WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn is no fan of Sen. Harry Reid, criticizing the Nevadan regularly and publicly for how he manages the Senate.
But civility took it on the chin Monday when the Oklahoman told a crowd at a New York gala for young Republicans that he thought the Democratic majority leader was an “absolute asshole.”
In answer to a question from the group, Coburn said it’s easier to work with some Democrats than others. For instance, he said, he has “great relationships” with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
But, he said, “there’s no comity with Harry Reid. I think he’s an absolute asshole.”
For senators who usually speak of each other in public in somewhat more florid terms, Coburn’s use of the vernacular as reported by the New York Daily News was jarring.
Back in Washington on Tuesday, Coburn did not deny the report and said he believed Reid “has done more damage to the Senate than any majority leader.” Reid, he said, has used Senate rules to eliminate debate and silence Republicans, which has increased partisanship.
But he said, he wanted to have a private conversation with Reid to discuss the matter. No time has been set for a meeting.
“Since this is the second time in the last year or so Senator Coburn has had to apologize to Senator Reid, he knows where to find him,” spokesman Adam Jentleson said.
In July 2012, Coburn apologized to Reid in a Senate speech after calling him “incompetent and incapable of carrying on the tradition of the Senate” in an interview with C-SPAN.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.