WASHINGTON — Sen. Harry Reid has a reputation in Nevada for pulling strings in political races besides his own.
In 2008 he tried it on the national stage, according to a report Thursday.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, called then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates that year and felt him out about possibly running for vice president alongside presidential candidate Barack Obama, according to a Gates memoir being published next week.
CNN, which obtained an advance copy of the book, reported Reid quizzed Gates about his political history, what his position was on abortion, whether he was a longtime Republican, and how long he had been an academic.
“It took a lot of willpower for me to keep from bursting out laughing,” wrote Gates, who makes clear in the book he had little appetite for the politics of Washington.
“I couldn’t figure out if he was serious, if it was just idle flattery, or if he was delusional,” Gates wrote.
Gates said he never told anyone “in part because I didn’t think they’d believe me.”
It has been reported that Reid was an early fan of Obama, who was then a senator from Illinois, and privately urged him to run for president. Publicly he maintained a neutral stance in the Democratic campaign in 2008 between Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Meeting with reporters on Thursday, Reid was asked whether he made such a call to Gates.
He paused, then smiled. “It’s possible,” he said.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.