATTHEW PERRONE

Abbott says agreement reached to reopen baby formula plant

Baby formula maker Abbott says it has reached an agreement with U.S. health officials to restart production in its largest domestic factory.
2 days ago
Investigators gather outside the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on Sunday, May...
DAMIAN DOVARGANES and CHRISTOPHER WEBER

California churchgoers detained gunman in deadly attack

Police say that the gunman was detained by churchgoers in an act of "exceptional heroism and bravery."
3 days ago
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson...
CAROLYN THOMPSON and DAVE COLLINS

10 dead in Buffalo supermarket attack police call hate crime

A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and livestreaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”
4 days ago
baby formula...
MATTHEW PERRONE AP Health Writer

EXPLAINER: What’s behind the baby formula shortage?

What should you do if you can't find baby formula? Talk with your pediatrician or call a local food bank to see if they have options.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Obama honors late Senate leader as man ‘who got things done’