By Alexander Bolton - 07/16/09 01:06 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slammed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for wasting money by running television ads to pressure centrist Democrats to support the president’s plan for healthcare reform.
“I think it’s a waste of money,” Reid told reporters Thursday. “Democrats running ads against Democrats?”
The ads do not mention senators by name, nor do they mention either party. But a Democratic senator represents all but one of the states targeted, and two of the states - Arkansas and North Dakota - are only represented by Democrats. Maine, the only state targeted without a Democratic senator, is represented by two GOP centrists.
Reid was asked Thursday for his reaction to the DNC "targeting some of the Democratic members who had expressed concerns about the president’s health plan.”
Reid initially did not hear the reporter say who had launched the ads, but Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the Senate Democrats’ senior political strategists, was standing next to him and told Reid it was the DNC. Reid said he was not aware of the campaign before opining that he considered Democratic ads against fellow Democrats a waste.
An aide to Reid sought to clarify his remarks later on, saying Reid has no problem with the ads in question.
"Senator Reid was led to believe by the question posed to him that the DNC was attacking members of his Caucus," the aide said. "In fact, the DNC is running non-specific call to action ads in states with both Democratic and Republican senators, an effort he has no problem with. "
The ad, funded by Organizing for America, a wing of the DNC that was formed from the grass-roots operation of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, urges senators to back an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system.
The campaign is the first significant effort by the Obama administration to use its political operation at the DNC to ratchet up pressure on Democratic centrists.
This article was updated at 2:23 p.m.