Reid defends his ‘presidentials,’ takes jab at Edwards

As former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) TV ad on the Iraq supplemental continues to cause friction in the Democratic presidential field, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) heaped praise Thursday upon “the presidentials” in his caucus for keeping their rivalry out of caucus business.

“They’ve caused me no concern, caused the caucus no concern,” Reid told reporters, referring to his four “presidentials” — Democratic Sens. Joseph Biden (Del.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Barack Obama (Ill.).

That quartet is grappling with intense pressure to craft a strategy on the supplemental bill that satisfies the party’s anti-war base while not alienating centrist 2008 voters or their majority leader.

The pressure boiled over on Wednesday, when Dodd’s camp jabbed at Edwards’s new ad, airing in Washington, D.C., and likely expanding to Iowa markets, which urges Democratic lawmakers to send President Bush the same supplemental “again and again” until Bush signs the bill. But Reid pointed out that none of the four presidential hopefuls have missed votes that hurt the caucus, calling the foursome “respectful” and “constructive” in their approach to issues.

Reid was not so congenial toward Edwards.

“I care a great deal about John Edwards,” Reid said, also referencing the North Carolinan’s children and wife, Elizabeth, who is battling recurrent cancer. “But he’s not in the Senate; I am. ... He doesn’t have to cast votes here in the Senate; we do.”