It’s not often Donald Trump and Harry Reid agree with each other.
As a Republican, Trump won his party’s presidential nomination and the general election in an explosion of popular fury with the Washington “swamp.”
As the Democratic Senate majority leader for most of former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, Reid was essentially a creature of that swamp, being part of a unified Democratic government in the first two years of the Obama presidency, then standing liberal guard in the Senate against a Republican House bent on reining in Obama.
But when it comes to Trump’s re-election bid in 2020, Reid told former Obama elections guru David Axelrod he had a warning for his party.
And the president liked it so much he thanked him for it on Twitter.
Reid’s interview was aired Saturday on CNN’s “The Axe Files.”
If Democrats think Trump will be easy to beat, Reid said, they should “have another think coming.”
“I used to think Donald Trump was not too smart. I certainly don’t believe that anymore,” Reid said.
“I don’t think he’s intellectually a powerhouse, but he is basically a very, very smart man,” Reid said.
Trump, Reid said, chooses his battles so opponents always find themselves arguing “on his terms.”
Asked about a strategy for beating the president, Reid said it would be tough.
“What I say initially, and I say it right here on your show: Anyone that thinks Trump’s going to be beaten easily should have another think coming,” Reid said.
It was a backhanded compliment, but that’s about the only kind a politician like Trump can expect from his opponents. And he clearly got a kick out of it.
“Former Democrat Senator Harry Reid just stated that Donald Trump is very smart, much more popular than people think, is underestimated, and will be hard to beat in the 2020 Election,” Trump wrote in a zinging tweet. “Thank you Harry, I agree!”
Former Democrat Senator Harry Reid just stated that Donald Trump is very smart, much more popular than people think, is underestimated, and will be hard to beat in the 2020 Election. Thank you Harry, I agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2019
It’s important to remember here that American politics has produced few national figures as snaky as Harry Reid.
During his time as majority leader, he ran the Senate with an iron grip and the chief goal of maintaining a Democratic majority in the upper house of Congress in service to the Democrat in the White House.
As a January 2014 piece in National Review noted, Reid’s authoritarianism even alienated Democrats.
To ensure Obama got his judicial appointments through the Senate, Reid in 2013 used the so-called nuclear option to destroy the filibuster for judges below the Supreme Court level. (During the Trump presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell simply had his fellow Republican senators expand that to clear the way for Trump Supreme Court nominees.)
And, of course, there was the lie Reid originated and repeated on the floor of the Senate, claiming 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for a decade.
It wasn’t true, but Reid had no regrets about smearing a political opponent. As he told CNN’s Dana Bash in 2015, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”
In short, Reid has a demonstrated history of being an unscrupulous player in the political world. He also has a demonstrated history of doing everything in his power to push the Democratic agenda.
He’s said before that he was afraid of Trump’s chances in 2020, but his acknowledgment of the president’s political skills should add some power to his words for Democrats.
Whatever devilry House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and henchman Adam Schiff come up with, whatever the disgracefully biased mainstream media can throw at the White House, Trump is going to be formidable in his re-election bid.
The president’s appeal comes in large part from the fact that he’s the opposite of a career swamp creature like Harry Reid.
Trump already knows it. Reid already knows it.
And Americans voters know it.
The mainstream media could have learned it in 2016, but the lesson never took. Maybe in 2020, it will.
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