Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Endorses Hillary Clinton For President: Why Did He Wait So Long?

In a CNN interview, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid endorsed Hillary Clinton today. During the interview, the establishment leader, Reid, spoke highly of Clinton and the work they’ve done together in the past, calling the presidential candidate the best woman for the job of first female U.S. president.

Harry Reid, a Nevada democrat and seen by many in the political arena as the de-facto leader of the establishment wing of the Democratic party, announced his support of Clinton after previously expressing doubts about her campaign. After Clinton won Nevada, Reid’s home state, the Senate Minority Leader changed his tune, calling Clinton a talented political figure.

“I think the middle class would be better served by Hillary, my work with her over the years has been something that I have looked upon with awe,” Harry Reid told CNN in an exclusive interview.

Reid’s endorsement makes him the highest ranking Democrat to formally endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, and could very well help marshal the establishment wing of the party behind her. On the other hand, however, the endorsement may do more harm than good as it cements Clinton’s reputation as an establishment politician in contrast to the upstart “outsider” candidate, Bernie Sanders.

There’s a reason Harry Reid, who has long supported Clinton’s candidacy, waited as long as he did to formally endorse the former Secretary of State. Politico speculates that Reid is more concerned with his personal legacy, ensuring that a Democrat takes his seat in the Senate after he retires later this year. Harry Reid’s neutrality was calculated, he wanted to incite the Democratic base into fighting over Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, get them out to vote in record numbers, registering and getting ready to fight for his senate seat in the upcoming elections.

By ensuring more Democrats are fired up about the campaign, on both sides of the Clinton-Sanders divide, Harry Reid ensures that there is the largest possible number of registered Democrats ready to vote when his seat comes up for re-election.

“I’m more concentrated on what effect my endorsement has in Nevada. Eight years ago we registered thirty to forty thousand new Democrats, tens of thousands, it was unheard of,” Harry Reid said in a previous interview, when discussing why he hadn’t already endorsed Hillary Clinton.

He wanted the Nevada caucus to be a real fight between Democrats, firing up the base and getting them out and registered to vote, in an effort to put another Democrat in his senate seat. Harry Reid was playing the long game, and now that Nevada is sealed up (and firmly in the Clinton win column), he’s able to come right out and endorse Clinton for President.

“She was the first lady. She started the trend toward looking to do something about healthcare. She understood the issue well, and she was the front on the healthcare during [the Clinton] administration, I also think she’s the woman to be the first president of the United States that’s a female,” Reid said during the CNN interview today, reaffirming that he has long been a Clinton supporter.

These moves by Harry Reid illustrate his political acumen, that despite a sometimes sleepy demeanor, he’s a canny politician and a clever one, to boot. Earlier this year, he criticized the Clinton campaign, stating that the fight between Clinton and Sanders could likely go all the way to the Democratic Convention, a prediction he refused to repeat during the CNN interview.

“I odn’t know about that, you know I had some meetings today, and I think the race is moving along very quickly, so we’ll have to see, we’ll have to see what happens next month,” said Harry Reid with a glint in his eye.

[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]