By Mike Lillis - 11/02/12 07:56 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned Mitt Romney this week that upper-chamber Democrats would be no rubber stamp for Republican ideals if the GOP contender wins the White House next Tuesday.
The Nevada Democrat is pushing back against Romney's claims that he's better able to break Washington's partisan gridlock because he could work with congressional Democrats in ways President Obama wasn't able to work with Republicans.
The notion of working across the aisle has emerged as a key selling point for Romney, one that's won him a number of newspaper endorsements in recent weeks.
Reid on Friday warned that those endorsements might have been premature.
Reid noted that Senate Democrats this year have already shot down a number of proposals Romney has supported on the campaign trail, including GOP efforts to repeal Obama's healthcare reforms, cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans and eliminate the birth-control mandate for most employers.
Romney, Reid charged, “has demonstrated that he lacks the courage to stand up to the Tea Party, kowtowing to their demands time and again."
"There is nothing in Mitt Romney’s record to suggest he would act any differently as president," Reid added.
All sides agree that the emergence of entrenched partisanship on Capitol Hill in recent years has created a volatile political environment that's discouraged compromise and threatened the ability of Congress to perform even its most basic functions. Both parties have blamed the other for the gridlock, with GOP leaders accusing Obama of refusing to reach across the aisle and Democrats countering that Republican leaders have made defeating Obama their highest priority.
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told National Journal just before the 2010 elections.
Romney, on the campaign trail, has packaged himself as the leader who could break the gridlock, arguing that, as governor of Massachusetts a decade ago, he was able to work with Democratic state leaders to get things done.
That strategy has paid dividends, as Iowa's Des Moines Register and the Detroit News have endorsed Romney in recent days, citing his record as a bipartisan dealmaker.
"Which candidate could forge the compromises in Congress to achieve these goals [of job creation and economic recovery]?" the Register's editorial board wrote last week. "When the question is framed in those terms, Mitt Romney emerges the stronger candidate."
Reid, however, disputes the notion that Romney has a good record of bipartisanship, saying the former Massachusetts governor "had a terrible relationship with Democrats" – a dynamic Reid predicts will continue if Romney wins the White House.
"In the near-decade that Mitt Romney has spent running for president, both his words and his actions have shown that pleasing the far right is more important to him than working across the aisle," Reid added. “Senate Democrats are committed to defending the middle class, and we will do everything in our power to defend them against Mitt Romney’s Tea Party agenda.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Reid's comments showed that the Senate majority leader recognized Romney's "momentum."
"While Senator Reid might want to continue Washington politics as usual, I'm confident that there are many Democrats who value balancing the budget, reducing burdensome regulations, investing in U.S. energy resources and will be willing to work with Governor Romney to help grow our stagnant economy," Priebus said in a statement.
--This report was originally filed at 2:08 p.m. and last updated at 3:56 p.m.