WASHINGTON -- There are not too many Republican ills that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid will not lay at the feet of the billionaire Koch brothers, especially if it concerns obstruction.
But on Thursday Reid (D-Nev.) linked the pair to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's blockade of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, saying McConnell's behavior shows he cares more for the billionaires than his own vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2016.
Reid based his allegation on internal polling that he said he saw Wednesday, showing voters would be more likely to oppose a senator who blocked hearings and a vote on President Barack Obama's nominee. Reid specifically pointed to Ohio, where Sen. Rob Portman is locked in a tough battle with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D).
While Reid cited a private survey, others have found similar results, including a Quinnipiac University poll.
Democrats need to win four seats to take back control of the Senate (five if Republicans win the White House), and swing states such as Ohio, New Hampshire, Florida, Illinois and Wisconsin all present difficult contests.
“I can’t imagine that Sen. McConnell thinks this is helping his people who are up for re-election. I think that that’s pretty clear, that all evidence points to the contrary," Reid said at a new conference where he released a letter calling on McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to proceed with Garland.
While accusing McConnell of making life tough for his own senators, Reid pointed to the Kochs as the reason.
"He is appealing to a very small base, namely the Koch brothers and their minions,” Reid said.
Reid also pointed to some clean energy tax breaks that he blamed the Kochs for killing earlier in the week as more evidence.
A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment specifically on Reid's charge, but suggested none of the tactics of Democrats and outside interest groups were having any impact.