WASHINGTON — Departing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid lashed out at Donald Trump on Friday as “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.”
The Nevada Democrat said in a statement that “If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”
Reid said white nationalists, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Islamic State extremist group are celebrating Trump’s election, “while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear.” That “does not feel like America,” Reid said.
Absent from the statement was any note of conciliation or a congratulatory olive branch.
The 76-year-old Reid is retiring at the end of this year after five terms, so unlike other congressional Democrats he has no imperative to try to make nice with Trump. That position allows him to give voice to bolder sentiments than other Democratic leaders who may need to try to work with Trump.
Reid’s replacement, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, has had little to say about Trump so far, but he did congratulate him in a phone call and a brief statement. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi also offered congratulations and the prospect of working together on an infrastructure and jobs bill.
For Democratic leaders who have spent months campaigning for Democrat Hillary Clinton and against Trump, his election now presents a challenge on several levels, including whether or how to try to reach out to him. Reid doesn’t have to deal with such considerations and instead on Friday aimed harsh parting shots at Trump, whom he’d spent months denouncing on the Senate floor.
“Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans,” Reid said. “Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.”