Rep. Dina Titus apologized today for causing U.S. Sen. Harry Reid any political heartburn by privately saying the Democrats — from President Barack Obama to Reid to Titus herself — were “f---ed” and could lose re-election if they failed to learn from last week’s upset GOP victory in Massachusetts.
Titus was called to the woodshed by Reid on Tuesday when her comments made a week ago to fellow House freshmen leaked on a political Web site. She admitted using profanity, but denied singling out Reid for possible defeat, which is what some anonymous lawmakers told Politico.com.
“I certainly apologized to him for any problems this has caused him,” Titus told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a telephone interview when asked about her conversation with Reid. “But I didn’t say he was dead or he was going to lose. I said that from the president on down to myself — if we don’t get the message — that we’re all in trouble. It certainly wasn’t anything specific about Senator Reid or Senator Reid’s race. ... I have every confidence in Senator Reid’s ability to win this election.”
Reid, the Senate majority leader who is running behind his potential Republican opponents in early polls, said he took Titus at her word that she didn't single him out.
"She told me she did not say that, and I just accepted it," Reid said, adding he did not ask her to explain further. "There was nothing to apologize for."
But the episode exposed cracks in the Nevada delegation and among Democrats nationwide who are intent on their own political survival after Republican Scott Brown came out of nowhere to beat Democrat Martha Coakley to win the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts.
Titus, too, is in a tough re-election race in a fairly new congressional district that used to be held by former Rep. Jon Porter, a Republican, who she knocked off in 2008 during the Obama popularity wave.
The Democrats in the Nevada delegation were working hard today to smooth over any hint of a rift following the report on Politico.com that Titus, in the meeting last week with other freshmen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, declared that “Reid is done; he’s going to lose in November.”
The meeting took place Jan. 20, the morning after Democrats suffered the big Massachusetts upset and members of Congress were struggling to see a path forward.
Politico.com said three people in the room confirmed anonymously that they heard Titus make the remark about Reid, but Titus was sending out on-the-record denials from other lawmakers present.
Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, a Democratic freshman who was in the meeting, made this statement: “I was in the room when Ms. Titus made her remarks and she did not single out Senator Reid. She said that all Democrats would be in trouble if we didn’t learn from the Massachusetts election.”
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., also jumped to the defense of Reid, who is seeking a fifth Senate term.
“No one can match Senator Reid’s record when it comes to delivering for the families in our state,” Berkley said in a statement. “Or his efforts to create clean energy jobs and expand the green economy at home. That is why I know Nevadans will again choose Harry Reid to be their senator this November.”
Berkley was not in the meeting since it included only freshmen, her spokesman David Cherry said.
Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919.