Republicans are now hoping to use Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (Nev.) reaffirmed support for a public option as ammunition in their fight to defeat him in 2010.
In a statement released just before Reid announced his chamber's final reform bill will include an iteration of the government plan, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) charged Reid was a "partisan bully" who is out of touch with his own constituents.
“A primary reason Harry Reid is one of the most endangered incumbents facing re-election in either party next year is due to the fact that he is viewed by many of his constituents as a partisan bully," said Brian Walsh, NRSC Communications Director.
"His decision to write a health care bill behind closed doors, bow to pressure from the far left, and ram this bill through the Senate will only further cement that negative image," he added.
Fueling the NRSC's latest attacks on Monday is Reid's announcement that his chamber's healthcare reform bill would include a version of the public option that allows states to "opt out." At a press conference this afternoon, Reid touted the provision as a way to drive down healthcare costs, and he stressed his caucus would rally together to support it.
But further dogging Reid -- and emboldening the NRSC -- are recent local poll numbers, which have depicted the majority leader as already trailing his GOP challengers. The NRSC has seized on those predictions since early October, insisting that Reid's recent re-election troubles are mostly the result of his previous support for the stimulus and current position on healthcare reform.
UPDATE: But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rebuffed the NRSC's take later in the afternoon, accusing Republicans of distracting voters from the real issues at stake in this year's healthcare debate.
"Harry Reid has a 30 plus year record of delivering for Nevada including creating new jobs and stopping Yucca Mountain," said Communications Director Eric Schultz. "Instead of name calling, Republicans would be better served thinking of how to explain to voters in Nevada, and every other 2010 state, why they chose to carry water for the insurance companies instead of lowering health care costs for average people."