By The Hill Editors - 02/03/10 12:48 AM EST
They were both elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986. At times, they have seemed close friends.
In 2004, Reid invited McCain to dinner and a 2004 prizefight in Las Vegas. Four years later, soon after McCain locked up the GOP presidential nomination, the relationship soured.
Following the election, Reid reached out to McCain to reconcile.
“We talked about the campaign,” Reid said on “Meet the Press.” “We had both said things about each other we shouldn’t have said but we did. He’s my friend. He said, ‘Harry, I want to come back to the Senate. We want to do some good things. I want to work with you.’ ”
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
But there were some moments early last year when the outspoken senators got along. After McCain scolded fellow Republicans for holding up Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination to serve as secretary of State, Reid told a lawmaker that McCain had “been so nice” since the election.
Weeks later, tensions re-emerged when the omnibus bill was debated. McCain is an outspoken opponent of earmarks, while Reid isn’t shy about the projects he secures for Nevada.
A year ago, some Republicans feared that McCain would defy his party and partner with President Barack Obama on a range of issues. But McCain has been one of Obama’s staunchest critics.
On Monday, Reid called McCain “a great name-caller.”
“The election is over,” Reid added. “He should leave Barack Obama alone and join with us to do good things for the country … John has no reason to be the way he is.”
In December, Reid accused McCain of a “huge, big-belly flip-flop” on proposed Medicare cuts, which are included in the Democrats’ healthcare reform legislation.
McCain quickly went to the Senate floor and fired back at Reid. Comparing the Nevada lawmaker’s 2009 position to his statements in 2005, when the GOP sought to pare back Medicare, McCain said, “That, my friends, is a remarkable flip-flop.”
Both men are up for reelection this year. Reid is facing an extremely challenging general-election test, while McCain is gearing up for a bruising primary with former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.). There may be another détente in this relationship, but it probably won’t be until after November.