Reid: Dems must be ‘very careful’ about overreaching

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Democrats have to be “very, very careful” about overreaching.

In an interview with The Hill, Reid argued that it is essential for President-elect Obama and congressional Democrats to work closely with Republicans in the new Congress. He added that 2009 is very different than 1993, the last time Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House.

Back then, Reid said, Democrats had controlled the House for decades, while this time around, a recent stint in the minority will result in their being more committed to bipartisanship.

The Democratic leader also defended Leon Panetta, Obama’s reported selection to head the CIA.

While stating that the Obama administration could have communicated with lawmakers about his pick, Reid said, “There is nothing wrong with Leon Panetta.”

Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinYouth climate activists march outside California homes of Pelosi and Feinstein Cosmetic chemicals need a makeover Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema MORE (D-Calif.) and Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) have expressed concerns with Panetta’s experience to head the agency, but Reid noted that Obama’s choice has extensive experience in government.

He added that he has made calls to his colleagues to rally support for Panetta’s nomination.

Reid, entering his second term as majority leader, will be busy during the 111th Congress. With a Democrat in the White House and strengthened Democratic majorities in Congress, expectations for the next two years are high. And, as he is working to move a slew of bills to President-elect Obama’s desk, Reid will be raising millions of dollars for what he expects to be a challenging reelection race in 2010.

Republicans successfully targeted then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in 2004, and Democrats fell short last year in their bid to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data MORE (R-Ky.). It is unclear which Republican will face Reid next year, but the 69-year-old Silver State legislator knows that the GOP is gunning for him.

Reid, a former boxer and U.S. Capitol Police officer who grew up in poverty in Searchlight, Nev., is comfortable in his own skin.

He acknowledges that he can be impulsive. Reid has called President Bush a “loser” and a “liar” and labeled former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan “a political hack.”

During the intense months before the 2008 elections, Reid regularly sniped at Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.).

But on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Reid expressed some regret. He said he called McCain a day after the election.

Reid said, “We came to Washington together in 1982. We've been together in the House and we came to the Senate together. And we talked about the campaign. We had both said things about each other that probably we shouldn’t have, but we did. He’s my friend. He said, ‘Harry, I, I want to come back to the Senate. We want to do some good things. I want to work with you.' ”

In his book, The Good Fight, Reid writes that his off-the-cuff remarks have “not always necessarily served me well, but it is who I am. I can be no one else.”

After expressing frustration with the strong GOP minority in the 110th Congress, Reid is clearly excited about how much Democrats can accomplish in 2009 and beyond.

Reid stated that the future will be much brighter than Bush's tenure, writing in his memoir, “January 2009, the twenty-first century truly begins.”

The full interview with Sen. Reid will appear in Wednesday’s print edition of The Hill.