Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has gone public in the past few days with his firm belief that the Democratic primary will be resolved in a matter of days, not weeks or even months. How can he be so sure? Because he's drawn a line in the sand for those currently undecided party insiders.
"There are only three places to go for superdelegates, the Senate the House and the DNC," Reid told the Writers Bloc at Town Hall Los Angeles on Wednesday. "I have talked to Governor [Howard] Dean. I talk to [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi. We are pretty much in tune. We are going to tell our folks there are only a couple days to make a decision for those who haven't made a decision."
The Nevada Democrat concluded, as he has in other interviews: "We are not going to choose a candidate at the convention. We are going to choose the candidate a week from today."
Reid's increased willingness to publicly express his desire for a quick conclusion to the primary underscores the growing desire within Democratic circles for the party to unite around a candidate. Prior to this past week, the Majority Leader had held his cards close to his vest, stressing that the electoral process would naturally resolve itself. And while he predicted an expedient conclusion, the Senator on Wednesday continued to put an optimistic spin on the hard-fought battle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
"The primary has been good for our country," he said. "We started out with six great candidates on the Democratic side -- and seven counting Kucinich, because he added something to the campaign. And we wound up with two who have got the nod. They have had 30 debates, national televised debates. That is tremendous. We have registered record numbers of Democrats."
The hour-and-a-half conversation in Los Angeles, which was moderated by Hollywood producer Rob Reiner and centered on Reid's recently released book, "The Good Fight," touched on a number of hot-button political topics. Pressed on several occasions why the Democrats have not achieved more legislative accomplishments, the Majority Leader put the onus on GOP obstructionism: "We don't have moderate Republicans in the Senate anymore. The only one we have is Olympia Snowe. As I say in my book, Arlen Specter is with us whenever we don't need him."
But not all criticism was saved for the GOP. Reid acknowledged that the Democrats, too, have had some difficulty in keeping their house in order, in part because the party's tent had expanded over the years. In the Senate, he argued, it was tough to get all 51 Democrats on the same page on Iraq. And in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had some coordinating issues of her own.
"People think she has a large margin, she doesn't," he said. "You add in the so-called Blue Dogs [conservative Democrats], she has trouble passing anything, because they are a pain in the wrong part of your body."
In the end, however, much of the conversation was premised on a shared disappointment and disdain for the "highly-partisan" path that the Republican Party had pursued since the Gingrich revolution in 1994. Asked by a Republican in the crowd whether he would be willing to personally reach out to President Bush to bridge their partisan divide, Reid responded by calling the current Commander in Chief the worst "we have ever had in the history of this country."
Reid also lobbed some harsh rhetoric at former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, whom he called a "fraud," the "J. Edgar Hoover of the financial world," and, as he has in the past, "the biggest political hack in Washington."
He concluded: "The Republicans starting with Newt Gingrich and exacerbated with George Bush, they became drunk with power and we need to change that."