Published Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 | 7:07 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 | 2:45 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Dina Titus insists today she did not suggest Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s career is “done” – but she makes no apologies for dropping the f-bomb to express her concern about the difficult election climate facing Democrats in fall.
Titus was retracing her steps after it was reported in Politico that she said “Reid is done; he’s going to lose,” during a closed door meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic freshmen following last week’s special election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate.
Titus insists she did not say those words.
When Pelosi went around the room to ask the freshmen their take on the Massachusetts victory, what Titus said went more like this:
“I said, ‘If we don’t get the message, we're f-----,” Titus told the Sun today. “I said that’s everybody – half of us in this room could be gone, you could lose the majority, Harry Reid could lose, the president may not get a second term unless we get a handle on this. That’s what I said.”
Today, Titus said she stands by her tough language, even though she apologized at the time to the speaker for swearing.
“You can’t pussyfoot around,” Titus said. She wanted to bring the concerns of her Southern Nevada district – the issues of joblessness and the foreclosure crisis -- to the fore.
“I was expressing their frustrations in kind of the boldest, simplest, strongest way I could to get the speaker’s attention.”
Fellow Demcorats came to Titus' side today and said they do not recall her saying that Reid is done.
Rep. Gerald Connolly, the Democrat from Virginia who is president of the freshman class, said he recalls no mention of Reid at all.
“I heard her certainly warn all her colleagues that if we didn’t get something done there could be dire consequences,” Connolly said.
Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, another freshman who was in the meeting, issued a statement saying “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."
The frank talk is sure to add a new dimension to the Reid-Titus relationship.
Titus spoke to Reid last night and he accepted her explanation.
"They have had a good relationship for years and he takes her at her word," said Reid spokesman Jon Summers.
The two have a frosty history, especially after Reid did not appear to give his robust support for her failed campaign for governor.
But Reid was Titus’ chief backer when she ran in 2008 and unseated then-Rep. Jon Porter, the Republican who had held the Southern Nevada district since it was created.
Reid tapped Titus to run, supported her with campaign funds and helped her learn Washington once she arrived. They had appeared to have patched up their differences.
While Reid's difficult re-election is no secret, Titus also faces a potentially tough campaign to keep her Southern Nevada seat. The district had been solidly Democratic in 2008 but Nevada's political terrain is shifting again with a resurgence among independents.
Titus said today she believes Reid will, in fact, be re-elected.
"Congresswoman Titus believes that no one has done more for Nevada than Harry Reid," said Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard. "He fights every day to create jobs, stop foreclosures and turn our economy around. He has been a champion for Nevada's families and she is confident that he will be re-elected because of it."
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley jumped to Reid's defense today, dashing off a statement of confidence that voters will re-elect him to another term this fall.
“No one can match Senator Reid’s record when it comes to delivering for the families in our state,” Berkley said. “That is why I know Nevadans will again choose Harry Reid to be their senator this November."